Moleskine Memories – I have been constantly travelling since 1996. An ever present companion has been my Moleskine notebook beautifully made and sturdy. I don’t write a diary as such – just catch thoughts and ideas and moments when I can. In some sense they form the raw material for my songs and other writing. I have got over 20 of these now which I have bequeathed to my daughter Lucy-Jane when I go. This entry made me smile - written in a 4 x 4 in Namibia a few years ago
After a week in bush of Northern Namibia near the Botswana border we are heading to the Erongo mountains. I'm sitting in semi-conscious reverie in the Toyota 4x4, headphones on listening to the Fleet Foxes, gazing at the hills on the far horizons across the sweltering bush, The road very straight and slowly rising before us. I have an incredible sense that this is a particular recurring moment of my story: in the back of Dad’s car on his enormous none-stop journeys across across Europe to the Dolomites, Trieste and Lake Bled; the endless early Greyhound bus trip from Georgia through Tennessee Arizona to the West Coast; Autoroute Blanc rising up to the magnificent Alps; the dusty red dusty run to Imlil in Morocco. A life of endless journeying.
Got to thinking, what sort of journey am I on here?, 'Holiday' doesn’t quite capture days of camping in the Bush in torrential rain and avoiding scorpions and black mambas. The word “expedition” came to mind. At first I dismissed it with a smile for, despite the above, and the mad gales and the monotonous regularity of feral dogs eating our supper, we are surely being more or less looked after. Still the word tourist didn’t quite nail it either.
As the road rolled on and the day shimmered in the sun, I playfully established the following criteria for an expedition:
(a) remoteness and inaccessibility - where you are going should be hard to get to and not accessed by a comfortable ride on car or plane,
(b) hardship -there should be a level of exertion and discomfort,
(c) danger and risk - you need to be in some personal danger, at least of injury preferably death,
(d) discovery – this is the toughest criteria perhaps. If the purpose was to map out territories only, then we would not , in truth be exploring. But an expedition is surely to find something;
· ancient rock art
· new plants
· remnants of a crashed aeroplane
· hostages etc.
But could also be something more intangible? The truth? Some insight into yourself?
The first three criteria would distinguish an expedition from a retreat it is the fourth introduces the idea of deepening awareness and insight.
I think it’s okay to see an expedition as involving self-discovery. Expeditions gives you the chance to consider the world and yourself in it from new angles, to discover different things are important, join together bits you sure were separate. It is the fact of the remoteness, the hardship and the risk as well as the novel territory that breaks through the defensiveness and assumptions through which we protect ourselves.