Travel Is Dangerous

But it’s also thrilling and wondrous and an essential part of broadening one’s mind.

The title of this piece is borrowed from a song by Mogwai; a song filled with beauty and excitement and more than a little menace and trepidation. The song tells the story of a Russian submarine crew who die a long way from their loved ones, based on .

Needless to say it’s a dark song about a dark event, but Mogwai’s gift is that they can take darkness like this and juxtapose it with beauty and delicacy to create something transcendent.

That juxtaposition could also describe my experience of traveling alone to the US in 2013: it was tremendous and life-changing but also a bit scary – turbulence over the vast empty Pacific when you know you’re still 4 hours from land ain’t no fun – and I was consciously pushing my fat ass out of my comfort zone every step of the way. That’s a good thing to do but it can be hard work for a hermitty fellow like myself who’d be just as happy pottering away in his studio at home. It was a powerful experience mentoring my son through the same thing when our family traveled to the US a few months ago.

I think that the thrill of excitement and the clammy-handed tension of danger are simply two points along the same scale and traveling really illustrates that. My fear in the plane was just a sour version of the thrill I felt as I saw Portland for the first time, an intense anticipation that came close to rivaling the last few moments before I saw my son for the very first time. Like I said, a life-changing experience.

I’m the main character in this piece, a rare indulgence. As famous traveler Dick Whittington – with the head of a slightly timid rabbit – I’m wearing the top hat of my eyeball logo man and I’m accompanied by my faithful cat aka my muse. I’m preparing to embrace the weird and wonderful experiences and creatures in front of me. It’s perhaps a bit flowery to describe Americans as “weird and wonderful creatures” but you get the point. I did embrace some of them and it was mostly wonderful.

The fact that the pterodactyl bears a striking resemblance to the woman who assisted me at the gun range in Portland, and managed to offend both my friend Liz and I is purely coincidental.

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