Newsletter Number Eighteen

Greetings from a rival platform, Travel Diary roundup

Hi all,


Long time no news. The best time to send this newsletter was two months ago, though I suppose the second best time is now, as they say. Summer is here, the roads have re-opened, they’re letting people into the sea and up hills again, and I suppose I’ve been making the most of it. Which means less time for writing, and even less time for writing newsletters; after they really just serve as supporting documents and vehicles for linking to the real articles which are the purpose of this page (hence why I’ve just been sending the last few pieces direct to your inboxes - it might be better that way.

Though it’s good to catch-up with where we are too.

The time I have had for writing I’ve actually been cheating on you, subscribers to and readers of this page – as I’ve been doing most of my writing on Instagram. Some purists of written forms might scoff and dismiss it as a less serious, more throwaway platform – and that’s exactly why I like it. Form affects voice, tone and even content of a piece of writing e.g. often a short story or essay carries more pound for pound emotional stopping power than a lengthier novel.

There’s also the photographic aspect to it which I’m enjoying, and I suppose one of the more obvious functions is that it’s fulfilling the “What I’m up to” function of a blog/newsletter/social media page – rather than the creative writing vehicle I’ve sneakily turned this page into.

(Do follow me on Instagram by the way)

Unfortunately for you all this means that much of my creative energy is being used up over there, always with the intention of turning those posts into fuller articles here, though it hasn’t always happend.

As I said, summer is upon is and thus writing has been slower than it had been. I’m not a complete nerd, after all, and along with writing newsletters I also enjoy fresh air, physical activity and socialising, and have felt the inevitable urge to travel as much as possible around Ireland in recent weeks and months.

See the latest articles below if you haven’t already read them, or are new here.

Latest articles (click links in titles to go to articles):

The Fog of War

“When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world” – John O’Donoghue. The most profound philosophical truths can be read both ways, and so when you come to know something of the world, you come closer to yourself and to knowing something new. In this essay I elaborate on how travel and discovery of the world around you uncovers things within you.

Travel Diaries #19 – JSL (Learning Japanese as a Second Language)

If you’ve been to a foreign country (or sometimes even county) you’ll know what it’s like to try to converse in a language that isn’t yours. It can be heartbreaking or it can be utterly joyful.

Something I maybe hadn’t given as much thought to as I should have before going on an extended trip to Japan (and considering moving there for a year or so) was the fact that I don’t speak Japanese. I figured I’d learn as much as I needed to when I needed to (you could get by in a country like Vietnam just fine without any of the local language, and many do, though it doesn’t always sit right, does it?).

Learning and practicing a new language as you go through the country is often a lot of tun, though it turned out that being there for longer than a couple of weeks without more than a couple of pleasantries was more taxing than I had anticipated.

Travel Diaries #20 – One Big Long Meditation Retreat

So taxing, in fact, that before I’d even considered joining a silent meditation retreat in Chiba, south-east of Tokyo, I was already experiencing the effects of functional silence. A couple of lonely weeks after having spent so much time facing the long hard look in the metaphorical mirror and I had the experience that was more like chronic absence than blissful presence.

If it’s possible to meditate too much, or at least to do so at the wrong time of your life, for example while caught in a spiritual limbo between one home across the world and your return to your real home, then that’s what I seem to have achieved here.

Travel Diaries #21 - NPC

The culmination of my Japanese trip: what happened when I followed through on my child- and adult-hood dreams of endless and boundless travel, assumed to be all my own but probably equally the result of a generation of social media flaunting, marketing psy-ops and cultural entitlement. Everyone’s dream now is to go everywhere, to meet everyone, to do everything. Experiences are the new collectables of the rich and wannabe rich.  

Is it possible to collect too many experiences? To spread yourself too thin, to try to be too many places at once?

And is it possible to go too far away from home, to look too hard in the mirror, to go too far off the edge of the map, and to be too free?

Find out here.

Happy reading.

Chat soon,


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