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From the Zipkick Road trip, kayaking in Minneapolis, Scott Eddy, Jason Will and Lisa Niver August 29, 2015

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Being a Social Influencer Means … a Road Trip?

Jason Will’s years of experience as a consultant at Accenture and Slalom gave him the knowledge to launch his new travel app Zipkick, but he partnered with a social media influencer, Scott Eddy, for the marketing fuel to power the app’s trajectory.

The two have begun an epic road trip with partners in all spheres of travel and transportation. Their efforts epitomize the new paradigm in which a new company no longer needs to wait around to be recognized by print publications to break news or break down walls. Brands realize that traditional marketing efforts are not leading to the desired level of direct user engagement, and they are reallocating their funding toward digital and social media. Facebook, Periscope, SnapChat and Twitter are the millennials The New York Times.

Market intelligence and consulting firm Strategy Analytics published its latest advertising spend figures in the U.S., estimating total expenditure at nearly $187 billion and digital accounts at $52.8 billion of that. That is nearly $30 billion less than TV ad spending. However, digital remains the fastest growing of any category, increasing at a rate of 13 percent this year and up 2.5 percent versus 2014. TV’s number continues to decline annually; it is down 0.6 percent versus 2014). Print, by the way, is substantially less in third place at 15 percent of total ad spend ($28 billion). Meanwhile, social media ad spending is expected to reach $8.3 billion in 2015, up from $2.1 billion in 2014.

This shift to digital media means an opportunity for social media influencers who are able to create real time engagement with their followers at the fraction of the cost. The queen of the phenomena, Kim Kardashian, has built an empire on this principle.

One negative experience with a brand can catch fire on social media, though, and destroy the best efforts of said brand through TV and print media. This denotes the difference between “audience” and “influence.” Just because you have a large following doesn’t necessarily mean you have influence. The content and audience can determine what catches fire and what is background noise on social media platforms.

In Will’s case, he made the choice to bring Eddy, a social media influencer in the travel industry, on board as his brand ambassador. Eddy has worked with Starwood and Marriot in the hotel industry, as well as with other travel brands in assisting them in creating strong audience engagement on social media platforms. Will recruited Eddy off of Twitter. They immediately connected as they are both believers in the dramatic shift occurring in brand marketing, which leverages an influencer’s existing audience and community online and offline to build a brand’s following.

As Eddy has an audience of 671,000+ Twitter followers and growing, Will believes Eddy has the relevance he needs to share his app, the reach as Eddy’s audience is largely interested in travel and resonance as Eddy shares daily content.

The Zipkick roadtrip team (with Scott Eddy on far left and Jason Will in the driver's seat). Photo credit: Larry Wong.

The Zipkick road trip team (with Scott Eddy far left and Jason Will in the driver’s seat). Photo credit: Larry Wong.

“People follow me on Twitter because sometimes they just want to escape their daily grind of life, they have the opportunity to live my experiences, which for many reasons they might not be able to do,” says Eddy, perhaps echoing the sentiment of many influencers. “But because of their interest and following, when they do have the ability and resources to go to the places I’ve been, they need the tools to make this happen, which is why Will made the decision to leverage my audience to market his app.”

So far it’s worked. Through this engagement, Zipkick has built up over 16,000 followers on Twitter and growing daily, with many travel professionals and travel business reaching out to the company to see how they can be involved in the app. This is prior to the app’s launch, which is scheduled for the last quarter of 2015. (The app will provide personalized, mobile travel search and booking.)

To add some more fuel to their partnership, Will and Eddy are wrapping a KIA Sedona with their new Zipkick logo and driving 6,500 miles in 50 days. For some, that may be more about craziness than about influence, but stay tuned!

This article was first published at Wharton Business Magazine on August 24, 2015

Wharton Editor’s note: A bit of an influencer herself, Lisa Niver has been invited to join Eddy and Will on part of their Zipkick journey. She will spend one week traveling with them across Utah, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and Minneapolis.

 

The bright blue ocean water lapped at the white sandy beach. I sat on my beach towel watching and listening to the water roll in and out along the shore in Laguna Beach, two miles west of Panama City Beach, Fla. I remember the first time I saw the Gulf of Mexico as a nine-year-old child. I wasn’t a good swimmer, and I had no desire to swim even now. However, the ocean called my name.

I had visited a beach nine times before this trip, but this was the first time I realized the beach is my place. It is my paradise. It is where I am happiest. My two children and I had traveled 12 hours from our home in Indiana to stay on a quiet part of this white sandy beach in the panhandle of Florida. It was my first trip to this part of Florida. When I had traveled to this southern state as a child, I had always gone either to the west or east coast, and I didn’t usually stay for a week as we were doing this time.

Even though it was spring break, I had no desire to be in the heart of the action. Instead we stayed about two miles west in a quiet little town. Condominiums and small houses surrounded the small motel. If the motel’s sign hadn’t greeted us, I probably wouldn’t have known it was a motel. It blended in so well with everything else.

For every meal we could sit at the table at the front double window and watch the  ocean. We could sit on the porch and hear and see the ocean. I soaked up all I could the seven days we stayed. I began falling in love with the area even though I knew people were partying two miles away. I loved the peacefulness I could feel. Every night the sun said good night to me as it slipped down the horizon, giving us these beautiful colors in the sky.

A couple of days into our vacation, I started looking at little houses for sale. Curiosity got the best of me since I knew I couldn’t afford anything at that point. However, I could dream of an enclosed screen porch where I could write and soak in the ocean as I was on this vacation. I had never had a beach captivate me as this one did. I’m not sure if it was the white sand or the clear blue water or the quietness of the area or all of the above. Not many tourists gathered around — only the ones staying in the motel. I did find one house on down the road for sale. What little grass there was stood tall, and the house looked as though no one had lived in it for quite some time. The potential of living there jumped at me.

The beach makes me feel alive and brings me joy that I’ve never felt before. I can’t say my home state of Indiana does that except maybe in the summer. Even then I don’t have a beach where I can hear and see the ocean. I don’t know what it is about the beach, but I feel more myself when I’m there. I can relax and not think about the stress I’m dealing with back home or the craziness of what is going on with our country.

It’s like the water rolls in, grabs my troubles, and takes them back out to sea so that I don’t have to deal with them again — if only I was that lucky. But while I’m there, I don’t think about anything but relaxing and finally getting away. Maybe someday I can afford to have a place near a beach, but for now visiting as much as I can and dreaming is all I can do.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Incredible day in a Hot Air Balloon Park City, Utah

Hello from Park City Utah! Yesterday I flew for the first time in a hot air balloon with Park City Balloon Adventures! That was an amazing bucket list way to start the day. I am driving with ZipKick to Yellowstone National Park. I have always wanted to go and am so excited to be going today. There are 58 National Parks in the USA. Looking at the whole list, I realize I have been more than I thought. Our National Parks are a treasure and the National Park service is nearly 100 years old!

Many people have written to me asking about how can they visit our National Parks especially with their families. I have an idea for you!

Participate right away in the EveryDay Park Moments Photo Contest for a chance to win a trip for four to one of three iconic National Parks: National Mall and Memorial Parks (Washington, DC), Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) or Yosemite National Park (California) where the ZipKick road trip began. You need to enter between July 30th and August 31st so get your photos ready and caption with #EveryDayMoments

CONTEST INFORMATION:

To enter,  share a “selfie” or other snapshot that captures special #EveryDayMoments at local and national parks with family or friends – along with a caption. Submissions will be accepted from July 30 to August 31, 2015. Each of the winners can bring up to three guests to join them at one of three (1 of 3) National Parks packages:

  • A trip for four (4) to Yosemite National Park, including round-trip airfare to Fresno, CA, three (3) nights’ accommodations at Tenaya Lodge, an America the Beautiful Pass a choice of two (2) activities from a list provided to the winner, and a $1000 activity and spending allowance awarded to the winner.
  • A trip for four (4) to Grand Canyon National Park, including round-trip airfare to Phoenix, AZ, three (3) nights’ accommodations at The Grand Canyon Lodge, an America the Beautiful Pass, and a $2000 activity and spending allowance awarded to the winner.
  • A trip for four (4) to the National Mall and Memorial Parks of Washington, DC, including round-trip airfare to Washington D.C., three (3) nights’ accommodations at The Grand Hyatt, a Monuments and Memorials half-day photo shoot, and a dinner cruise, and a $1,500 spending allowance awarded to the winner.

ENTER HERE (see site for all contest rules and details contest closes August 31, 2015)

5 Must-haves for your family road trip

 

bre lisa kellee snorkelingAugust 2015 News from Lisa & We Said Go Travel:

TRAVEL WRITING CONTEST

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Winter 2015 Inspiration contest. The winners can be seen here. I am currently publishing the entries from the Summer 2015 Independence Writing Contest. I expect to announce the winners in early October.
The Fall Gratitude Travel Writing Contest will begin on September 11, 2015. More details: click here. Many updates are coming to We Said Go Travel and there will be a few changes to the contest. Stay tuned!
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Thank you for watching my WSGT YouTube channel which is now over 351,609  views! Enjoy movies from Los Angeles, Bermuda,  Puerto Rico, Palau, Guam, Hawaii, India as well as Bali and Lombok  Indonesia,  Southern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Nepal.  To find all 370 Videos: click here for the WSGT YouTube Channel. I am over 1000 followers on Pinterest, and up to 700+ subscribers on YouTube!
PREPARING FOR A SHARK ATTACK
From Seth Godin: Because it has always been this wayThat’s a pretty bad answer to a series of common questions.Why is the format of the board meeting like this? Why do we always structure our annual conference like this? Why is this our policy? Why do we let him decide these issues? Why is this the price?The real answer is, “Because if someone changes it, that someone will be responsible for what happens.”

Are you okay with that being the reason things are the way they are?

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When I was young, my life was a blank canvas: fresh from the chopping block and clear with possibilities. My imagination ran wild and loose on this empty landscape, and I was free to be anything and anyone that I desired to be. One day, I was the divine princess of Cypress, my home city. The day before that I had been a dragon rider, taming fire-breathing beasts with succulent sweets. The next day I would be an architect. Or maybe a zookeeper. Perhaps a fry cook. My days of youth, fueled by childhood fantasies, dripped with potential like golden honey. In the end, it didn’t matter what I ended up being because my blank canvas was ever-expanding and my dreams ran on to infinity.

            As I grew older, my canvas quickly became filled with more defined ideas and aspirations; I traded in my princess and dragon rider daydreams for a more realistic occupational goal as a veterinarian. Upon entering young adulthood, I adopted the practice of many adults of sacrificing present time to invest in a greater future. Although the spirit of my imagination was still as free as ever, my blank canvas stopped growing as a result. Only realistic ideas were allowed to be nurtured and grown in my mind. There was no more room for the ideas that I used to call fun but now defined as mere frivolity. With nowhere to run, my imagination grew weak, caged in by what once used to liberate it: my canvas.

            I hungered for freedom. Like blood on my lips, I needed to taste freedom to know that I was still alive. The world had lured me in with false promises of liberty and shackled me down. It added black lines to my canvas that acted as jail cells to confine my imagination. It cut up my canvas into neat little squares so that I would fall into this mass-produced mold of millions and come out as yet another copy. I forgot the person who stared back at me in the mirror. I lost my self-identity. Fear became a friendly face, and it held me back from exploring more of my canvas.

            Just when I thought I’d never find my blank canvas again, my freedom to dream crazy dreams, I stumbled upon one in my own backyard. It was in the form of a blank sheet of printer paper. I had no idea how it had gotten there, but the sight of such an empty item, begging for me to carve it with characteristics, got the best of me. I picked it up and ran into my room.

            I wrote the rest of the day away. Immersed in the sudden broad range of freedom, I dusted off my imagination and let it run wild again. At first, I scribbled my name across the paper, just my name. I wrote it in cursive. I wrote it in block letters. I wrote it backwards. I wrote it in rainbow markers. It was nice to write my own name, to make a name for myself again. After a while, I started writing stories about princesses and dragon riders and veterinarians who could speak to animals. In this tiny sheet of paper, I was able to reclaim my identity. It was in the world of writing that I found freedom.

            With my pen as the vehicle and my mind as the driver, we explored this vast expanse of freedom endlessly. I began to write about anything that happened to be on my mind; writing allowed me to express myself free of judgment or limitation. I was able to dream recklessly again because anything was possible in the worlds that I created on paper. As stacks upon stacks of paper began growing in my room and creating a paper city, my mind became clearer and my blank canvas began to expand again.

            Writing allowed me to become more independent and comfortable with myself. Whenever I would go back and read the stories I had written on paper, I was reminded of my big dreams. In turn, this motivated me to pursue my real-life goals passionately. The words I would write on paper began to translate into my life. I learned to pave my own paths and to follow them without abandon. This two-dimensional world of words breathed so much life into me and gave me escape from the jail cell that our three-dimensional world sometimes builds around us.

            With each new sharpening of the pencil, with each sharp flick of the wrist, I become true to myself. I have found my blank canvas again, the ever-expanding land of possibilities that we are all born with. And I have sown into it the dreams that occupy my deep sleep and wakeful consciousness. I am free again.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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            It probably started out in some ratty composition notebook that was passed around half a dozen people early in high school—pages of lists, gear and destinations, prices and plans. It moved on, made its way through several more notebooks, scrap paper, homework margins, and online documents. It, this plan, it evolved like this until it was whittled down to two girls, me and my best friend, with not that many plans at all—just our camping gear loaded into the back of our minivan and our fingers emphatically pointed only one way: West.

            This worked for awhile, this idea that our freedom existed somewhere in the space between a foot on the gas pedal and the coastline, but faded quickly once we reached the dimly lit, bug-infested hostel at the end of a sketchy San Franciscan alleyway. We were pretty much as far west as we could be from our homes in Allentown, PA. And I was scared. Unsure.

            The freedom was dizzying, and we didn’t know what to do with it. Thoughts crept into my mind. Where are we going to be tomorrow? For the next two or three weeks? Where are we going to sleep? We tried to recreate those lost plans we had years ago by drawing calendars in the pages of our notebooks while we splayed out on the brown matted carpet of our rented room, surrounded by park guides, road maps, and an ever-growing pile of orange rinds. What we ended up with after hours of deliberation was nearly unintelligible—some semblance of a schedule hidden beneath clusters of arrows used to rearrange our thoughts.

            That night I slept uneasily, worried that the people who doubted us were actually right. Maybe we couldn’t handle being out on our own, but for a whole host of different reasons than they had thought. They were afraid that the big, bad world would swallow up two girls, glowing and fresh out of high school. But no, there I was with the big, bad and beautiful world right in front of my face—I yearned to take it by storm— and yet it floated teasingly just beyond my grasp.

            But we continued on. Sometimes it seemed like I was trudging through what was supposed to be the best experience of my life.

            We visited countless cities and National Parks over the course of the month long journey, and I found that I was always the happiest when I was being trumped in size and strength. Admittedly, this was quite often. Zion National Park had a particularly tremendous effect on me.

            We were hiking The Narrows—a nine-mile weaving trek through a shallow stream at the base of a keyhole canyon—when I was hit with the realization. I took a moment to steady my bare feet on the slippery stones and glance around.

 Rocks worn down by water and wind surrounded me. The mountains I’d hiked were formed by conflict. Two great forces slamming together. The appeal of the landscapes came from the struggle between elements.

            Informed by this, my idea of freedom changed shape. My fear of it dissipated and turned into a respect for its vastness, its power over me, and the way it toyed with my expectations, desires, and anxieties. Freedom is not easy. Knowing what you want amidst all of your other emotions as well as your environment—these are hard thoughts to navigate.

 

I thought my freedom would hit me as soon as I hit the highway. I thought it would last as long as I could keep the wheels turning. But it wasn’t enough just to leave the place I’d lived all my life—I had to come back to it with what I’d experienced to finally make sense of it. And I had to make the decision to come back all on my own. I did, with both tears and joy.

About the Author: Ali Greenholt is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is studying English Writing, Gender Studies, and Africana Studies. She is a chair on the Univserity’s Outdoors Club. The next big trip she has planned is hiking the John Muir Trail.

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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“I suppose I should let the cat out of the bag, being that I leave in about 2 1/2 weeks…., I will be teaching English in Beijing, China for an entire year at a learning center. I will miss so many of you dearly, you really don’t actually know. I just started crying a bit just writing this. This past year has been one of growth and development as I climbed from the pits of clinical depression. It made me isolated and people thought I cut ties. I hope I can see as many of you before I go, so definitely let me know if you’re around New Orleans!”

That was the post I finally made public not too long ago, and it was flooded with warm wishes and sincerity. For such a long time I believed not a soul cared whether I was around or not. This became very isolating and I couldn’t help but stay inside day in and day out. I was living in one of the most exciting cities, filled with sunshine and beaches. That city was Los Angeles, but it wasn’t quite the City of Angels. Rather it came to be, for me at the time, a city of Devils disguising themselves in angelic and heavenly glows. I was alone. I had a few friends I could hang with but we were all so busy with work/school/artistic endeavors we hardly found the time. There was no family. Fast forward to this morning as I sip my coffee under the roof of my best friend since I was 5 years old’s house. We used to sit there blowing snot bubbles during kindergarten nap time and laughing uncontrollably for hours. I haven’t had more gratitude towards the people and things in my life since I lived in New Orleans so many years ago (my family evacuated a couple days before Hurricane Katrina and drove to the Boston area where we stayed with family).

I haven’t lived with my brother, two sisters and parents since 2010, a year before my high school graduation. Since then I’ve gone off to college for 4 years, worked countless jobs and traveled around Europe twice. The travels around Europe, however, was what strengthened bonds with people I hold dear to my heart. Whenever we had the chance to skype or talk on WhatsApp my heart was filled to the brim with joy.There were also times I didn’t even have two euro coins to scratch together. But I never let that impede my journey.

For such a long time I let my depression rule my thinking, preventing myself from having the tiniest ounces of happiness. The first time I headed off to Europe, sure, I admit it was a runaway/escape of sorts. I backpacked, worked odd-jobs, hitch hiked and train hopped across 7 different countries and learned to speak French fluently. For this I can’t help but feel grateful toward. My parents were in full support the entire time. And even though they could not support me financially, the emotional and spiritual support was incomparable to monetary need.My gratitude by far goes toward the support and love one receives when being truly open and honest to their dear friends and family.

About the Author: Xave Guidry has been known as a ramblin’, gamblin’, travelin’ man with a penchant for adventure, fueled by an unwavering wanderlust. He has studied Sociology and Occupational Science at the University of Southern California, where he reinvigorated his creative spirit. Since moving to Los Angeles and finally back to New Orleans, he has regained his love for playing music, writing poetry, and snapping the world around him with a film SLR camera. Xave will begin a new adventure to the Far East, as he sets out on a Chinese/Asian adventure for an entire calendar year.  

When the topic of a family vacation comes up or when friends want to celebrate with an excursion, many places come to mind.  Should they go rent out bungalows in the jungle of Costa Rica?  Maybe booking a private villa and ski trip to Colorado comes to mind or even visiting a few national parks on a road trip.  Another great idea is renting a luxury Maui vacation rental with friends.  This is exactly what my group of friends decided to do when my best friend had his wedding and decided to go to Maui.  It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I would recommend anyone contemplating a trip to Hawaii to take into consideration.

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A beautiful villa on the island of Maui

Where exactly is Maui?  Maui is one of the islands that make up the state of Hawaii.  It is just a short plane ride of less than an hour from Honolulu.   What exactly does Maui have to offer?  This wonderful island has it all.  Relaxing on a white-sand beach with a cool cocktail in hand, exploring the dense and lush, pristine jungles and swimming with sea life are all fantastic experiences that can be had on this island.

After deciding that Maui is the best island to visit, the first thing that usually comes up is where to stay.  While there, many tourists decide to stay in hotels.  While this is a good idea if traveling with only one other person, if you want to go with friends, more than likely the only option with a hotel is to book multiple rooms, which can become expensive and impersonal.  One option besides a lonely hotel room that is becoming popular is the option of renting out an entire villa.

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A private villa available for rent in Maui

Renting out an entire house or villa instead of multiple hotel rooms at a hotel is a fantastic idea because everybody can use the whole house at their convenience instead of staying in cramped hotel rooms.  Feel like swimming in your own private pool without the annoying strangers you’ve never seen?  Go for it.  Want to make plans to visit the beach with your friends?  No need to go door to door to get together, just meet up in the living room and make them there!

The joy of having your own personal villa in Maui is an experience that will never be forgotten.  When my best friend decided that he wanted to rent out a villa instead of multiple hotel rooms, I thought he was crazy.  After returning from our trip, I could not have asked for a better vacation.  I would highly recommend anyone planning a trip to Maui to take into consideration before booking anywhere else.

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I remember thinking it was crazy to be driving 1971 miles for a job I might not even want nor be offered. My husband and I had loaded up our Saturn station wagon and were driving cross country from New York to Utah for a six day job interview. We were applying to be Wilderness Therapy Instructors.

Prior to applying and being invited out for the interview, I had never heard of wilderness therapy. I found myself heading into the Utah desert to sleep under a tarp for six nights in sub-zero temperatures. Although I did not know it at the time, this decision lead me to discover what freedom meant to me.

I had never been to Utah. I had no degree in therapy. I had no experience being a guide. Six days went by of little sleep, confusion, some fun, frustration and cold. My sleeping bag definitely was not warm enough for the negative 10 degree F temperatures and I shivered away each night. In the end we were each offered the job and accepted. I worked as a wilderness therapy instructor for a year and half and it changed my life. The job led me down a path to freedom in two ways. On one hand it allowed me to achieve financial independence as both my husband and I were able to pay off all our school loan debt. But more importantly, I learned that freedom is a state of mind.

In wilderness therapy we worked with youth who were at some of their lowest points in life, often battling addictions and extreme behavioral probles. One of the books most of the students and staff read was Viktor Frankol’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Viktor was in the Nazi concentration camps and survived unimaginable horrors. Throughout his stay he never gave up hope and scribbled away writing what became the basis for logotheraphy and his book which went on to become one of the ten most influential books in the United States selling over 10 million copies and was translated into over 24 languages. Viktor concluded that, “…the meaning of life is found in every moment of living…that psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also the freedom of choice he always had even in severe suffering.”

As I have worked and traveled around the world, I have seen those who seem to have it all be miserable and those who appear to have nothing be happy. What I have taken from these observations and Victor’s book is that it doesn’t necessarily matter your circumstances, it matters your attitude and how you choose to view the world around you. Your mind can be your worst enemy and hold you captive or your mind can free you. One always has the choice to focus on the positive and put forth good work into the world.

When I reflect on my life and the direction I want to take it, I rarely include thoughts of all the bad things that have happened to me. I include them only enough to recognize the situations that enabled them to exist in the first place and make sure I do everything in my power not to let them happen again. In my travel life this has looked like arriving to New Zealand and realizing I had no idea where the hostel was that I booked. This was my first big move abroad and I will never forget walking in circles carrying all my bags in the rain trying to find someone who knew where ‘Epsom’ was. Or when Chris and I waited until the last minute to buy train tickets in Paris and almost missed our international flight. Or when we never booked any lodging in advance during European holidays thinking, ‘Hey, let’s wing it!’

For reasons still revealing themselves, I find myself with the privilege of many freedoms. On a daily basis I strive to take this opportunity and grow my natural strengths and talents. I hope to find ways to inspire others to discover what drives them, even if it takes them the rest of their life to do so. As Viktor said, “For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”

I will use my freedom to my best, always.

 

About Author: Tiffany Soukup is an adventurer, writer and photographer. In the spur of the moment she moved out to Wyoming to live on the floor next to a washer and dryer and has never looked back since. Her and her husband Chris have been moving around the world since 2004. You can follow their stories at www.vagabondway.net.

 

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

            It’s mid-afternoon and you’re exiting Woolsey Hall. Maybe you’ve just had a late lunch at Commons or maybe, like me, you’re coming out of a mandatory student safety lecture on your third day of college. You exit Woolsey the ugly way—away from the libraries and sculptures—and cross the street. Walk a block to your left and you’ll end up at the great entrance to the Grove Street Cemetery. You can’t miss it: the monolithic columns connected at a top by a slab bearing the epigraph “THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED.”

            Here I spent one peaceful hour when the living had gotten a little loud for my taste.  I basked in the vastness, the silence, the solitude. Or the near-solitude: at one point, when I had reached the back of the cemetery, I made eye contact with a woman in a bathrobe staring out the window of a nearby apartment building. But mostly there was only the dead and I.

            Perhaps I tend to romanticize. At the cemetery, I listened start-to-finish to my favorite baroque album. I looked around and imagined the cemetery’s residents were my nonjudgmental friends. But the dead are no better than us. I mean, towards the center of the cemetery were grandiose graves featuring spires and sculptures and even, in one particularly questionable case, sphinxes. At the cemetery’s periphery were mostly short and modest graves with sparse ornamentation. I wonder if the latter roll their empty eye sockets at the old money men entombed in great shrines? Even the dead have to deal with economic inequality.

I’m sure if you do the math it works out, but I can never quite believe that an hour is made of sixty minutes, nor that a day is made of twenty-four hours. Time is much too elusive for all that. After all, days when I have nothing to do stretch out far beyond my grasp and days when I have all too much to do are over as soon as they begin. And when I go home, months haven’t passed since I was last there: time just picks up where I left it. So, when I see people in britches and saddle shoes crossing the of Grove and Prospect Streets in front of the corner of the cemetery, rushing to get to class on time in spite of the blustering winds, the photograph[1] may be labeled as a Monday morning in January of 1922, but I promise you it was taken yesterday, just hours before I crossed the street myself. Only the car and street lamp parts of the picture were taken ninety-two years ago.

            Okay, you’re onto me. Maybe I am a little bit afraid of time, given my denial of its passage. And shouldn’t I be? Time carries all sorts of unpleasant things: deadlines, bills, so many trivial distresses. And those responsibilities will just keep coming, taking away from the things I love—reflection, beauty, and so forth—until we’re dead. So what is fear of time, then, but a repressive compartmentalizer’s fear of death?

Here’s another treacherous little thing time can do: Let’s say you’ve been having an overwhelming few days. Perhaps you’ve been urged into countless micromanaged social mixers and ushered from mandatory lecture to mandatory lecture. Perhaps, in those first three days of college, balancing all the activity with the already noisy expectations in your head is getting a bit much. And let’s say you finally get a moment to yourself. You find a quiet cemetery, stroll around, listen to your favorite album, and revel in feeling more mental clarity than you have in weeks. And let’s say this moment is so incredibly peaceful, perhaps because you are romanticizing again, that you feel it could go on forever. But then, amidst your reverie, a man on a bicycle passes by and says something that at first you can’t make out, but it sounds directive. You take your earbuds out. It’s closing time. Apparently the cemetery closes at four o’clock. You’re thrust, insufficiently resurfaced, back into your world. Being a girl, I’ve never had to contend with blue balls, but this must be the spiritual equivalent.

The moment had ended. I sought beauty in ephemerality, but could find none.

In the cemetery, I kept to the walkways for fear of disturbing my quiescent companions with the thunder of my footsteps. Yet, upon leaving I noticed the epigraph above the columns of the gate. I translated it to myself: No rest for the weary. And so, while we’re young—and, mind you, so long as I’m alive I will consider myself young by disjunctive syllogism—let’s appreciate the beauty right now.


[1] Sheffield Hall, Sterling Tower, and Strathcona Hall, Yale University, Photographs (RU 614).

            Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

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