Since I was very young, I’ve had a strong impulse to go into nature. Not just the nature you find in your backyard, or on the roadside, or even in the fields and hills and forests of the countryside near towns, but deep, dark, immense wilderness. Somehow, amongst all that space I feel most at home. I breathe the air scented by pine needles, unmoved by wind, with silence all around, and I say, “I am home.”
Nearly every summer for the past decade and a half, I have traveled west from Nebraska. These trips started because of that initial feeling—my impulse to return to nature. The documentation of the trips began as a natural continuation of the process: I enjoy photography and writing, I see beautiful things, I capture them in words and photos.
From these trips over the years I have learned a thing or two about traveling—I think travel should be uninhibited, unconstrained. While on the road, I intentionally push myself away from habits and strict schedules. I see something with my eyes, and I go to it with my feet. I wander around. I see what happens. I find that when things are less tightly controlled, there is nowhere that I have to be but here, no time to be anywhere else but now, and things become more enjoyable, less stressful.
While traveling, I also learn a lot about myself. All the bad habits and views that hang out on the periphery of my busy-scheduled mind appear right in front of me, and I can’t dismiss them anymore. Last summer, I drove from Nebraska to Oregon alone. During that drive, I worried about everything. I constantly feared the car would break down. I wondered where I would sleep that night. I was worried about this and that, to the point of rushing by, without seeing, the scenery I was on a trip to see. Almost a year later I am still feeling the repercussions of that trip—of how I realized that I am a worrisome person, and how I have slowly begun to change that.
Over the years, because of this desire to document the trips I’ve taken, I have amassed many photos and bits of writing. However, the writing was incomplete, and the photos represented only a half-formed aesthetic, seen by only a few people. This year, I wanted to do something different: to relate to others how amazing travel can be, both as an experience, and as a vehicle for inner change. I want to relate a living, vital example of this very process, of change through travel. Because of that, I decided to create the book Eyes Out West, which I'm currently raising funds through Kickstarter to publish.
It is possible that travel can take you deeper into yourself, deeper into your life, while at the same time taking you away from that same day-to-day life. This is the kind of thinking I want to inspire in people through this book, through my writing and photography. I want them to have courage, and take the risk of casting off the safety of scheduled life, to go out and do something totally amazing.
Thanks for reading, and see you on the road.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress. If you're interested in seeing more of Hudson's work, think about supporting his Kickstarter campaign here.
Illustration by Corinna Loo