Extended answers from Wired Interview
How do I preface this? Hmmm, well I did a phone interview with Wired magazine, and then they followed up with some more questions, which I answered via email. I’m sure that 90% will be cut, but a friend asked me to share the full answers here! So, here they are…
Each question was related to the photo above it:
“When you’re relaxed and your guard is down, beautiful moments spring upon you.”
We’ve got the story of the Ritz-Carlton concierge who insightfully referred you to the spa, which worked great in the last text. For this, can you tell me a bit — just one paragraph is fine — about the specific incident of being relaxed, your guard down, and a beautiful moment you can recall springs on you, as it relates to the photo?
I have a feeling that everyone feels a bit awkward in a bathing suit. I mean, unless you’re one of those Instagram hoochie girls, which 99.9% of us are not. Anyway, once you decide to rock around a Turkish bath with whatever body you happen to inhabit, then an acceptance sets in, and you just kinda let it all hang out, then you are quite vulnerable. But vulnerability is a great chance to really absorb the moment and it forces your guard to be down. Letting go of worry creates a presence. This presence allows you to be alert and see things you might not have seen before, when the mind was clouded by a fiction it created for itself.
“If you open yourself up to the universe, cool stuff happens.”
“Comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Can you expand on how those attitudes specifically played out for you in Wolfsburg?
Rolling along the train tracks into Wolfsburg, I had no idea what I would find. No matter how old you get, there are always firsts. The notion of “first” indicates a unique experience; there is no way to have an expectation of what will happen. This then leads to the idea that you should have no expectations at all. It doesn’t mean low expectations, but, theoretically, one should have no expectations of what will be a unique experience.
Once you make this intellectual decision to have no expectations, you embrace the universe itself and whatever comes at you. It’s not just that you have no expectations of what will happen with the universe, but you have no expectations about how you will react to it. Together, by releasing expectations of yourself and the universe, you may come to see these two seemingly discrete things as the same. This makes me feel very connected to any place I happen to be, and if you happen to be in a place, it might as well be around Wolfsburg taking photos of the auto mecca, because it’s pretty freaking awesome.
“I used to worry that because I travel so much, I would run out of places to go. But the more I travel, the more I discover.”
We had a section about London, but The Ritz-Carlton asked that we stick to cities where they operate a hotel. For one of the others (my personal pick is Moscow, because the photo itself is surprising when one reads that it’s Moscow, but whatever feels best for you) is it possible that you had been there before, leading to new feelings there compared to a previous visit? The idea that traveling somewhere more than once leads to very different experiences is powerful.
I think we all know how imperfect memory is. Even though I am now kind of a travel photographer, my degree is in Computer Science and Math. Our memory doesn’t work like a computer, and it is wonderfully imperfect. There are theories that we “chunk” the big bullet points of memory so that we can use those bits to simulate future scenarios.
So, when I got into Moscow for the first time, it was fun to “predict” what might happen. Whatever happens, happens, right? Well, it’s still fun to simulate a few possible futures. I was able to pull chunks from my first time to “strange” places (strange, meaning foreign/scary/challenging to me at various stages of my life). I thought about my the time I made my first trip to go to the subway in Tokyo, the time when I got stranded on Antarctica during a blizzard, the time I was arrested in Beijing for flying a drone over the Forbidden City, etc. These are all unusual things that happened to me, and everything turned out just fine.
Now, arriving in Moscow, I thought about all these edge-cases, and I simulated a hundred nutty things that might happen. After all, most of what I knew about Russia came from Reddit, so I was open to literally anything happening. And I wasn’t disappointed. Moscow itself is an amazing place, but what makes Russia so interesting to me is the people there, and the interesting Russian minds inside of them.
Project Loon in Puerto Rico
Here’s an interesting article about how Google is using its balloons to restore communications across the island. Pretty cool eh? I spent a few days with them here in New Zealand when they began testing the balloons… really cool tech!
Daily Photo – Beautiful Puerto Rico and San Juan
It’s hard to believe I got this photo not too long before that bad hurricane hit. The whole island is so naturally beautiful that I’m sure it’ll bounce back pretty fast… I guess the first step is to get their infrastructure back together… they are all so industrious down there that I bet it will be back faster than anyone thinks.