Call this a travel journal?

Jim asked in a response to a comment I posted on his blog how things were going with my travels, referring my rather patchy (to say the least) posting habits while travelling. Rather than derail the discussion of Einstein and gender-specific pronouns, I thought I’d say something here…

Well, I probably should have learned from travelling in the States last year: travelling just doesn’t inspire me to post much. Combined with the ease of digital photography these days, it’s true for this trip as much as the one to the States that my Flickr photostream pretty much earns that title of “my travel journal”. It’s much less revealing, in many ways, though, than a written journal might be. Travelling alone, the images tend to be more of things than people (with the occasional self-portrait and friend I hook up with). Plus, when I hit my more-than-occasional downers, I would be much more likely to winge when writing than grab my camera and take a picture of myself with a frown. (Though I did actually attempt an expressive use of an image to make sure people were getting some indication of my grey rubble downs as well as my blue sky ups.) But, combined with the descriptions, title and notes that Flickr allows, that’s been the main place to track my progress.

Progress? I’m not sure I’d use that word about this trip. I’m less than two weeks away from my flight back now, hoping that these grey Greek skies are going to buck up and fuck off to give me a little of what we English come here for—sun!—before I head home. Ups, yes; downs, yes. But no clear line forward. If that’s really what I was looking for, or even needed. Maybe the sense of being adrift and uprooted is actually all about cutting up that straight rut we get channeled into as city-dwelling workers.

I was seeking some sense of re-affirmation, and I think it arrived, albeit very discreetly, with a wry grin and bitter wisdom instead of blazing fireworks. I got up one morning and thought of all my seemingly half-hearted plans I’d made in England before I left, for when I got back, thinking, maybe the trip will explode these seemingly half-baked ideas into something different, something inspired. And I thought, quite simply, “I know what I’m doing, even though it doesn’t feel remotely like it. When I get back I just need to carry on with the plans I made.”

There’s still time of this drifting left, so I’m not drawing any final judgements. Plus, I’ve found that any “effects” of a trip (in any sense in which you care to have a trip), are often unforeseen until well into the return to “normality”. For now, I’ve been thinking a lot of my late-teen literary idol, Samuel Beckett, whose centenary this year has provoked many festivals which I’m currently missing. The final novel in his bitterly heroic trilogy, The Unnameable, whose final sentence runs for sixty odd pages, ends with a succinct expression of his bleak yet resolute vision:

… I can’t go on, I’ll go on.