The Road and the Tree: Introduction

We live in the age of information, a time in humanity where we have the most communication of any generation of humans in the history of the world. In each of our pockets there lies a device with the computing power 100,000 times that of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. There is nowhere on the planet to which communication is impossible, and the ability to see and hear someone on the opposite side of the world, to tell stories in real time, to talk with them as if they are in the same room as us, is no longer a dream but rather something we have the opportunity to engage with on a daily basis. Planet earth, with all of its different and equally interesting cultures, is now the habitat for a global culture, available for all that seek it out.

It is my personal perspective that this global citizenship comes with a unique citizenship test. Of course, this test isn’t a standardized one in which you fill out lettered bubbles in a sterile exam room with a proctor breathing down your neck. Rather, global citizenship comes with the willingness to understand that the world, as small as it might feel sometimes, is full of vastly complicated and different people. It is to recognize that no two people are the same, and that the idea of a culture revolves around the individuals that keep it alive. It is to intrude respectfully into different ways of life, so as to benefit from its heritage. It is to learn, constantly, about the reason that people do what they do, how they do it. It is to use the beautiful, creative, and brilliant things that one culture develops to heighten the human experience in another.

It is for this reason that I’ve chosen to travel from my roots in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, halfway across the planet to Paris, France. In my view, Paris is the epicenter of culture in the western world. Practically every great novelist, poet, artist, or singer has spent some time in Paris, refining their work and defining what it is to be human. Take your favorite artist, and the odds are in favor that they’ve been to Paris. It seems that to become great at anything with higher meaning requires at least a small stint in France.

I don’t know what is in Paris that has this effect on people. Maybe the Eiffel Tower sends radio waves to our brain that enhances our ability. Maybe the spirits from the catacombs intensify the things we feel so as to make them easier to depict. Or maybe Parisian coffee has traces of drugs that amplify our creativity as individuals. Whatever the reason, I’m hoping that my experience going to Paris will help me build my toolbox for becoming a global citizen on planet earth.

The name of this blog is chosen intentionally for this journey I am embarking on. The road and the tree are symbols found in my personal favorite book, William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” (In case you were wondering, yes, Faulkner spent his own time in France) In the book, a character named Anse holds resentment for the road in front of his own house, because of its habit of making things move by while he fully intends to stay put where he is.

“When he [God] aims for something to be always a-moving, he makes it long ways, like a road or a horse or a wagon, but when he aims for something to stay put, he makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man.”

It’s an understatement to say I don’t like Anse all that much, and if you read the book you probably won’t like him all that much either. These symbols, however, are important for me and my perspective on life. My travel to different countries, my love of the road, is not in the nature of my comfortable, rooted nature as an upright human. It’s possible my love for the road is a rejection of the human-like quality of wanting to stay in one place. It’s also possible, I believe, that the soil in which I plant my roots has not yet been found, and I travel the road in hopes of finding it. Whatever the reason for my urge to travel, I have every intention of acting on it at every turn in the coming years.

My plan for this blog is to document this travel on the road, to hopefully find the soil where I belong. I plan to document my journey through the American University of Paris as a student, learning the concrete knowledge it takes to be a global citizen. I will be recording the less concrete things I take with me from my time there. I will also be showing off the cool things I experience, wherever the road may take me. No blog about Paris is complete without photos and stories of all the cool places in Paris, so don’t think for a second this is any different.

And so with this blog I ask you to join me on the road. Follow along on my journey of the road. Stay with me as I see the cool buildings and monuments that Europe has to offer, and the introspection that Paris will hopefully bring me. Experience the road with me, and I promise it will end with a heightened sense of the global community that we all find ourselves a part of at some point.

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