When I returned from Peru in February, the "plan" (ha!) was to spend the summer hitchhiking. A glorious and heroic return to the method, adventure, and free-flowing existential orgies of 2008-2010. With a "real" camera this time! Then vocation took over. I underestimated how difficult replacing the computer that was stolen last fall in the break-in would be and how much I had to learn about putting digital photographs on paper! Long story short, I got sidetracked. Not that I "couldn't" go. I didn't feel "right" about half-assing this exponentially expanding photography project. Before I knew it, it was late July. My first photo show was rapidly approaching in August. My remaining resources were put into production and presentation. I had no expectations but lo and behold! I sold things. I made money. Then I entered another spontaneous show in September. I sold more things. I made more money.
"Hey! Maybe I was right about this photography thing."
Unfortunately, the summer wasn't just photo shows. Life's never that singular and monolithic, is it? It was also complicated by redneck Vulture Family Values drama. The details aren't for you to consume, but suffice it to say that in a spasm of self-destructive rage, I sold my camera and telephoto lens. I put some of that money toward upgrading my travel gear thinking, wrongly in my fit of DNA disgust, that I was ready to scrape photography to the ground and just "go".
I'd been here before. I should know better. Add an unneeded photo gear complication for later in the year. That would be fun to deal with!
After the last show, things got annoyingly familiar. Again: what the hell was I going to do? It was almost October. Getting late in the year to be thumbing and stealth camping, unless I was eager to be fucking around in the snow. Which, if you've been around from the start, you know I'm most certainly NOT!
My friend Natali and I had been tinkering with the idea of me starting a trip at her place in Las Vegas for the past few months. She'd been subjected to my indecisiveness firsthand. After a couple of weeks of mentally masturbating and creating all sorts of the old, familiar doomsday narratives in my head, September had become October, and I decided to jump.
On Tuesday the 11th, I bought the ticket to Vegas. For that night. I gave myself approximately 8-hours to prepare for a completely improvised and open-ended trip. The only things I was mindfull of at that moment:
"I'm sick of the sound of my own voice. I'm sick of the same internal conversations. I know what this is: the same irrational, contrived anxiety that stopped you from starting this for four years, from 2004-2008. Unfounded fear. And you know how ridiculous it was then. How the imaginary mountains were in practice tiny molehills. Figure it out on the fly. The only way you'll do it is to take your own mind out of the equation. Fuck the camera. Just go. Dumbass."
I went. Before I could second, third, and tenth guess it. As soon as the ticket was bought, all the abstract redundant silliness of the summer abated. What mattered was what was ahead of me. First: getting the gear together for my flight! I had to focus and act. Amazing how useful that is.
By 8:30, I was headed to O'Hare. I had no idea what to expect beyond getting reacquainted with my friend. And, once in the air I noticed a remarkable mix of both excitement and calm resignation! I'd always talked about just "going" no plan. No expectation. Just to see where the road took me. I was finally doing it. And without "planning not to plan"! It's neat when you realize you can still surprise yourself.
I shot an email off to Chris. He understood. And, despite everything you just read, there would be a mini encore performance as well as a cementing of some recent realizations in the coming days. Particularly about the absurd corrosive effects of social media.
How does that saying go? "If you're suffering, you're thinking..."