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Life & Philosophy Quotes Travel

Leaving home “seems part of your duty in life”

“I was never a big fan of people who don’t leave home. It just seems part of your duty in life.”

Joan Didion

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Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal Travel

The serenity of movement

Images stitched together, creating a serenity of movement of time past.

The trip that was/is one to behold and remember forever: India.

Categories
Culture Politics & Society Travel

A place called home

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Photo by Wells Baum

My dad couldn’t wait to leave Youngstown, Ohio growing up. There was a vast world out there he wanted to explore. He preferred to exit a place he couldn’t change in exchange for one where he could find more creative stimulation and meet different folks.

It didn’t take long for his away to feel like home, as was the case with my own upbringing. After my family moved from Dallas to New York, ‘Big D’ felt small and insular in retrospect. However, it was only upon visiting Youngstown to see my grandmother years ago that I witnessed a more parochial side of America.


In big cities, you’re just another unknown. In small towns, you can’t even hide; your family reputation precedes you from the coffee shop to the church. Being a somebody instills the false notion that everything is going to be ok because your relatives and neighbors share similar interests. But like-mindedness traps people into fitting in without questioning the status quo.

I understood why my Dad felt the urge to leave his hometown to seek new challenges. As Tocqueville observed, “Why raise your voice in contradiction and get yourself into trouble as long as you can always remove yourself entirely from any given environment should it become too unpleasant?”

But small towns like Orange City, Iowa are proving to be more elastic. Locals who left town in search of big city dreams are returning and bringing their changed perspectives with them. That doesn’t mean traditional values are withering, but it does mean that the provincial can come to tolerate ethnic and religious disparities without isolating the other. It’s worth noting that cities carry their own biases; in gentrified cities like San Francisco, the homeless sleep in newspapers just outside the homes or billionaires.

Democracies are supposed to be noisy, pluralistic places that progress through open dialogue. While the internet accelerated communication and appeared to knock down borders, it also led people back into tribes. The only way to salvage openness is to experience the world beyond your original birth place (urban or rural) and then come back with an appreciation for discussing differences face to face.

A tolerance for dialogue and discomfort makes territories on a map more arbitrary than they already appear.

Categories
Travel Video

A 3,900-mile journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

What is it about train journeys that make us feel more alive than taking a plane or riding in the car?

For one, trains are part of the environment. Like snakes, they can weave in and out of nature. They go unimpeded into mountains, cities, forests, and slither by oceans.

There’s no better way to see the world than riding the train.

It gives us a chance to paint the world with our eyes. Each blink of an eye flashes novelty, like scrolling an Instagram feed into life. 

Trains are just what we need in a dizzying mobile-first society. They give us a chance to slow down, but at the same time light up the brain with curiosity and compel us to see more, do more, and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.

PS. I took the train from Seattle down to Los Angeles once, not quite the length of Moscow to the Far-East on the Trans-Siberian Railway, but undoubtedly a memorable one. It was an excellent time to reflect on my own life’s journey and to take pictures. I wrote a semi-fictional book about the trip earlier this year, which you can read for free right here.

Categories
Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal Poetry Travel

A window into perception 🚗

All photos by Wells Baum

Outside the windows, where I focus my attention on an overstretched street light backed by a series of palm trees, bicyclists brushing past the American flag on LA’s 405, with vehicles that match camouflage into their immediate surroundings.

Through the lens of a window were sights too commanding, mirroring objects with my third eye.



Categories
Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal Poetry Travel

The wait that meant now

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gif and photos by Wells Baum

The flash before me,
the bird,
the plane,
a clash of serendipity,
the wait! meant now.