In good conscience, or at least my conscience, travel is not about personal consumption. The rewards of travel do not come from acquiring nick-knacks, t-shirts, and photos nor from eating at the hottest restaurants or tasting the worlds many wines. Drinking while on vacation is a north-American pastime that I admit I have succumbed to, but it is not what brings deep peace or lasting rejuvenation. The purpose of my travels is to educate and inspire myself and others. My goal in travelling is to absorb the unique cultural knowledge of the people I encounter and the nations I live in, to compile their wisdoms in the reservoir of my spirit so that I can bring them home with me and draw from their teachings to enrich my future life and family and community. I can't bring the trappings of my home nation with me in exchange, but I can bring for the sharing the unique perspectives I've developed from being raised in the security of a first world country. I spent a great deal of time thinking on what gift it was that I had to offer, not being the wealthiest example of my nation, nor the cleverest, nor the most educated. What I discovered that I had to offer, though I had nothing material of my own, was my knowledge of the power of creative exploration, the gift of personal expression. It is really not my gift to give, as it resides in each and every person. But it is a skill and a right that I can help to reveal in people. It is a gift that asks for no exchange of monetary units, and requires no specific set of tools or resources to maintain. I believe it to be the most empowering and liberating ability we possess.
Allow me to elucidate for a paragraph or two. Even without having experienced the many climates, political landscapes and cultural colors of the world, my fortunate education taught me that life, no matter where you are in the world, or what your circumstances, is never 100% certain, that the next day's meal or shelter may not always be a given. These are realities and challenges faced in all nations, from the wealthiest to the most impoverished. The wisdom that I feel I have the advantage of possessing from my upbringing in Canada is the truth that security lies in the human capacity to adapt and subsist self-sufficiently, to work as a team within one's community, and to live respectfully with the environment. It occurred to me somewhere during the course of my comfortable upbringing that it is fundamentally important for all individuals to be physically, mentally & creatively empowered in order to for them to make sustainable, healthy decisions for their families and communities. I believe that personal expression, a common denominator amongst first world countries, and right we frequently take for granted, is imperative for the development of self-sufficiency and the ability to act responsibly. In art specifically I see a platform for spontaneous thinking, adaptive creativity, and outside-the-box problem solving. Each step that a person takes down the path of creative expression is an opportunity to re-envision oneself and one's abilities, to re-assess one's strength and resourcefulness. When a person is thus empowered with the knowledge of their own capacity for creative manifestation, they no longer fear expressing, and this opens the door to art as mode of healthy living.
So I determined in my travels to commit myself not so much to frolicking and touring, but to witnessing and revealing the empowering nature of personal expression through creative process, to teach arts and crafts because I consider them to be foundational modes of empowerment and healthful communication which are accessible to all people, regardless of circumstance or location. Through the humble acts of sewing, painting, sculpting and so on, it became my intention to reveal to the hosts and students I would encounter the liberating and healing powers of personal expression. It has become my fond hope and sincere desire to encourage each one of my students to experience the joy of crafting, and thereafter apply that creative ability and vision not only to material objects, but to the forms of their own lives, goals and dreams. That is the gift I have been inspired to give, that is the purpose I have traveled nearly 4,800km to share.
Renegade Ocean Sports Instructor, Vagabond Art Teacher, Roving Writer: Jessica Lea Salo
"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."
"Having a healthy respect for the sea did not mean she owed me a moments grace."
"It is good to be alive."