Each week I share a page from my art journal. I love to peek into the art journals of others, and hope to inspire someone else by sharing my own work.
Just a simple page this week. It uses alphabet stamps and a Buddha stamp that I hand carved.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about travel. I love traveling.
There’s something so inspiring about seeing new places and cultures, being out of your ordinary routine and, sometimes, out of your comfort zone.
Whenever I travel, I learn so much about myself simply from being in new environments and out of my normal realm. In fact, there’s this fantastic quote by Danny Kaye:
To travel is to take a journey into yourself.
This is so very true. When I explored Europe and parts of North America last year, I returned to my home country of little old New Zealand as a different person. I had a stronger sense of who I was, a greater confidence in myself, and I was bursting at the seams with inspiration and creative ideas.
Looking back on my travel journal, I can see the growth I experienced as I ventured out into the big wide world. Once back home though, it wasn’t long before my feet were itching to get back on a plane and off to a new location.
Unfortunately, traveling far and wide as often as we might like is not always possible. But do we need to? Rilke said,
The only journey is the one within.
I can’t help but wonder if that is true. As much as I love seeing new places and exploring the world, the things that are most truly valuable for me from traveling are the lessons I learn about myself, the growth I experience and the inspiration that fills me.
What if I could capture even a fraction of that, without stepping foot in an airport?
That is exactly what journaling gives me. Now – let’s be honest – it doesn’t give me quite the same rush of excitement as boarding a plane and landing somewhere new, but it does allow me to journey inwards and learn more about myself.
There exists inside us a wild and undiscovered realm, an untouched landscape, a history waiting to be explored. We have within us whole worlds, both new and familiar. We are rich and layered beings with stories of our own to share. There is so much to be explored when we journey within.
I find that every day when I sit down to journal, I venture further into myself. I don’t always like what I find and I don’t always unearth treasures. If I get stuck I use journal prompts or switch over to my art journal. But I keep exploring and learning, and that is what’s important. Because, at the end of the day, the main reason I venture out into the world is, really, to venture into myself.
And that should keep me happy until I can next board a plane.
How does your journaling help you venture within?
I was thinking tonight on the drive home from work how much I’ve changed over the past few years.
In particular, the past six months of consistent journaling have seen me reconnect with myself. This is a strange thing to say, but it’s true.
It’s like I was going through the motions, feeling like my life was a little off, not quite what I wanted – but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was wrong.
Now I know what was wrong. I was afraid (there’s that word again!). Afraid to listen to the little voice inside me – that’s when I could hear it – and afraid to make the changes I so craved to make.
I was afraid of failure, of what people would think, of having regrets, of not doing what I ‘should’ do.
And you know what? Fuck it. Life is too damn short.
The world is mine for the taking. I’m leaving behind the things that make me unhappy, the fears that people will judge me, or that I will make a mistake.
I’m creating an unconventional and exceptional life. I’m building a tiny house. I’m starting my own creative business so that I can work for myself, helping others and doing work I love. I’m creating regularly. I’ve quit dieting. These are just the first few steps towards a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.
Here is possibly my most favourite poem, ever. It summarises my journey, and I’m sure, the journey of many others.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
What is your journey? Can you describe it in a few sentences or paragraphs or a poem? If you’re stuck, try to write it in the second person as Oliver has done in her poem.
How have you changed?
Is there a journey you would like to take (either metaphorical or literal)? What is stopping you?
Do you feel like yourself? If so, how do you know? If not, why not?