“There’s a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin, Texas.” Willie Nelson, the erstwhile musician, author, poet, activist (and a whole lot of other things) said this about Austin one night. I came across this quote for the first time when I was trying to figure out what to do in Austin. I wanted to see this new place, but I also wanted it to remind me of home. I wanted a definitive answer to an age-old question. “How do you make a home out of a foreign land?”
I started understanding Willie’s answer a little bit when I came across this mural.
On your strolls in Austin, you will come across a lot of graffiti. Like the ones in HOPE outdoor gallery, these intensely interesting art pieces are an intrinsic part of Austin. Strewn all over the cityscape, these murals are a testament to the city’s undying love for being an original soul and to uphold its motto: Keep Austin Strange.
My love for graffiti stems out of my love for comic books and graphic novels. Speech Balloons were my preferred mode of communication with the outside world. As I grew older, I understood how these books are not only a storytelling medium but also a dynamic art form where ideas are born and free thinking is encouraged.
Home is where you learnt to ride your bike. Home is where you first sighted the love of your life. Home is where you learn to learn and grow. Home is that place that eventually brings you peace. Home does not just have to be the four walls you were born in. Home can be a place which you have never seen before but where your heart believes it will feel restored. I saw these fishes on the sidewalks of New Orleans too.
We live in a world which suffers from thousands of separatist movements. The world is where people are judged and discriminated on the basis of their appearance, beliefs, and orientations. Walking through Austin, looking at the diversity of expressions painted on the walls I realized one thing: You won’t be able to call a place home if you cannot be yourself, in all your awesome glory, there.
We travel because we crave diversity. Because we desire a heady cocktail of new experiences. The world is full of new songs that we have not sung before. Food we have not tasted before and stars we have not slept under. What makes it better? All the people in the world that we will share their stories with.
The murals tell us stories. There was a person. They had a voice to raise, to start an urgent dialogue. And they took up a paintbrush and painted what their heart had to say. Standing opposite the wall, I was the audience. As I tried to interpret, I became my own storyteller. What is home if you don’t have stories to tell about it? What is home if you return to it without stories to tell?
Sometimes, stories have changed the world. Sometimes, they have altered the course of history. Every story has an idea in its heart. If we try hard to listen to these stories, they will speak to us. Stories and ideas can sow seeds of change in us and we change the world as the world changes us. Sometimes we learn how to change an unfamiliar place to a home.
Travelling is all about going with the flow. Walking along the mural-adorned walls of Austin, I felt an urgent need to embrace the changes coming our way instead of getting intimidated by them. Learning to let go and learning to accept newer perspectives, newer understanding is crucial, in life and in search of a home.
Often the road will lead you to a safe place. The road will award you people, experiences, monuments or just a feeling that will let you know that all of this makes sense. Those are the simple things that a person in search of meaning looks out for. Embrace it, and you have found it, a corner that is undeniably your own in a very foreign land.
And sometimes, when you are lucky, you come to the realization that you have come across this moment in time; a moment poignant enough to leave a permanent imprint of warmth and happiness across your soul. This is where home is. Until the road calls us back out again.
I joined Tipster’s East Side Art Walk lead by Natalie. Natalie who is an artist herself showed us through the colourful streets and introduced us to various forms of graffiti and street art. While in the area, don’t forget to stop by Prohibition Creamery for delicious boozy ice creams!
All murals and graffiti showcased here are the creative outcomes of the ideas and visions of respective artists. All the credit for these beautiful artwork goes out to them.
Tell us about your favourite corners of the world in the comments below!!