“Nothing, Everything, Anything, Something: If you have nothing, then you have everything, because you have the freedom to do anything, without the fear of losing something.” ― Jarod Kintz
It is a long time ago now and it feels as if it was. I was a different person back then, a different version of me living in a different world. But I remember those three weeks of getting lost on Swedish roads well. Mum and I had decided it was time for a different kind of holiday, and instead of the warm coast of the south we took to the cold roads of the North. We didn’t have a plan, we didn’t have a list of things we wanted to see or do. All we knew was that we’d drive north and turn back down once time would make us.
“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.” ― Tom Hiddleston
We went deep into Sherpa territory when we visited Nepal last time. “People are so focussed on Everest that they overlook the other beautiful peaks in the area,” Suman sighs. He points down at the pass that would take adventurers to the start of the trail to Everest base camp before they build an airfield high up in the mountains, one of the most challenging landing zones in the world. “Everyone just gets on a plane to Lukla nowadays, the pass forgotten.” I look at the trail, a small stripe of grey in a muddy landscape, far down the mountain we are ascending on our way to Pique. Typical. We’re all so focused on reaching our destination that the journey there hardly matters anymore. A plane flies by in the distance, it is way below us; we watch it until the sound of the engine dies out.
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau,
In the beginning, we had planned to work a month as wwoofers in the farm of a 70 years old couple, in small hamlet close to Oslo. Difference of opinions and generational conflict, we had stayed one week. After a few talks, some trees planted, a lawn-mower broken and window-panes well cleaned, we had decided to escape for the fjords of Sognfjord. This is the summary of three days of our one month trip, in a place where time seemed to pass differently.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Sometimes, when the sun is bright and sand slips between my toes, when the seagulls cry and the children run and play the memories come back to me. Or when I am in bed, looking at the ceiling, a soft breeze entering through the window. Or when I am in the car and I wind down the window and my hair blows wild, when I listen to the radio or when I walk past french speaking tourists. On any of these moments, and many others I can’t recall right now it all comes back to me. All the summers we spent in the south of France, me, my mum and dad, my friends. We all went back every year, for years and years and over time we had become a little community. Most of us children knew each other and some of the parents did too.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ― Mark Twain
The Nepalese Hindus burn their death alongside the holy Bagmati river. The mighty river is reduced to a mere stream when we visit her. I’ve never seen something this polluted and worshipped at the same time. “This man has not been dead for more than six hours.” We give way too much money to the boy that followed us ever since we set foot in Pashupatinath, the holy temple complex, just to be alone. It is hard to be alone in Kathmandu nowadays; the people are desperate.
‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ – Steve Jobs
Sven came crashing in guns blazing and inked to the eyeballs. This rebel decided he wanted to be a photographer only a year ago (I still remember him being really bouncy about buying his first roll of film) and making a name for himself in a very short amount of time. He is a busy little fucker, not only taking pictures but also throwing some paint at canvasses (and people) in his free time, modelling for denim brands and running a lifestyle blog here and there. About time we had a chat with this busy bee from Holland.
Our day in Liverpool ends quickly though and the next day we find ourselves on yet another ferry to Dublin, where we get our first taste of Gaelic. All the road signs are both in English as in Gaelic and I rejoice in trying to say all the words out loud. I quickly memorize the word for exit as we pass the sign at least every five minutes on the highway and I don’t think I ever stopped saying it during those three weeks.
Ireland, I haven’t seen you for a while. A couple of years it has been since my feet touched your soil, but if I think of you I hear the music playing in my head and images of roads winding under flowery skies and over green hills littered with stone hedges come to me clear as if it happened just yesterday.
It was quiet out here, too. Dead kangaroos on the side of the street. The woman at the only roadhouse between Mildura and Broken Hill only said “Yay” and nothing else. It was getting hotter and hotter, red dirt roads branched off from the main street. I got used to driving straight, taking photos out of the car, changing CDs and started to like them now, tried to practise the Spanish rolling R. There was nothing else to do than driving and waiting for something.
It always takes some time to get used to yourself again. I had spent the last two months surrounded by other travellers, started similar small talks every day with different people, and found out new things about faraway countries every other day. Now I was on my own, driving out of Melbourne, and I had forgotten how quiet and lonely it can be behind the rental car’s doors. I had forgotten what I looked like on my own. The outside rushed past without a noise like a movie on a screen with a volume turned down to silence: the trees, the houses, the heat. I had a moving room of my own, my Canon A-1 and a notebook on the passenger seat.
“After going through bankruptcy, I felt it was time to take a distance, to oversee my development and to understand more of the world. I left for South-America and traveled there for six months, realizing that we live together on a planet, that sharing is a beautiful experience, and that I don’t live to work.”
Naan Eldering is a Dutch storyteller who uses different outlets to reach his audience. He designs, writes and photographs what he observes, in an attempt to help people perceive in a more detailed way, to be more amazed. It wasn’t hard to imagine Eldering walking around the forest as a kid chasing gnomes. It is this amazement we have when we are children, when we venture out into the world that Naan still seems to posses. He shares this amazement on his website called ‘Kijkman’ (Dutch for watchman) where he shares his adventures, writes critical pieces and reflects upon society. His fascination with the human perception and representation of the world seeps through on every page. We spoke to Naan about writing, perceiving in a time where we are drowned in a flood of imagery and his adventures as a travel guide.