On a Train

Hargett March

Traveling is great. It opens our eyes. We experience new customs, accents, faces, colors, types of light, smells, foods, and unique textures. When we return home, we see our home in a new way.

When I was a student, I loved traveling, so I figured out how to travel while I was studying (and get loans or scholarships to help with the funding). I studied at Lacoste School of the Arts in Provence, France (now SCAD) and SACI in Florence, Italy. Both places were exceptionally beautiful, and I was privileged to have inspiring teachers. I took photography, painting, stone carving, poetry, art restoration, life drawing, and more painting. France was a great place to take photos. There were cobblestone streets, gnarled trees, shaded pathways. Everywhere I looked was an opportunity, but the feeling of being in another country was something more elusive and difficult to capture. Noticing that I had relied upon eavesdropping as a form of entertainment without ever realizing it was a surprise. Suddenly there was only a patchy guesswork of what a conversation might be about. I was pretty sure the man selling me watermelon was saying that he loved watermelon too, but I wasn’t entirely certain.

I remember coming back from Venice on the train. I was on my own, as my traveling partner had gone ahead. I was observing the hand gestures of the people talking, thinking, “Yes, I know what they are talking about.” I thought they were talking about a shopping trip… or maybe a friend they had visited. Then, I found myself included in the conversation and realized they were talking about the Vince Biennale, which I had missed seeing that very day. At the time I didn’t realize how absurd it was to go to Italy and study art and then miss the Venice Biennale. I was grateful to learn about the Venice Biennale, and look at the catalog, but more than anything I was grateful for that momentary connection on that train ride.

Traveling leaves us with a special sensation. Our minds have been opened, and somewhere in us there is a longing for common ground. We look for faces we recognize, but we don’t find them until we are home again, or make friends on the road.

We are all looking for some form of connection. In the process of creation, we confront the longing for connection, and sometimes, if we are lucky, make peace with ourselves.

Where have you traveled?

How do you think traveling has inspired or changed you?

What has traveling taught you about yourself?

Is there somewhere you are longing to go? What would you do when you get there?




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