A friend once said to me - recognising in me what was in her - that we were both searchers. Travellers are not restless when they travel, they are often at peace with themselves because they are free to explore and discover their world.
Note that I said ‘their’ world. We all live on the same world, but each and every one of us has our own perception, and our own special way of being wired into what we see, hear and above all, feel.
When I travel I’m often at peace. When I am stationary for too long, I can’t find balance in my life because things are too static, staid perhaps.
I’ve just returned from a month long journey. Along the way I’ve changed. I felt new things, met new people I had not encountered before in my life, saw familiar landscapes in different moods, brought on by visiting in different seasons. I felt I was alive.
And returning home has caused me dislocation. The feeling that familiarity brings, is no longer familiar. I have not lived in a predictable environment for some time, and I’m finding it difficult to adjust to the static aspects of a life routed in one spot.
I thought I should be over this by now. I’ve lived a very travel-intensive life the past three or four years and I’d gotten used to going away, only to come home again. To flip between a life of new experiences and a life of familiar friends and family. Sometimes I thought I was becoming two people. Two separate lives. Where in fact, I was just coping with the sudden change of atmosphere. Moving from one environment of change to another of familiarity.
It shouldn’t bother me so much now, after all this time. I should have grown a thick skin to my sensitivities to the slight or sudden changes to my environment, but I’m glad in a way that I havent. Because it means I’m still sensitive to my environment, and my environment is all that I have to relate to when I photograph.
I don’t think most people out there realise the stresses put upon someone who has to move from a state of constant change, to that of being stationary. Those that don’t do this, think it must be a terrific way to live - ‘seeing the world is so exotic’, they may say. While those who do get to experience it often feel dislocated: each time a major trip comes up, I feel it looming for weeks, and I know that I will have to tear myself away from any feelings of being settled that I’ve built up over a few weeks of being back home. The flight tickets are booked and they are fixed in time, yet they seldom synchronise with my moods. If I don’t feel ready to go away, it’s a huge bind for me to do so. Like a child that doesn’t want to get into the bath, I too don’t want to go to the airport. And after a few days or perhaps a week on the road, I slowly realise that I’m actually enjoying my new freedom. I’ve become someone else through spirit of travel and all the new senses it provides. My old self seems like an distant memory - ‘was that really me who didn’t want to leave home’?, I ask. Now I’m in the bath, there’s no getting me out of it.
So I often wonder just why I find the transference from static to mobile so hard at times. I absolutely love traveling but I also really love being home too. I love my friends and my family, yet at the same time, I often find myself hatching new plans to go somewhere new. I think this is nothing unusual for most photographers - when we’re at home, we so wish to be away, and when we’re away, we can often wish to be home.
I’ve realised that I live a life very different from a lot of my friends now, and it’s very different from the life I used to lead when I worked in an office in Edinburgh. I feel I’ve changed as a result of my life-style. For me at least, it’s given me confidence in myself and a broader outlook on just what life is all about. As much as I can feel a sense of dislocation in those ‘transfer moments’ whilst moving from my home life to the life I have on the road, I feel I have found myself many times too, through the experiences that this ‘transference’ stage has offered me.
I can lose myself if I’m stationary for too long, and I can find myself when I put myself in new environments. And the opposite is true too. However, each time I move, I’m challenging my perceptions and I think that’s maybe why I love doing it: travel is perhaps just another way of making photographs. Instead of making visual images, I make emotional 'imprints' in my mind - they are what I like to call emotional-images. Less tangible perhaps, but equally valid.