Second home

Posted by on Mar 17, 2011 in Blog, Life, News & Events, Philanthropy, Travel | One Comment

My family considers Japan our second home.

We named our son Akira after a close friend we made while staying there a while back. We’ve visited many times and try and get back there as often as possible.

Akira studies Japanese for 80 minutes every day at school, in the hope that he forms a similar connection to a country his parents love. We perhaps went overboard as he has wanted to live there instead of Australia since the age of 5.

Akira’s best friend at school is Japanese, along with many other friends at his international school. He not only learns the language every day but delves deeply into the culture, environment, systems, flora, fauna, landscape, food and way of life in his ‘favourite place in the world’. Dan and I fight over who gets to help Akira with his Japanese homework to test our own flimsy grip on the language.

My first photographic exhibition was images from Japan and my hard drive is clogged with thousands of others from this wonderful country. The numerous artworks on our walls at home are a testament to our Japanophilic obsession.

My travel file is filled with details of our next planned journey to Japan, strangely enough to the north-east of the main island. Our close friend Noriko was due to travel back to her homeland last week but instead we sat with her at their table watching horror upon horror unfold.

I was about to sit down to a Chinese dinner with family when I first noticed the newsflash about the quake and tsunami. I honestly felt sick to the stomach and sat with my eyes glued to the corner TV instead of downing my roast duck.

Things of course haven’t improved much since then in terms of feeling any better about Japan’s devastation. I turn to the news frequently for updates but I’m a sensitive person and don’t last long when the human face of the tragedy is shown.

These are the most extraordinary people who have welcomed me into their country warmly and graciously over and over again.

One man drove his car 200km to return a bag I stupidly left on a bus and then apologised to me and gave me a gift. A waitress in a country town offered Dan and I a place to stay at her grandmothers house when we were cycling around the country. A bus load of elderly Japanese women bought Dan and I drinks after we cycled to the top of a particularly steep hill. Another lady drove around to every hostel in Nara throughout the night until she found the one we were staying at to return Dan’s jacket he had left at her restaurant.

These are extraordinary people. They are warm, gracious and welcoming. They are humble and stoic. They are also hilarious, fun and optimistic. They’re intelligent, talented and courageous. Many of them are our friends. All of them are our brothers and sisters. And I can’t begin to express how upset I am.

The world seems a little too fragile at the moment, doesn’t it? But we all have to remain positive, strong and kind-hearted. Please, do what you can to help. Trust me, the Japanese would give all they had if the situation was reversed.

x Andy

Girl in the Window

Taking off

Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Blog, Goals, Life, Plans, Travel | No Comments

There’s a guy I know of that works really hard. Probably 7 days a week but he’s doing what he loves, which is great. One of his main focuses and passions is travel, just like me.

He works in travel and has connected with people all over the world through his work. He gets offers to stay with any number of people when he chooses to go to a particular country or city. Which is lovely, except that the guy likes solitude, just like me.

So a few days ago he decided to do exactly what he loves doing…jump on a plane to a far away country and get lost in the culture, anonymously. I can’t begin to tell you how jealous I am. How every cell in my body wants to do exactly the same thing.

I have the money, I could make the time (by quitting my job) (whatever) and I certainly have the desire. I just don’t have the freedom and circumstance. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change things for the world because the very thing stopping me is also the most important – my child.

Yes, that’s right. The guy I know doesn’t have kids. He has a wife but you can leave wives, reason with them. You can tell them you love them and that you’ll be back soon. You don’t have to make sure they’re awake, feed them breakfast, get them dressed, brush their teeth, makes their lunches and ship them off to school, pick them up again, dinner, bed, PJs, teeth, reading, playing, singing and putting them to sleep. Every day of the week.

And of course I wouldn’t give it up for the world but oh! to have the freedom again to just be able to pack a bag, book a flight and head off. Dan and I did this for about 6 years, non-stop. Every 3 months usually. Can you imagine! People thought we were crazy and I admit finding a new place to live and work every 3 months has its challenges but oh the adventure!!

But I am held firmly in my domestic routine now and I am happy, truly. But what if I could be this content and still keep traveling? All of us…our little family of three. Not possible you say? What about schooling? What about my responsibilities? Well, I’m not saying I’m going to do it but I could. I know I could because people do. Not many but check these guys out…

This family is beautiful. A mum, dad and young girl from California who decided to undertake an extended family holiday around the world and just never stopped. I think they will have been going 5 years this September with their little girl heading towards the age of 10.

They have god to guide them and their girl sounds like a little genius but, besides that, they seem pretty similar to my little family. So why can’t we do it? Anybody? Please tell me why, otherwise I might just be tempted to join them…

x Andy

Waiting World

Passion & purpose

Posted by on Jan 7, 2011 in Blog, Life, News & Events, Photography, Travel | One Comment

Up until the age of 25 I didn’t really have any specific passion or purpose in life. Most of my friends had careers, strong relationships, savings for homes and 10 year plans. I was single, wandering the world and snapping pics. I was living in the moment, amazed by the incredible people and places I went, learning, exploring and in a constant state of inspiration and bliss. And then it hit me. This was passion. This was not just an open-ended holiday. This was me.

Apart from my family, my passions are travel and photography. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked this out. More so that they fit so perfectly well together. I have other interests that also fit nicely into my passion pie…writing, culture, philanthropy, research, learning, festivals and climbing mountains. There are many others too but these are the ones that spring to mind early on a Friday morning.

I also count my lucky chickens every day that I found a life partner that not only shares my passion but encourages and supports me in my pursuits. (Pretty sure I’ve mixed my metaphors back there, sorry). Dan has similar and complimentary interests and an energy for life that could power small cities.

It is all very well to have these passions but what to do with them? I feel compelled to share my experiences in the hope that people will feel more engaged with the world around them, inspired to travel, to appreciate their lives, learn, be moved, or at the very least to nod their heads with a hint of a smile on their lips and just enjoy a bit of art, for arts sake.

With this in mind, I invite you all to my second solo exhibition at Breathing Colours Gallery in Balmain on Tuesday 25th January from 6-8pm. Flash Life is a collection of collages of 120 images of the wondrous New York City.

It sounds so lovely and simple doesn’t it? Just popping a few pictures on a white wall. In the coming days and weeks I will share with you the process of putting on a photographic exhibition. I’m only mildly freaking out about my loomingly lengthy  list of To Do items. Eek!

x Andy

Green Medusa