Publisher's Note: The Travel Issue 2015
by Lisa Burwell
Not all those who wander are lost —J. R. R. Tolkien
The world seems much smaller than it used to. The digital stratosphere has us connected wherever we go and has made it possible to communicate near or far; therefore, it makes sense that we seem to travel hither and yon with more frequency than ever before.
Speaking for myself, the main reason I can travel more now is that I have the ability to be connected to the office almost anywhere I go. When going on vacation fifteen years ago, back in the pre-BlackBerry era, I enjoyed the ability to actually vacate from my normal routine and disconnect from my “real” world. That to me was part of the great escape. But now, with the many tethers of communication, I am only half-immersed in the new destination I have traveled to because I am still checking voicemail, e-mails, and text messages.
Everything has trade-offs, and I’m not complaining about having the freedom to explore new places around the globe. But I sure do miss the old-fashioned way of travel: when you were there, you were there—not here. Actually, one of my favorite places in the world to escape to is just a two-hour drive from where I live—Apalachicola, Florida. Besides the obvious allure of the town’s nostalgic charm, one of the primary reasons I love it is that while I’m there, my phone is outside of the network. I feel that I am able to truly be there.
We all know the call of the siren when we hear it, and we usually can’t wait to go to someplace new. It may be because we are bored or just in need of rest, but I’ve come to realize for myself that, more often than not, I just want to escape the routine of deadlines and always being connected. Sure, I want to see, explore, and learn of new places—the emotional and visceral need to get out and go is practically an ancestral genetic memory that rears its head and pushes me to get out and go. But mostly, it is simply a need to escape the bondage of the routine that awaits me at home. The irony of my quandary is that I could not travel if I wasn’t connected to my life back home, so I will embrace modern connectivity and continue to explore.
In this, our very first travel issue, we have many places to see and learn about from the perspectives of different sojourners who were in search of either rest or enlightenment. Iceland, Ireland, Venice, Nepal, and even our own local Mexico Beach, Florida, are featured within these pages. Our cover artist, Shantell Martin, has traveled the globe extensively herself, and she shares her philosophy, artistry, and uniqueness in the feature entitled “Life in Black and White.” I met Shantell several years ago when she was a guest visual artist at Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach. This collaboration was a long time in the making, but we both agree that the timing couldn’t be better. Shantell is on the verge of becoming an international sensation, and when we asked her to create her magic for the front and back covers of VIE using the theme of a world map, she agreed. In fact, she commented on the funny coincidence that one of MIT’s attractions to offering her a teaching position in their media lab was that her artwork was reminiscent of maps. I went to visit Shantell at her SoHo studio in NYC this past September, and I continue to stand in awe of this self-made artist/teacher/life coach. One of the most intriguing aspects of Shantell’s journey is that she is her own marketeer and pursues her career with a similar methodology to her art work. She follows the pen—one stroke at a time.
I believe that traveling can be a great teaching experience, but it’s not just about seeing new places. One of the lessons is about cultivating patience when things don’t go as planned; another might be the revelation that others around the world live in more humble surroundings than we imagined. Sometimes it’s good to travel just so we can appreciate what we have when we get home. Nonetheless, the siren call of wanderlust will beckon again, and I will be listening.