The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “goals

The New MO

Posted on July 10, 2013

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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.

Now What?

Posted on May 23, 2013

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I have a diploma in my possession as well as a world of opportunity, I like to believe.

But now what? You’re done unpacking and you wonder, “now what?” That standing still, tilted head, hands on hips now what. A small moment with big questions and even larger answers.

In the spirit of transparency, I’m not quite sure. But uncertainty is the nature of every worthwhile endeavor. There’s a lot of cover letter writing in my midst, broken up with random Internet searches of opportunities abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia. These activities are supplemented with bucket list projects and hugging my dog. Overall a good situation to be in.

If you’re wondering what ever happened to the truck broken down in the middle of the Gobi Desert, not to worry. Mongolians make things happen.

Run Fingers Through Hair; Weigh Choices

Posted on May 6, 2013

I graduate university in less than two weeks. Here in DC, there’s a looming terror in the town and talk. It’s talk of hiring freezes, job competition, overworking, underpaying, and chronic unfulfillment. Words like “temporary” and “settling” permeate the conversations of employable sturdy youth, youth that should have its head in the clouds but instead indulges talk of 401(k)s. Any serious career advice sought inevitably begins with a condescending look and a “Oh, it’s really hard to get into,” prompting one of my very attractive snorts: No shit. Every career worth having is hard to get into. Articles regurgitating information about bleak job prospects circulate social media, along with prescriptive captions like, “Everything is terrible” and “The new child labor!!” Indeed, times are tough.…

Sinister Soups and Buckets

Posted on December 31, 2012

I did a lot of what I wanted to do this year. I hope you did too. All the same, my Bucket List 2012 will be left incomplete. I didn’t manage to run 16 miles in one session, but I set a new personal record of 11.2 miles! I didn’t read 52 books this year, but the ones I did read were enlightening and awesome and I’m a better person for it. I didn’t have dinner with my friend Amy Leah, either. If all you need in a relationship is a spark and timing, the timing was all off. This is okay. There’s always 2013. I’m still going to be running towards the big 16 and reading as many books as I can. And…

Gratuitous Photo Dump//Nikon FM

Posted on May 4, 2012

After a month-long nerve-wracking misadventure with my Nikon FM, I finally see a finished product. Film photography is dying medium, but I’m still thrilled to use it. This camera has shaved years off my life just from sheer stress, but the feeling of seeing these photos materialized feels too good; the weight on my shoulders is alleviated, I breathe easier. I think I have a problem. Cherry Blossom Festival, 2012. Ten minutes before I took this, the painter said that someone stole one of his paintings that was leaning against a nearby tree. He was fuming, and the last thing he probably wanted was for someone to steal another one of his images with a camera. A photo of the paints will have to…

Bucket List Update: Scuba Squeaky

Posted on April 29, 2012

I’m officially certified for underwater exploration, as per my Bucket List for 2012. Weirdly, the deed was done in the middle of Pennsylvania cornfield country in an old abandoned rock quarry that is now a PADI diving site. It’s also home to bass, catfish, a cement truck, a chess board complete with pieces, and a quarry barn that is likely now enveloped in algae and slime. The water was freezing and murky, a good thing for a newly certified diver. Any other water would be markedly warmer and clearer in comparison, a psychological advantage only known to cold-water divers. I’d also like to report that the lake’s fauna have no concept of boundaries, as certain inquisitive fish would swim up to our masks and…

The Squeaky Robot’s Take on Travel//The Bucket List

Posted on February 8, 2011

My travel philosophy is simple: a trip is defined by the extent you’re able to absolve your fears. The beaten path has been heavily treaded for a reason – the world’s top tourist destinations are often enlightening, rich in history and culture, and they emanate timeless beauty, whether it’s in the architecture or just the earth’s natural allure. But there’s something to be offered when you veer astray and go where few have been before. It’s important to relinquish fears for this reason. The unknown is an obscure territory that can manifest itself in travel to places that are dramatically disparate from your home – home here can mean your town, city, country, continent, comfort zone, or even political categorizations like ‘first’, ‘second’, and…

5 Ways to Better Your Day

Posted on January 26, 2011

Despite the colossally bad weather that has plagued the DC conglomerate, my day has started well. This got me thinking – how can I keep it going? 1. Rebuild bridges: Contact a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’ll be fun to reminisce and the lucky person will appreciate the effort. 2. Keep your To-Do List short and sweet: List your two most important/urgent tasks of the day and only two. Work to accomplish those and then save the rest for another day. Why run around like a headless chicken when you don’t have to? 3. For God’s sake, listen to this song. 4. Eat a green, leafy vegetable as a meal: Your digestion and conscious will thank you. 5. Don’t take…