‘West of the Moon and East of the Sun’ is a phrase traditionally used in fairy-stories to refer to a place that’s nearly impossible to reach. My first encounter with the lines was through J.R.R. Tolkien and the final chapter of The Lord of the Rings when Frodo leaves Middle-Earth for mystical western land of Aman where the Elves go to live with the gods. I prefer the Elvish translation ‘amrun n’ Anor, annun n’Ithil’ and even had the first two lines engraved on my iPod once upon a time (yes, I am a hopeless Tolkien geek). In English the poem runs like this:
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
When I think about travelling this is the sentiment that stays with me the most. I don’t know why I was instilled with such an overwhelming urge to be everywhere and see everything. It’s an impossible task, just like finding the land West of the Moon and East of the Sun, but it doesn’t lessen any of the value one might gain from the search. As cliché as it is, there’s truth in the saying ‘it’s not about the destination, but the journey’, though I say both can be equally amazing.
I think my urge to wander comes partially from being born in Sweden and moving to the U.S. with my family when I was seven. It was impossible not to think how my life would look very different had we stayed there. Certainly I would have had more chances to explore the well connected European continent living there than in northern MN where my dad was from. After we moved to the states and my parents divorced we never went back to Sweden (I guess 15 hour flights were a bit much for a single mother with 4 children).
Naturally I craved for the chance to go back and I went on a summer backpacking trip through Europe with my friend Hannah and her sister Jennifer between our sophomore and junior year at USC. Then halfway through my senior year I impulsively bought a one way ticket to New Zealand to try and get a job on The Hobbit film (it was a long shot, but it is important to note that I was studying film production and I know how to write in Elvish calligraphy). I returned to Los Angeles after a year abroad and almost immediately convinced a, then, recent acquaintance to visit Brazil with me after I graduated. Why I thought another year long trip would be the fix I needed before buckling down is beyond my comprehension.
Travelling is like a drug. For those with the right inclination and a curiosity about the world, hitting the road is addictive. I’m constantly two to three trips ahead of myself because the wonders on this planet are so infinite. It took a while, but I started to realize that if I intend on making this a lifestyle I need to be more proactive about keeping track of my journeys. My latest return to Los Angeles was particularly stressful given I was finally having to face the post university graduation reality, now even more difficult because I had no relevant ‘work experience’.
I toughed it out for almost a year, before caving in and buying a ticket back to South America to see family, friends, and the World Cup. Where I go from there is still undecided, but this time I’m going to be documenting myself properly. Taking photos is never the problem, I’ve taken thousands while abroad, but compiling them into a presentable format along with appropriate words has been one of the tasks I’ve neglected. Videos have also been woefully lost along the way, particularly shameful considering I spent the better part of four years earning a degree in producing them. Hopefully those days of procrastination are now behind me.
West of Moon, East of Sun is my blog about my travel past, present, and future… photos, writing, video and whatever catches my fancy later on. Maybe the next trip lasts for the summer, maybe it lasts forever. Either way the memories will be here for me and for anyone else who wants to take a look.
P.S. You’ll probably notice that I am obsessed with Tolkien and Middle-Earth very soon if you haven’t already.
P.P.S. Furthermore, it is my opinion that I could destroy Stephen Colbert in Lord of the Rings trivia.