Phew! That’s the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge done and dusted for another year.
Before I go any further, I’m going to provide a quick list of posts before I reflect on the challenge itself (just in case you’re going to read one post and go no further.)
This year, I had trouble signing up, but decided to go ahead with my usual write-on-the-run approach instead of being prepared, organized and “this is something I prepared earlier”. However, despite almost combusting in this intense pressure cooker environment, writing on the run also gives my posts a sense of immediacy and intimacy, which might be lacking otherwise. Moreover, with the changing state of coronavirus around the world this year, it worked particularly well and helped me feel more in tune with the times. For me, it’s not a time where you want to be out of step with the people no matter who you are. You’re putting something out there into the pond and it needs to have some kind of synergy with the mood of the times.
What do you think? Or, perhaps, it’s a case of: “Hey, Ro. Get off your soap box.”
As you know, my theme for this year was: “Places I’ve Been.” My thinking behind this idea was to post a series of bright, colourful photos of where I’ve travelled in the past at a time where planes right around the world are ground, borders are closed and travel is banned. Indeed, travellers have been in quarantine and isolation and a cruise ship, the Ruby Princess which returned to Australia without her passenger being screen for coronavirus A month after its return, 19 passengers were dead in Australia, two deaths were reported from the US and more than 600 had tested positive. With around 200 of the 1100-odd crew struck down with the virus, the ship spent weeks moored at Port Kembla. With all these travel bans in place, I even had a few friends contact me during my series on Facebook suggesting I contact the Police about travelling at the moment. That was a pat on the back. I’d truly recreated the immediacy of travel, even though one of these trips dated back to 1983.
However, as usual my posts were much longer than anticipated and I actually managed to clock up 32, 650 words.
The series also allowed me to write up a good swag of my own travel stories and experiences and I’m already in the process of editing them and putting together a hard cover book at least for the family. Well, at least I’m downloaded all the stories and created word documents with the photos removed. It’s a start.
It also allowed me to redefine travel. That we tend to think of travel in terms of going to various places. Or, visiting particular sites, which creates a sort of check-list type of travelling. I’ve going here. What’s there to see. Let’s get through this place as quickly and efficiently as possible and get onto the next one. It’s this kind of travelling that leaves tourists heads spinning. I’ve seen 50 churches, been to 20 galleries and my heads spinning like a zoomed up merry-go-round where you desperately just want to get off. Oneed, after also staying in so many hotel rooms, it can be a relief to get back home to your own bed and stop living out of a suitcase.
That’s not generally how I’ve traveled. I spent roughly nine months in Europe back in 1992 and I barely planned anything and wandered around. Met and lived with locals and chatted with other backpackers from around the world in cafes. Sure, I had time on my side and we lived on the smell of an oil rag to stretch our money almost to breaking point. However, we had breathing spaces to take it all in, and we had the rest of our lives to fit it all in.
Anyway, as I said, this series allowed me to redefine what “travel” mean to me. It wasn’t just about place, but it was also about people. Indeed, when we visited Ipswich, that was all about seeing my grandparents and how the family home can become that place.
I also learned a lot about myself. My personal journey has experienced a number of earth-shattering blows where it’s at least felt like everything I have and have ever known has been destroyed and I’ve had to rebuild myself from scratch, while the people and structures around me have continued virtually unchanged. For me, that’s been the result of three acute life-threatening health and disability issues, which have seriously limited my capacity to travel, along with the resulting loss of employment which has left me without a personal income.
Yet, despite these blows, I’ve continued to travel and view new places and experiences through the pen and the lens and share these experienced here on Beyond the Flow. Working through this series, therefore, sharpened my identity as a traveler, a person who lives and breathes for travel and just because it’s on a different scale to what it used to be, that doesn’t change who I am.
So, so to reach personal break though during the A-Z Challenge, speaks volumes and I’m naturally very grateful. Every year, I find the process of structuring a series of almost random things into a cohesive theme creates profound outcomes. It produces a creative energy I struggle to explain. Have you found that? I also suspect that writing all my posts within the stressful confines of the 30 days contributes to that alchemy. You throw all these random things into the pressure cooker and every year, I’ve been dished up with a surprising masterpiece.
I’ve also made friends. Indeed, I still have friends I made on the very first A-Z Challenge I did something like five years ago. Once again, I’ve made some new ones this year and I’m certainly intending to keep in touch, especially after going through social isolation and lock down together. We’ve forged a bond.
So, I’d like to thank everyone who organizes this every year and everyone who has visited Beyond the Flow, but I’d also love to welcome you over to visit.
On that note, it’s time to say Goodbye for another year, although I hope to see at least a few of you in between. I also hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe as the coronavirus crosses the globe. Bless you!
Love & best wishes,