Andrew Foster Altschul Recommends...

“Travel. Of any kind. Whether to a country you’d have a hard time finding on a map, or to the bead shop in your neighborhood you’ve never set foot in. Get out of your head—your head is good at convincing you that what is bouncing around inside is incredibly important. Usually it’s not. Travel to remind yourself that there are six billion people on the planet and most of them live lives you could not recognize, and the minutia and nuance of your own small concerns would be unrecognizable to them. Stand in an airport—outside of time, bound to no place—and let the crush of people, the flow of times and destinations on the board, carry you out of yourself. Remember how big the world is, and how full of trouble.”
Andrew Foster Altschul, author of Deus Ex Machina (Counterpoint, 2011)

Photo credit: Vauhini Vara


Yes! Travel out of your box!

As an Air Force brat I grew up on the move, mostly in Europe. High school, college, grad school in the US and you start to feel the gravity of where you are, physically and mentally. I lived in France for a year, and that was great, to get outside my American box. Then I went to Senegal twice, and addicted to this wonderful continent, I moved to Tanzania in 2007. I've lived in a variety of places and conditions, and had all kinds of interactions and scrapes, near misses, 30 hour bus rides to Kampala, even muled some merch to Hong Kong and was only able to spend 12 hours there, before almost not making it back home due to "on-going ticket" garbage.
Travel gets you outside of your zone, pushes you to face new things, to change your mind- even a walk down the street to buy chips mayai can get me onto something new. Our stories come from within, and when you travel you learn a lot about yourself and you feed that inner place. I reached my limit climbing Kilimanjaro, and I pushed through it somehow. Facing challenges, whether you succeed or not makes a huge difference than just sitting on your hinterlands. Travel down the street, even; go to the library and scare up some trouble with the librarian. He or she won't kill you, and you'll be stronger for it!!!!


dear andrew,

i struggle to write as often as i do some traveling in the Philippine's countryside. during those trips stories come in my head. i took note of them. i scribble everything i remember on my notebook. it was easy taking them down but hard to transform them into prose. i like fiction before that i struggled to use them in the stories i attempt to write and complete. i had difficulty. i turned to non-fiction. it was then that those trips i made, the reflections while sitting on the bus, riding on small boats became useful to me.