Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meeting the people

I'm not much of a traveler. Yes I've spit out places like Russia, France and Ireland at you, but traveling has been a new addition in my life. It is something I've always wanted to do, but never could. Now I just want to go and experience new places and new people. My mind expands and my creativity is stimulated to levels I've never experienced. My favorite thing about traveling is meeting the people and experiencing their culture. This started when we exhibited in Saint Petersburg, Russia and were placed with a family for two weeks. Being in their home, living side-by-side with them, stumbling our way with language barriers was not a typical relaxing holiday, but it opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on how I'd like to travel.

This fall we went to Ireland. As soon as I made our flight reservations, I began to write to Irish artists. I was hoping to meet with some of them as part of our trip. At first my letters were simple. I inquired where an artists might find inspiration in their country. Every response that returned to my computer sent me in different directions. I searched each one. How awesome a connected network such as the internet is for bringing complete strangers together! Many artists never responded. Some were only interested in giving me a few suggestions and then there were the special ones. The ones who kept writing to me for four months and invited me into their homes.

Now this is what I'm talking about.

People meeting with people, exchanging ideas, experiencing new cultures, finding our similarities, learning from our differences... Its perhaps the most stimulating experience an artist can have. Anyone can go to a new country and see the sights, but going there to meet the people is far richer. Its double the experience! Of course you still see the sights, its impossible not to. Eventually our entire trip was carved by the various people we would meet. It sent us in many different directions and we got to see marvelous places we never would have otherwise. Artists know those wonderful little places in the world that can be quiet yet so beautiful and inspiring. Places where the spirit can soar and be energized. Places where the light of day or dawn or dusk passes through the landscape with such delicate beauty or sharp contrasts that merely seeing it can stop you in your tracks.

We returned from this trip more relaxed than ever. A calm joy filled our hearts and we knew there was no way this trip could have been any better. Now I know for certain how I want to continue traveling. The places you see stand in your memory, but the people you meet are who you talk about to others and become the highlight of your trip. (plus you can still stay in touch with them afterwards...)

Next time you find yourself going on a holiday, I strongly suggest you connect with some strangers before you go. The internet makes it so easy. If you're an artist, go meet other artists. They're everywhere and easy to find. Go exchange ideas. Meet them in a coffee shop for tea. Go paint together. Anything. If you've been communicating with them for months, you won't fear meeting them. After all they weren't on the internet stalking you, you're the one who contacted them...

Think about it. It will be the best part of your trip!

1 comment:

  1. What a great post Susan, there seems to be a tradition of hospitality for US travelers going across the pond - I studied in London one summer during College and a whole list of friends of friends wanted me to come and visit them. The Londoners were very hospitable and humorous and really seems to like Americans. I am so glad you mentioned this! if/when I ever travel overseas again I will write some artists at my destination and see what happens...


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