Inspire Travel: Down to Newcastle

If I had been a financially adept man, I would’ve divvied up my spending habits into an organized chart to show where all my money was going and what it was I was trading numbers for. However, I didn’t need a spreadsheet to tell me this information, because I already knew where the money went and where it is going to go.

Good food. Skills. And travel.

Priorities are reflected in the patterns that show up in spending. I’ll buy a movie ticket every now and then but the chance for experiences is where my awareness focuses.

Story:

I was sitting under a lamppost in south Brisbane where the park offered free wi-fi. I had been staying in a hostel for the past few nights and was getting concerned that I was wasting the little time I had free in Australia.

Going off in a mental debate on what to do next, a notification “ting” brought my attention to my ipod that had automatically connected to the wifi network and picked up the incoming message from a fellow I had met back in Sydney a few months prior.

The message was an invitation to come down towards Newcastle for a chance to hangout. The idea of the travel sparked an all too familiar excitement. I ran through the calculations in my head as to how much money I needed for the coming month and how much the cost would be to travel down south for a day or two. Of course the trip was out of budget but the adventure and experience sang a far greater tune than the thought of running out of money. Leaving the funds up to fait I spent what little money I had and embarked down to Newcastle for the thrill of spontaneity.

In a days time I found myself smelling the breezy Newcastle air and felt the familiar rush of novelty that places have upon arrival. My means to connecting to the world were boiled down to wifi where it was offered and a facebook app on an old number letter cell-phone. I had yet to hear back from my friend who sparked this adventure and was walking about the small airport trying to figure out the public transportation system.  Finally I got word from my friend and discovered that the invitation was sent a few days to early, for he was busy with work in the next town over.

Being accustomed to the mishaps of travel, this scenario had already been considered. Soon I would find a new reason to be in Newcastle and the reason later revealed itself to be in the kindness and grace of individuals. From the bus driver who let me hitch a free ride from the airport to the city center to the coffeehouse lady who spent a whole minute making sure I got connected to the wifi network that other places were always so protective and insecure about.

An adventure from beginning to end. A bouncy flight over the puffiest clouds I have seen yet, and a constant rush of buses, bookings, and a sweat wind-down of good company, barbeque, and big-screen Game of Thrones in the super chill hostel.

There is so much more to the experience of travel than just the getting from one place to another. Travel expands your world in ways that are humorously simplistic and it constricts your desires of comforts and securities. The pages of the world’s books are in the subtle differences from place to place. Go find them.

 

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Inspire Creation: Story of The Gentle Sword

Story:

Once upon a winter, in the cold valley of the Sagami province of Japan, legends tell of the swordsmith Masamune. Whose reputation as Japan’s greatest swordsmith sparked a challenge from his ambitious student Muramasa. The challenge was to be a contest of who could make the better sword.

Both smiths returned to their forges and began the tireless work of crafting the sword. After many days and nights, their Katana’s were revealed; glistening in the sunlight, brightly carrying the marks of the smith. Marks that span time; frozen in silent steel.

The competition was to be held in a slow flowing stream. Both smiths revealed a naked blade and lowered the cutting edges into the current of the the stream. Both watched the effect each blade had on the surrounding flow of life.

A fish swam gently, using the current of the water to slowly guide itself down the stream. The fish did not seemed phased when Muramasa’a blade divided the fish in two. Floating up dead, the fish continued down the stream. A leaf bouncing atop the ripples of the stream was cut swiftly and seamlessly, as if the sword was never there, the leaf continued its journey.

All the while, Masamune held a calm expression in his presence and attention to the stream flowing beneath him. The fish simply swam around the edge of his blade, and the leaf treated the great sword as just another ripple in its path downstream.

With grin, Muramasa mocked Masamune for creating such a dull katana, unable to cut even a delicate leaf. Unfazed by the mocking, Masamune calmly dried the blade and sheathed the katana once more. Before both smiths departed from the stream, a monk who had been watching the whole contest walked up to the two smiths, bowed, and explained what he had seen.

“The first of the swords was by all accounts a fine sword, however it is a blood thirsty, an evil blade as it doesn’t discriminate as to who or what it will cut. It may just as well be cutting down butterflies as severing heads. The second was by far the finer of the two, as it doesn’t needlessly cut that which is innocent and undeserving”

 

 

One brought the gardener to the war

The other brought the warrior to the garden

 

 

source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/252060910367459846/visual-search/?x=0&y=0&w=564&h=375
A sword made by Masamune, in the Tokyo museum.

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Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford. 2004. “TALES OF OLD JAPAN”
Masamune. Wikepedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masamune)
Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/252060910367459846/visual-search/?x=0&y=0&w=564&h=375

Inspire Adventure: Enter Norway

Travel has been the universal catalyst. It has made men think faster, imagine larger, want more passionately. The returning traveller brings home disturbing ideas.

– Daniel J. Boorstin
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Oslo Winter

Story:

I was nearing the end of my stay in the city of Oslo, when the realization dawned on me that I had yet to find what it was that initially sparked this winter adventure to the north. Analyzing the time and rescources I had left, I dug out a tourist map I had received in the first few hours of my arrival in the snowy landscape. On the map I saw traces of the past few days; the edges of the folds began to fade and tear, and the dampness of the paper made not tearing the map a real challenge.

Upon looking at the map, I made out the word “museum.” I had not seen this museum before, despite its location being far closer than many of the sites and places I had seen in the previous days. An idea that had not been considered before made finding this museum an intriguing last minute goal.

DSCN0366I soon discovered that finding the building proved more difficult than I had first thought, rather than a square grid-like system, Oslo’s streets span out like a spider web that only a local would be able to efficiently navigate. To make things more challenging the streets are poorly labeled and every road is parralled with buildings that constantly make for a enclosed canyon like feel. Finally after many wrong turns and the many distractions of the beautiful Norwegian women walking by, I found the building.

I entered the building and a calm-voiced lady welcomed me, telling me the entry-prices and that I had to check in my backpack. After stuffing my bag into a small locker she handed me the corresponding locker key, smiled and gestured me towards the exhibition entrance.

I passed artifact after artifact, telling the stories and history of this cold crisp land. The inspiration and surge of finding the building began to die down and I began to feel a bit doubtful about spending what little time I had in a museum. But upon turning a corner I walked into an unexpected set of depictions and artifacts.

Depicted life size on the wall was a man in confrontation with a great bear with only a spear as reasurrence to his ill choice in opponents. Intrigued, I read the little informational squares scattered throughout the room, more thoroughly than the previous rooms and I came to understand that this man was a representation of the Sami people. And far more surprising was the cultural practices of the Sami that I had read in the room, and how they were in a lot of ways similar to my own people across the sea.

My mind opened abit more to understand that the word indigenous is applicable to the European cultures in many more ways than I had previously thought.

Finally after a few more exhibits, I arrived in the world I was looking for and was accuratley greeted by a wall of ancient swords. I found something I had hoped to find in my travels to Norway. The metal works of the Vikings; swords that were crafted and weilded by people of the renown Norse warrior culture.

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My intrigue leaped into a frantic questioning of the security guard if he knew any blacksmiths. He barely spoke english, but I think he understood that he didnt have what I was looking for.

After a good long examination of the ancient craftmanship, I left the exhibit and walked the remainder of the tour to find the counter lady again. This time, however, I noticed a replica sword behind her counter and asked if I could hold the far too shiny sword. I was suprised by how top heavy the sword was, and wondered if it was me that needed to get stronger or if the sword was poorly made.

She then asked if I liked swords and I responded that swords were the reason I came to Norway. She was intrigued when I said I was a blacksmith, and I told her how I was inspired by the ancient Viking metalwork and was in search of Norwegian blacksmiths whom I could chat with and hopefully learn from. After hearing of my unfulfilled mission she went to the back of her counter, pulled out a city map, and gestured for me to come over.

She began to tell me of an interesting female friend of her’s who owned a coffee shop, where the friend was a simple shop keeper during store hours but after closing went behind her store and proceeded her craft at her forge. I began to laugh inside as to the coincidence of the situation, and we began to discuss the confusing details on how to get to this coffeehouse/forge.

I roughly knew the direction I needed to go and set out walking. I got to a point I considered about half way, where I could see a familiar tram-stop and the snowy hill peeking out above the buildings. I looked at my iPod and realized that the train taking me to my next destination was set to depart in another 45 minutes, about the same amount of time it would take me to walk back or walk to the woman blacksmith. It was a moment I remember well, the blacksmith in one direction and the departing train in the other.

I made a decision and moments later I made the train just in time. After catching my breath, I sat down and leaned against the large window. The train departed very smoothly and I watched Oslo’s city lights streak past. Finally when we were out of city limits I kept my attention to the black sky, hoping for a chance to see the northern lights.

 


 

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Shops Open: Story Behind the Red

REDKROW:

The story and how to live

It is a journey. Endure and be one’s self through pain and suffering. The letting go of whats not you… that is freedom.

The Story:

Long ago, the Krow was known as the creator of rainbows. He was gifted with a vast arrangement of colored feathers; and when he flew the sun glistened a rainbow reflection off his wings. And when Krow sang he made everybody around stop and enjoy his beautiful song.

However, the earth was growing colder and colder with each new year. And the winters were becoming unbearable for the animals without thick hides and large stomachs to keep them warm. Henceforth, a grand council was held with the attending of all the animals. A question was brought forth to the center.

Who would be the one to travel to the sun and bring back his warmth and light before he leaves for the winter?

The room was silent, the animals gazed up to the sky seeing the long journey ahead of whoever clamed this deed. Moments passed, then Krow walked to the center; sparking conversations because Krow was liked and loved by everyone.

“My life is full of happiness. I never feel sad or lonely because my rainbows always bring me smiles and compliments while my voice pleases all who listen, yet … I do not feel fulfilled. It’s like an itch in my mind that I can’t reach, that I can’t comfort with compliments and good feelings. But I believe that if I can share the happiness with everyone by bringing back warmth and light, then I will be fulfilled.”

The animals cheered at Krow’s loving and courageous spirit. And in an instant, Krow bounded into the air and took flight. The animals watched the rainbow gleam in his wake and finally when he was too small to be seen the animals grew quiet and waited.

Days passed and finally the animals saw a little black dot appear in the sky above. But the rainbow that once trailed behind Krow had been replaced with a trail of smoke. Krow clumsily landed in the circle and opened his beak to reveal a beautiful red coal. But the animals did not cheer or dance, for what lay before them was a mere remnant of the entity that had left mere days ago. All his feathers had been burned black and his voice had become rough and hoarse.

Finally, one of the animals asked Krow if he had found the fulfillment he had been longing for. Krow was silent for a long time and with a loud laugh “kah! kah! kah!” Krow said in his rough voice “yes my friends, I am happier than ever but not for my generosity but for the freedom I feel!” The animals were confused, so Krow flew into the nearest tree and told all animals to gather around to hear about his journey. However, nobody came because they couldn’t stand the sound of his voice. So krow looked around and laughed “kah! kah! kah!” for what he had discovered was true happiness. Finally a young wolf cub, that had been abandoned by his kin sat under the tree howled for Krow to tell his story for the wolf was blind and took an appreciation to all sounds.

Krow with smile began to speak…

“There is a pain greater than pain. When I was in the sky, the sun made no effort to make my journey easy. One by one, the heat burned off my colorful feathers and the light pierced my eyes turning them black. And with each breath, I could feel my voice burning. But all this pain was not greater then the pain I had felt in my heart … so I flew on. I don’t remember how long I flew, but at one point everything that could’ve been taken from me had been taken, and it was at that point – (Krow looked to the sky) – it was at that point that I began to glow. The sun could do no more but give me his beauty. It was clear then, I had not been losing anything, I was only clearing way for something more. As I got closer and closer to the sun, I became redder and redder. Finally, I felt it … freedom. And that is when he spoke. The sun opened his great gates and sent forth a single coal that would not extinguish to any condition. “Fly on” said the sun and continued to close his gates once more.”

The little wolf looked at Krow up in the tree and understood the meanings of the words, which he spoke. The wolf cub was free from the sights of the outer world; henceforth he now understood that he had eyes that could truly see. With a howl, the wolf cub shrieked with joy and bounded through the snow and emerged as a great white bear. Wearing a white hide, the bear ran to north to stay in the cold where he could remember the teachings he learned on that cold day.

Krow laughed and flew on.

BRIGHTER. HOTTER. FIERCER. WITHIN.

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Singing Earth: The Australias

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Sydney central

Story:

We had just finished a tour of the contemporary art museum in the central Sydney when an all too common torrential downpour of rain came through the city. We had planned to meet on a grassy lawn outside the building but after a few soaking moments and some really close lightning strikes, we calmly waited beneath the train stations large roof for our guide to come.

Our guide was an aboriginal women, who knew the Sydney landscape well. However, she knew not the streets nor the shops but the colors and blueprints in the natural life scattered throughout the city. Reminding me of the teachers and mentors I had across the ocean, she embodied a very dominant character when speaking of her laws and cultural ways.

Firmly leading the group through an interesting journey she identified the ancient world beneath the modern infrastructure. The plants, the rocks, the wind, the skin, the voice; they all told stories. The rain that came through was a later explained to us to be a great interaction of colors that represented something more but the details of which, I cannot recall.

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A world of color and a blueprint of patterns is what I remember most of her time with our group. How the shape of our hand mirrors the tree and the color of our skin is important beyond just an indicator of nationality.

New understandings come from simple listening and awareness.

 


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