A self-proclaimed gypsy is what I am – a traveler of time and space. I travel as often as I can with air wagons by the name of Boeing and Airbus, I travel through people in the name of beautiful positive minded strangers whenever I get the opportunity to meet them and I travel through art. Art allows me to travel whenever I want, no setting aside travel budget, no leave application, no detailed preparation and packing – just time and art-state-of-mind.
My solo travel last September gave me the realization how travel can do so much good for my soul. When out there, solo or not, be completely there and embrace the adventure fully as a true traveled would.
It is no-brainer how you travel space with physical travel but how do you travel time? Perhaps the thoughts of visiting museums and historical places jumped quickly into your minds but that is elementary. The stories of the soul of the city are being told in museums but it does not reside there. The soul of a city is out there, it can’t never be found through literature and exhibits at the museums, it will reveal itself by roaming the streets and ideally, by getting lost in it.
Historical locations are great but a city is not made of a certain buildings, streets or landmarks. See more of how they exist in the cityscape between the old and new, think about when, why and how they were built, think about what used to be there at the very site before that, think about what had to ungraciously bow out of the city to make way for the sky scrappers and malls (if that was the case). It is only then that we get a clue, a feel of the city – what was there, how much of what that will remain in the future – in the tunnel of time. My example is concrete jungle biased but the principle is the same for any location be it the empty site of an ancient ruins or the wilderness in some remote location.
Getting to know the city or a location means nothing without any interaction with the inhabitants, the people carry a lot about the past more than they know it. The ability to ask the right questions is a prerequisite for a true traveller, a question can journey into the past and future, that’s how you travel time, through the people, through fragments of long histories that are there in their memories that sometimes need patching up, stories of yesteryears that are more personal, reminiscences of joys and regrets, and hopes of tomorrow.
Travelling through people has another added dimension – their travel stories. You travel through their stories of travel adventures and you relive your own as you share with them yours. What I learnt during my travel last September was that your next-country-to-travel list grows as you travel, inspired by the stories of fellow travellers. You may strike off one or two destinations when you go out there to explore but it is highly likely that you end up adding more to your list by the time you reach home. Nothing bad about it for a true traveller, it feeds the spirit of wanderlust.
The easiest way to travel time while travelling is through art (and culture), through literature, paintings, performing arts and all there is in the bricks and mortars and flesh and blood of a city and its dwellers. Some may say they are not artsy-fartsy to do this, I’ll say, all it takes is a curious mind of a traveller. Tourists are less curious.
I love being lost when I travel. Being lost like this is like collaborative art where the place, people and I, all merged together as if the canvas, the colors and painter becomes one and the work of art is the beautiful feeling of a floating belonging to a place that is foreign yet welcoming and comforting. It’s like seeing something that others don’t in an abstract painting, you feel like you know the painting better with it but others feel the same by seeing something else that you don’t. It’s like finding a piece of myself hidden somewhere in the city, while another can only be found somewhere else and I need to keep on going not knowing where the final piece will be found.
Coming back to travelling through people, art can be travelled through people too. People you meet during your travel and people you meet in your own city, locals and foreigners can be artists and if not, there is also a chance that they enjoy the same interest in art as you do. There is always something to talk about and share when you meet people during and after your travel. I suppose travelling itself is an art if you put passion into it.
My interest in art, especially in writing and painting has always been there. Plaque by the need to conform to the society standard and guilty of being sucked into self-en-slavery in the name of making a living, the interest in writing and painting remained untouched. Many attempts to write and paint over the years failed as making a living as what I have gone through left me uninspired. I’m back to writing and painting devotedly now. My spiritual journey has led me to being a calmer person and my indulgence in art brings me more calmness. The beautiful thing about this is calmness inspires me creatively even more and as I act upon my creativity more calmness presents itself. This kind of enlightenment is simply amazing.
I’m an old-fashioned gypsy, I imagine wooden wagons and horses as my way of travelling so spaceships and teleports seem really out of place but then again, they best describe the point I’m trying to make. When writing and painting I travel through time as well as space. They are my spaceships that allow me to travel within me as far and as deep as my imagination takes me, across the universe inside me. They are my teleports that can send me anywhere in time when I write and make me lose track of time when I paint. If time is an illusion then art is my collusion with illusion. Perhaps this will make sense to Einstein.
Everybody has their spaceship and teleport of choice and mine happens to be writing and painting. I believe that true art is ego-less. It is not about who is better – it does not matter who owns a better spaceship and teleport. Art to me is a celebration, a celebration of humanity in the name of love, peace and harmony. There is no better art, just better celebrated art because more can relate to it be it in the most common or most bizarre of ways. Share with me your spaceships and teleports. I’m in the mood to celebrate hard.
This is piece from Seni on Sunday, a weekly column where we invite guest writers to share their two sens about art. As an art advocate, we believe the public must be empowered to appreciate and express the arts. This is a safe space for sharing, in hopes that it would encourage and initiate arts discourse within contemporary Malaysia. The views and opinions expressed does not necessarily reflect Daily Seni’s stand on the matter.
This week we feature Zukarnine S. – a gypsy looking for himself and home between long travels and flights. He copes with his mundane corporate GLC work by travelling on a whim – solo or with kindred spirits – to recharge, usually in his trusty pair of Tarik Jeans denims. Otherwise he reads, listens to jazz or paints. Follow him @jeepseajoey on Twitter and Instagram.