‘You are not doing this for other people. You are doing it for yourself.’
I do not talk with most of the people I meet on the road about this blog. A small number find out about the sketching and painting, if we hang out long enough I am bound to pull out my journal and start doodling something. Some ask if I have an online space, I will chuckle and admit I have a blog, ‘Just like every other traveller these days.’ But the treading lightly bit? That part I am shy about.
Folks’ faces light up when they see my art work. I have found ways around my hesitancy to share, mostly through brute force – challenging myself to draw in more and more public spaces. A non-stop rotation of tourists kept me company the time I opened up my journal and stood to the side of Michelangelo’s Pieta. It was both an intimidating and humbling experience. One that would have been entirely unlikely only half a year before.
The reaction is mixed, discouraging, when I mention anything about my desire to tread lightly. People do not like to be preached to, and I can see the guards go up when words like ‘organic’, ‘environmentally responsible’, ‘recycling’, … pass my lips. Trigger words used by various sources as a way to imply that, ‘You are wrong, what you are doing is bad, stop now.’ Then I hesitate, compromise my communication, and botch the whole discussion. Frustration reigns supreme and I end up saying something stupid.
‘I am worried you are limiting yourself.’
The words trying to get out are these:
Harm reduction is the main driving force behind many of my decisions as a consumer. And the farther my feet wander the more I see firsthand how my actions have impacts on the environment, people, the life around me. I am not trying to ‘save the world’ – it does not need saving – I am looking for ways to improve our relationship.
I have been walking, stumbling, attempting to follow this path for very close to two decades now. Little bit by little bit habits have been refined, patterns changed, some things now coming automatically with seemingly minimal effort. Just as I have been drawing for most of my life, developing my eye, working on my thought process, building a stronger and finer connection between brain and hands.
Often people will tell me I am talented, that they would never be able to draw as I do. I put down my pen, look them in the eye, and tell them that they could. Just pick up a pencil, pen, brush, crayon, or even dip a finger into some paint and connect to a surface. And do not expect a masterpiece to flow from you as justification for why you decide to create.
‘I do not have a problem with [vegetarians, vegans, environmentalists], I just do not understand extremists.’
My drawings appear the way they do because I have been at it for a long time.
My lifestyle choices seem radical because I have been tweaking them for a long time.
I look back at the balance of topic content in recent posts and see a trend. A strong focus on art shines through while my voice on environmentally responsible travel has quieted to a whisper. There is nothing wrong with gaining strength in my art, but I have developed a hesitancy initiating discussions about my travel style decisions. And, feeling a need to write more on the ‘green’ element of my travelling without following through on it has had the unfortunate result of put a bit of a brake on posting at all over the past couple of months.
Anywhoo, all this to say I have not lost focus on my initial goals for this year. The treading lightly is still happening, and I will swing back around to its discussion given a bit of time. For now I hope you enjoy the art. =)