Leading up to my trip, I thought a lot about what it would be like to travel alone, and I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to set reasonable expectations. I recognized the possibility of becoming lonely, of missing home, of becoming depressed. But I also wanted to get myself psyched up about launching into an adventure!
Those of you who know me remember that I LOVE PIXAR movies. In fact, one of the main reasons I studied Film Studies at UNC Wilmington was because I wanted to get experience doing digital animation and storytelling and maybe work there someday. I also really enjoy analyzing films and narrative. So before my trip, on a quiet evening by myself, I popped in PIXAR’s Up to get pumped about my adventure.
If you are unfamiliar with Up, it’s the story of Carl Fredricksen, a crotchety old widower unwilling to part from the house in which he shared his life with his deceased wife, who embarks on an adventure to fly his house, levitated by 1 million helium balloons, to Paradise Falls in South America. His plan is blown off course by an unexpected storm and a well-meaning, but annoying Wilderness Explorer named Russell, who accidentally gets swept up with the house. I won’t explain the whole plot here, just watch the film.
Life’s real adventures are made not in the epic experience of the Paradise Falls we long to perch our house upon, but in the relationships we enjoy all the time.
The theme of Up is that life’s real adventures are made not in the epic experience of the Paradise Falls we long to perch our house upon, but in the relationships we enjoy all the time. Carl and his wife, Ellie, had always wanted to go to paradise falls. But when he finally gets there, it is not all that he hoped it would be, and his house is only half of what it used to be.
Charles Muntz, famous adventurer and Carl’s hero, banished himself to the Falls trying to prove the existence of the Kevin bird and clear his name. He let his pride drive him to isolation, with only his dogs as friends. He had gone so far down his own path of jealousy and pride that he even became a murderer, killing the only other humans he came into contact with. See Charles Muntz made adventure all about himself, his desires, his trophies, his reputation, and he missed out on his life.
By contrast, Carl never went to Paradise Falls with Ellie, but he had lived a full, meaningful life full of adventure with his best friend. And even when he finally got there, though reluctant at first, he learned that life and adventure are not all about perching your house atop a beautiful waterfall in South America. See the temptation when you’re living the mundane moments of your life, picking out ties, fixing the car, and enjoying simple picnics in your small town, is to believe that your life is boring and not adventurous. But maybe the best adventures in life are actually dreaming about adventures with your best friend, or eating ice cream on a curb counting blue and red cars with your dad.
Reflecting on this, I decided that I didn’t want to go on my adventures in Europe like Carl Muntz, hiding behind my camera lens and my cell phone apps. I’m using my phone and posting to Instagram, obviously, but I wanted to be making friends every day. So one of my goals on this adventure is to meet someone new every day, have a conversation, get their perspective and story, and share my adventures with them.