Photos From The Other Side of The World


Photos From The Other Side of The World

This here is a photo drop from my latest trip, a recount of the lead up to that trip, and an appreciation post for the friends that made the trip all that it was.

(Photos by Taj Ingram, Click to enlarge)

About a month and a half ago I traveled to the other side of the world, and I brought 2 friends. Akrem Berhanu. Tajuddin Ingram. I had had many deep conversations with Akrem, but we'd spent most of our friendship at long distance. I knew I liked Taj, but, I did just meet him only a handful of weeks before we left together. We spent two weeks braving the unknown together. Having shared that experience, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that these are incredible men and I am so glad to have them as friends.

Rewind just a bit.

I've enjoyed traveling in the most recent years of my life. It a privilege to be able to travel. There are countless blessings that accompany travel, and one need not fly to other side of the world to experience them. A few of the benefits of travel that can name:

- Understanding oneself independent of the societal structures we inevitably rely upon in our home contexts
- Putting ourselves in environments that allow our currrent conceptions of the world to be challenged
- Meeting people who open our horizons
- Tasting foods with flavors beyond our imagination
- Witnessing another of the infinite possible manifestations of life, civilization, and culture
- Learning to trust oneself
- Discovering things beyond your comfort zone that you are content to keep outside of your comfort zone--discovering your own limits
- Practicing new languages
- Learning to embrace our own ignorance with patience and humility--an inevitable experience of surviving in a foreign culture.

To name a few.

With all that in mind, when people in my life suggested I use my present hiatus in life responsiblities to travel the world, I denied them. I was too tired. I was too eager to keep the company of people of I cared about after living alone for months. My aversion to traveling washed away upon the suggestion that I travel.....with friends.

I thought through my list of friends, considering who might be available and who I could stand to live with for a full 2 weeks. Akrem came to mind. We made a tenative plan. While making said plan we consulted another friend of ours--Khaled--who had traveled to Morocco before. In an incredibly serendipitous chain of events, I find myself hanging out with Khaled and some others a few days later. In the midst of our goodbyes that night, Khaled and I overhear Taj--who I am just meeting--say he wants to travel to Morocco in a few weeks. Ideas click. Lightbulbs illuminate. And a few weeks later Taj, Akrem, and myself are aboard an international flight bound for Morocco. The trip itself is full of adventure and reflection. Andalusia reminded me that ultimately dominion is from God and men cannot hold power forever. Morocco showed me that the variety of landscapes and climates in a single country are yet another side of God. Check out my other travel posts for more on that. "Return of the Moors" blog series

I want to highlight, here, the ways in which having my friends along with me brightened the whole exprience.

Akrem elected himself defacto videographer of the trip. He recorded our reflections at different moments in the trip and pushed us to think about how each moment of the trip might influence our views on life and world. This sort of introspection is entirely in line with the man that Akrem is. He considers every experience and derives every ounce of value and growth there is to be had with each occasion in life. It's just the way he thinks. It's incredible. Just as he is intentional about closely considering each detail of life, he is also wise in recognizing what of these details is beyond his control. Akrem brought this balance of critical thinking and trust in God to the trip--the combination of which brought of sense of peace and reassuredness to my own experience.

Taj was the undisputed photographer of the trip. Akrem and I had our moments, but Taj came prepared. With each photograph Taj helped position us and set the context for us to best capture the moment. In the same way Taj brought his incredible knowledge of the world to every excursion--placing our minds in the right historical context. He peppered silent moments with the most bizarre facts of history and some of most insightful connections on world politics. The diversity of knowledge he brings to bare reflects a commitment to learning and understanding that is rare.

As one might imagine, the many conversations we had on our trip--in car rides, waiting at airports, and in the stretched out moments of late nights--were an exercise of the mind all their own. Such is inevitable in a room of intellectuals. More than that, the conversation was substantive. We spoke about the need for morality in society, the role of individuals in families, the inevitable centrality of faith in civilization, and more. From their interests and from the ways in which they carry themselves, I know these are men of character. And I am happy to call them my friends.

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