it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook.
The significance of this trip:
I went to Austria alone this summer. Desiring some change, I chose not to use my beloved Moleskine journal. Instead, I went for single sheets of watercolor paper. Also, desperate for the sense of safety that only writing can give me, I brought along a really convenient and inexpensive journal of MUJI, which greatly soothed me along the way.
I told others, "This is a safe trip." Instead of emphasizing personal safety, I focus more on the meaning that there weren't great adventures, but on the other hand, it was very relaxing, which I needed at the moment. Meanwhile, I got to look back on my life in Europe before. One friend said this was a very "deep" journey. Yes, it was.
I stayed in several small rooms in different cities, but they always felt kind of dejavu to me. I couldn't ask myself, "What did I come back here for? What difference do I feel now compared with four years ago?"
My place in the new city:
I was defining the significance of my trip in my life inside the hotel room. When I walked out of the hotel, I was looking for my niche in this city. It was especially challenging when I knew that I was just one of the tourists, but I wanted to prove my difference so much.
Before I found the answer, I hid in the shade behind the door of Sisi Museum. My lines were indefinite, and I had no idea what I was doing. The cleaning lady said I should put my legs down the marble ledge, but I could sit there drawing.
It was distracting to bring so many sorts of media with me. I had to choose between the journal book and sheets of paper. And of course, there was the scorching sunshine to worry about. I found myself so busy that I really envied the big guy in the Schoenbrunn Zoo.
Sightseeing or sketching?
The purchase of a package with one ticket could blind me. To visit as many museums as possible, I would persuade myself that I had no time to sketch, so I ran around like a madman under the sun. Much as I had learned, I couldn't help feeling kind of empty.
I would go back to the same spot to make up for the view that I had missed. I realized that only when I sit down to draw peacefully will I feel cool breezes.
The day when I left Vienna, the weather took a downturn. The moment when I pulled my gigantic luggage out of the hotel, I thought to myself, "Well, at least now I don't feel lonely, if I have to list a difference from the past." Interestingly, as if to prove I was wrong, within a few hours, God bestowed the big gift on me.
On my way from Vienna to Graz, I felt more and more lonely despite the lovely scenery.
A crisis is also a turning point:
I feel especially lonely when I change hotels. Right when I feel used to one little room, I have to adapt to another room. It feels bleak. It came as a blow when I found that I didn't have an adaptor with me. "How can I stay in contact with the world I know without my iPad?"
Live at the moment when you travel:
Others envy me for my holidays, for my courage to travel alone, but truth be told, there was a lot going on inside of me. Fortunately, I always manage to find an answer: If I feel lonely, it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook.
That Sunday in Graz, tourists all left for somewhere else, most shops were closed, yet I found my most loyal partner--my sketchbook.
I sketched while waiting for the bus, while taking the bus.
While walking in the city.
While encountering artworks that I really adore.
Until I found a perfect spot for sketching. Then the passer-by would tell me, "You have a special record of the trip." I went on to say, "And a very calm feeling."
There's no need to give everything meaning:
I learned not to give everything or every picture meaning. New understanding will arise from pure observation.
Be prepared for change all the time:
I was sketching while waiting for the train in the quiet countryside only to find that the train wouldn't come. However, the shuttle bus came after I finished a sketch.
It's a must to sit in a cafe on rainy days:
Traveling is more than moving around...
I had to stop drawing in the journal at this point because not many pages were left for my text record. I actually brought paints and colored pens with me, but to my surprise, I ended up drawing in black and white. That was what I hadn't expected beforehand!