Travelling Light

First up: Do not panic! You have come to the right place. You have arrived at the blog known formerly as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ It now goes under a new name, ‘Travelling Light,’ but it is the same, I assure you. Same web address, same blogger and photographer, same as ever.

So why, you might ask, the change of name, and the new slug-line? Why – you noticed this, didn’t you? – the new look or livery?

Those who have drunk the life-is-marketing Kool-Aid might be tempted, I guess, to see this as a ploy: ‘you are your own brand,’ and all that rubbish. Change the branding, change the persona.

But no, dear reader – I may be shallow, but I am not that shallow.

The reason, if I must supply one, goes deeper.

Mind you, part of it is simply the desire for a refresh, after a couple of years’ wandering the worldwide web in the same old clothes, so to speak. But the deeper bit, the more interesting bit, at least to me, has something to do with a shift in outlook.

For one thing, I’ve grown a bit tired of that pretend middle-aged curmudgeon, the alter-me who says cheerily, but with a rasp in his voice, and a flinty eye, and a tumbler of whisky clenched tight in his fist, ‘keep calm and carry on’ – as if the stage of life he has entered is The Battle of Britain, Their Finest Hour, and all that guff. He sounds like an old colonial colonel, that guy – he sounds like a cranky old white South African.

Which he is, which he is – but that is not all of him, nor who he wants to be. What he wants to be is someone who steps lightly on the planet, someone who has left behind the most burdensome of his baggage, who would like simply to be human.

All that ‘keep calm and carry on,’ of course, was supposed to be ironic – a stab at humour. But the irony was also a coded confession – of funk, I suspect. But as the years have moved on, so my mood has changed, and my temper. Rather than cling to the railing, I look forward to the journey.

One of the things that happens, I find, as I head past the middle sixties, with a nod and a wave, is that you start to shed stuff. The shops are no longer full of things you want and you need, they are full of things you don’t want and don’t need. The job is no longer a ladder to be climbed, a money-tree to be shaken, a substitute life for the life you wanted but have given up on having, it is the way you contribute. And your contribution is judicious, as you are conscious, always, that life is not be lived, or experienced, much less to be measured, by the hours you spend in meetings or airplanes or at a desk in an office.

So ‘Travelling Lightly’ is about losing the baggage, shedding the unnecessary. It is also, in this dangerous era of climate change denial and global warming, about treading lightly, as I have said, on this vulnerable planet – the only one we have, as if we need reminding (some of us do, apparently).

It is also about the light, itself – the light we see the world with, the light that photographers depend on, the light that illumines whatever it is that writers see in the human and material drama around us.

And perhaps, in a moment of rhetorical over-reach but also humility, it is about purification or cleansing: the flaking away of the husk, the biblical threshing, that reduces us to our essence until we are ready, finally, to step into the brightness.

Please Carry on Reading.



4 responses to “Travelling Light”

  1. Welcome to the “adult” world view. The next phase, is one to which I am still having some difficulty adapting. As it is now a few years since stepping away from a full time professional life, I am finding that my ties to my former role are self-severing, as colleagues retire and pass.

    Fortunately, my father warned me of this. Thus, I am steadily re-directing my time, energy, and interests to new efforts.

    Please keep us informed as you travel lightly forward.


    1. Nice to be welcomed to the ‘adult’ world! Though I still work, as you know, on the EU-funded capacity building project in South Africa, people I know are retiring around me, moving on, or ‘passing,’ as you say. It is an interesting, sometimes saddening transition, but also life affirming, in the sense that Rob and I say, ‘we’ve got to live while we’re alive.’ Which we aim to do, and are doing, and which this blog will report on.


    1. Praise indeed. Thank you 🙂


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