“Paths emerge by walking them.”
(Franz Kafka)

I started to travel remote places extensively as I turned 22 years, when I spent half a year in Australia, mostly in the Tasmanian wilderness. Intense times in the North American Rockies and the ranges of Central Asia followed soon after. This way of traveling has changed my life in a very profound way.

Once I met a shepherd in the Kyrgyz mountains who asked me: “Why are you doing this? Why are you walking for months through this mountains?” Back then I didn’t really know at first what to answer him. If you look deeper it is a actually a very complex question. Put very simply though, this evolved to be just one of the ways I want to live my life. It’s about getting up with the sunrise in the morning and to fall asleep as the last light-rays disappear behind a horizon of snow-capped peaks. Spending the day mostly with putting one foot in front of the other, for weeks, for months. Over and over. It creates a world that is focused on the very basics, confined to oneself, to ones’ human and animal companions, deprived of most modern civilized societies’ commodities. You in fact learn to be simple and flexible. In turn life becomes much easier in general. It’s also a training to gradually strip off unnecessary wants, which are more alien imposed forces from outside, rather than genuine intrinsic drives.

When I seriously picked up a camera for the first time in 2011 and got enchanted by photography, it deeply started to accompany my personal development. Taking pictures became like practicing being a human animal. I learned to be patient and wait, for hours, maybe for days. All senses sharpened and tuned into the world, observing the present in a high state of awareness. Waiting for the “right” circumstances to emerge, without expecting anything – since often enough, the conditions don’t fall together. For me, photography is a wonderful way to be in the moment, some sort of therapy to become more intuitive and deepen once feelings for the world rather than thinking about it.

I always was drawn to the mountains, most likely because I grew up in a very mountainous region in Austria. During the 6 years of university studies in Vienna I realized how important they are to me. It’s like having good friends around and somebody you can marvel at every time you take a look outside. Through this passion for mountains I got deeply interested into the ongoing glacial melt and climate change. As a trained physicist bringing also the scientific background, this growing global catastrophe has become a major ingredient to my perspectives, and I have a lot of passion to take my part in creating awareness for this disaster. Although – if you look at the numbers – our future appears to become rather uncomfortable, we should never stop trying to change. And in order to do so, we have to climb out of our old boxes. Thoughts – and therefore actions – are emergent properties and basically don’t change as long as they derive from the same frame of reference. Stepping out of this means shifting the context, to challenge hard-wired perspectives and comfort-zones to evolve.

Looking back, this is what traveling did to me – it pushed me to step out of boxes. I most definitely sit in a different one right now. But it feels as if it is a much larger and richer one than the tiny angle of view I found myself in before I started to roam the world.

 

“The real voyage of discovery
consists not in searching new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”

(Marcel Proust)