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If you’ve followed this blog with at least minimal cognizance, you know that it’s pretty much all over the place. Sure, it’s a travel and photography blog, but other than that, there is no compelling tagline like “How to Hitchhike Around the World in 40 Days.” You don’t know what you’re getting right off the bat. There’s no mission. There’s no travel advice. There are no articles entitled “World’s 5 Most Romantic Sunsets” and “Shop Till You Drop: Souvenir Steals and Deals in Sun-Laden Sicily.” Because, honestly, who the hell am I to give such advice? You are competent and intelligent people, and I’m not willing to disguise opinion as fact. And I am not intelligent enough to differentiate a romantic sunset from an unromantic one.

Despite this inconsistency and in light of this open-endedness, I love blogging. And when one loves to do something, they must nurture it and cherish it and invest time and energy to see it grow and progress. It is in this frame of mind that I introduce The Squeaky Robot’s new MO:

The rhetoric surrounding travel is a remarkably self-assured one. We talk about travel in terms of grandiose goals, lists, and expectations. We convert travel into checks to be scribbled on torn papers rather than experiences, interactions, events and tests that dramatically shape the fabric of our person, our mold, our brain chemistry. We go about it systemically with imaginary templates. Books with faceless authors tell us what to see, how to see it, and when to see it. We are told what is worthwhile and what decidedly isn’t, as if our Earth is a connect-the-dots game and the space that surrounds each point is somehow negative space, a negligible, almost inconvenient aspect of exploring the world. It’s the phrase: “Don’t go there. There’s nothing there. Go here instead.”

I reject these words and replace them with my own: everything is everywhere.

This blog addresses travel as a holistic process, one that transcends the physical, one that attacks your psychological and intellectual faculties in every foreseeable way, one that is a powerful shaper of identity and sense of self.

With this, I hope to restore and emphasize the notion that travel isn’t seeing new places, but transforming the way you see the world just by going through it.  I hope this instigates a departure from the flat rhetoric surrounding travel, and a kind of three-dimensionality results. It goes from, “I went to Zimbabwe. This is what I did,” to “I went to Zimbabwe. This is how it’s changed me and this is what I’ve learned and this is what I’ve been forced to reconsider.”
 I hope to frame travel as a phenomenon that persists long after the trip is over and the plane has landed because we carry these memories and lessons and mentalities within us.  I hope that travel is regarded as the ultimate self-education and a way to better oneself (and indeed, better the world), not just a two-week vacation with closed eyes and escapism in mind; it has never been about producing fixed answers, but more about using questions, big and small, and an open heart and mind to chip away at the grand puzzle. Because that’s what it fundamentally does: foreign adventure either reinforces or instills compassion, empathy, open-mindedness, anti-materialism, gratitude, humility, and more thoughtful consideration and understanding of not only a deeply complex and beautiful world, but one’s place in it.

Ultimately, I intend for The Squeaky Robot to be a space that is equal parts catharsis and provocation, while showcasing humanity as dynamic and travel transformative.

And while I haven’t been to Zimbabwe, I can’t wait to learn something there.

This is essentially my new mission statement. Writing and photography conveying these ideas will henceforth be found here. Some of the words and photos will have more direct relation to this MO than others, but it will always be there.

As such, this is a space for ideas. It has always been, for I’ve always tried to articulate the core of an experience and figure out how it’s all connected. I’ve tried to talk about travel like it’s a living breathing thing. I’ve tried to use this blog as a place for introspection, humility, perspective, and the occasional dirty joke. I’m not always successful, but there is merit in the attempt. This is simply me taking it up a notch. Solidifying my intentions here will give me discipline,  peace of mind, and, ultimately, a less squeaky robot.

On the subject of futures, here is what you can expect on here in the following months: new design features, several photo projects, explorations across the Land of the Free (primarily Northeast and West) in the form of road trips, and the initiation of a life in Southeast Asia by autumn. Yes, I’m moving to Vietnam. And you need no cognizance at all to know that I’ll drain the country of its soup supply.