Friday, November 8, 2013

Point B

 The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and I will contend that a straight line is boring, and that point B should be worth it. This statement is ages old, and is true for both mathematics - and squirrels crossing streets.  

Point A could be anywhere on earth. It could be your 1940’s aluminum-clad home in the north end of Boise, the one with alfalfa-length lawn, a bad sprinkler head, and a gravel driveway longing to be a sweep of white cement. Sure it has a great view of an old weeping willow, an incessant street parade of cruiser riding hipsters, and a suspiciously frequent flow of Fed Ex deliveries next door, but it’s your very own point A – your ‘basecamp’.

Starting points can also be temporary; mountain trailheads, terminal desert roads, Piggly Wiggly parking lots, your current career, your freshly fractured leg, that time when you were lost in the Macy’s at the mall and needed a bathroom more than anything in the world - everything we do that has an endpoint requires a start, no matter how small.



Point B’s, of course, are actually just goals – be they large or small – and can only be achieved through some form of trial. I am unsure as to whether the Macy’s epic would qualify as a worthy and difficult goal – but at that time there was nothing more important in my life that finding the men’s bathroom, hidden within the cinematic glass and mirror labyrinth of Guess, Dior, and Prada advertising.

I believe that our entire lives are made up of small and frequent quests, where point A and point B are actually quite trivial within our busy lives, and yet, cumulatively, they form our story and the way we grow.


Seldom is the path to B just a straight line. In fact, the path is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of the objective. It is this journey that will produce the tale, give you courage, and, depending on the gymnastic nature of the route, create a destination even more worthwhile. Furthermore, motivation for the path will often be based on the value of the prize. Take for example a soccer match, which can sometimes end with a single goal - where entire countries loose their minds with happiness; the kind of happiness that triggers gleeful fans to overturn parked cars and cheerfully beat each other to a pulp.


When people see my photographs they say, “Oh wow, I wish I could travel like you do”, and I always say the same thing, “Then just go.” I do not possess the income of a classical world travel; in fact, I possess the modest income of an emergency room nurse. What I do have (besides an amazing wife), that most people don’t understand, is the ability to mentally draw a line between two points – and just go. Once the tickets are purchased, the tank is filled, or the pack is strapped on – it’s just a matter of getting there. All other material requirements are weighed against what will be taken to the grave – and memories always win.

Recently, my wife Jill and I traveled to Komodo Island, a small deserty point of land sticking out of the south Pacific ocean and filled with gigantic ox-eating lizards. Our goal was to live on a rough-built wooden schooner for a week, dive in the sapphire blue waters of the coral triangle, and take tons of pictures of the Indonesian environment. However, this particular point B was a long way from home. So much so that to contemplate the journey as a single move was too much for my aging brain, and so it was mentally broken into stages; point A to Singapore, Singapore to Bali, Bali to Flores Island, and finally onto a wooden ship – point B. Of course, having all of our luggage travel to Hong Kong for a few days was not anywhere on the itinerary, but was simply part of the journey. Between being sealed within a Boeing 747 (what I like to refer to as the ‘container of pestilence’) trapped near the ‘sniffing man’ for 15 hours, the bookshop punk that used his credit card skimmer to copy our VISA information (which allowed him and three close friends access to a wonderful brothel of sultry Bali women), becoming snared in the web of a giant golden orb spider, and the dripping heat of a tropical furnace – we had a superb adventure, and brought back some respectable images.

Goals are what drive our feeble species – whether it is total world domination or just getting up early enough to catch the sunrise. Some objectives are all consuming and occur at the same rate that grass grows, like Erden Eruc’s circumnavigation of the earth by rowboat and bicycle in 1,026 days, or the 1969 era 2 ½ hour hike in virgin dirt that cost 350 million dollars – and was on the moon! More often, however, accomplishments are frequent, of short duration, and often times occur without much planning at all. When the sneaker wave rolled up the beach and engulfed your Blackberry with swirling saltwater, your point B was just to quickly deliver the phone to an elevation of three feet above sea level. Granted, the planning here was quick, and more along the lines of a neuromuscular driven reflex arc, but the idea is the same. Imagine it, plan it, and just do it.

I know, the motto of Nike is about as true and concise as it can get. But, since it is linked so directly to the Nike Corporation, I will never utter the trifecta of immoral corporate irresponsibility here again. Apologies, I digress…


Travel and photography go together like baby monkeys and the word, “Awww.” And I would contend that, other that pornography and baby pictures, destination images are often times why people buy cameras, airline and train tickets, postcards, coffee table books, screen savers, mouse pads, and pictures for their walls – these images are what fill most all of our photo books and our memories. Chances are that if you try to recall a trip you took with your family as a small child, say to Disneyland or the Sawtooth Mountains, your brain will instantly conjure up images from that trip – you will first recall the glossy paper snapshots that were taken on a Polaroid or a Kodak Instamatic with a ‘flash cube’, snapshots from your mom’s vacation album, snapshots that have all but replaced the actual faded memories.

Capturing these snapshots, paired with any destination – a point B – can produce some of the most wonderful, vivid memories that we will ever have, and quite possibly an array of beautiful photographs that are both engaging to view and very personal. Planning and implementing such a journey is an exhilarating endeavor, and to do it with your best friend, your best camera, and with a hint of unknown, well – that’s as good as it can get. All we need to do - is just go.

Jill and the Sawtooths

Rob Hart