Solace in solidarity at SXSW.

I’m pretty convinced the natural state of being a walking, talking, thinking person is to be a little depressed and doubtful. Spending extended time alone is a good gauge of this “life fact”. Nothing puts the solidarity of it all into perspective quite like going to a strange new town and riding solo.

That’s not to say people aren’t generally happy… but let’s face it, life is a damn mystery and it’s easiest to get lost in it all when there’s no one around. Just you and your thoughts. And it doesn’t take much to be completely consumed by a racing mind. Just a little Jack and some soulful tunes for me.

Austin is a beautiful and soulful city, one of the best I’ve visited thus far, and I’m eternally grateful to Crowdtap for giving me the chance to come to Texas to film their event and experience this city’s culture and the brilliance of SXSW firsthand, both for the first time. I had some pretty far-fetched misconceptions about Texas and I’m happy to say that they were very wrong. Austin is a city on the forefront of progressive thinking, culture and personality… traits that made me fall in love with San Diego almost two years ago now. People are genuine here just like they are in San Diego. The only real difference is the ocean.

Originally, I had planned only to be in Austin until, well, yesterday. But the biggest benefit to how I’ve chosen to proceed is that decisions can be made on the fly. How do you decide when to “go back home” when you have no home to go back to?

So now I’ll be staying in Austin the full length of SXSW and am planning to depart early next week, probably Monday. A full week and some change to soak all of Austin in and everything it has to offer. From the food, to the music, to just walking down 6th Street and seeing what happens. Though a week is hardly enough to fully appreciate this southern gem.

I don’t know how many life-changing experiences a person can have in one lifetime but I feel like I’ve been having them with a steadily increasing frequency and magnitude. Seriously, SXSW here in Austin has impacted me in a way that I can only TRY to explain verbally and still could never do justice to. Brilliant minds have come together in cities across the globe long before any of us were here… I remember reading about similar festivals in ancient Greece and Rome where the best minds of the era all met for days on end. It’s our ability to actively think and collaborate that make humans the king of all earths species and festivals like SXSW transcend what any one person would be able to achieve on their own. It’s simultaneously amazing and humbling and I still have a week to go.

I have a habit of getting lost in my thoughts and thinking too determinedly on one thing, trivial as it may be. I overanalyze and regularly find myself anxiously pacing and sometimes feel like I’m toeing the fine line between adventuresome and insane. I’ve been certain of my rash decisions in the past and have acted on my gut just to question my decisions short hours afterwards, alone.

The shared beauty of life though is that NO ONE really knows what the hell they’re doing. I don’t care if we’re talking about a band playing SXSW for the third year in a row or a homeless dude soliciting tourists for change on a street corner or the President of the United States. People go to school, have families, jobs, possessions, dreams, whatever… but nobody knows for a fact what the end goal is. The only parts of life we all share in are being born, wanting and death, the ultimate certainty.

Everyone questions themselves and their path in life multiple times throughout it. After all, you only get one shot at it and that’s scary enough by itself. Being alone can amplify these feelings. Being alone can be terrifying… but where I used to dread it, I have found that it’s also very healthy. It gives you a chance to focus on yourself, to really examine your heart and your intentions and realize where you want to be when the curtain closes. Too often we assign labels to feelings and emotions: happy is positive, sad is negative. I believe that being a little down is just as positive as being happy. Balance in all things, even “positive” and “negative” emotion, is the key to a fulfilling existence.

Thousands upon thousands of people have come to Austin for SXSW and even more will come and somehow I still find myself feeling starkly alone at times. But I do not see it as a failure or a letdown. The people here are geniuses and they are here in masses. Collaborate, talk, meet, network, share… Spending periods alone is the only way to let it all soak in and truly appreciate the significance of something like SXSW. I wouldn’t be doing Glass Duffle if I didn’t absolutely love meeting new people. But it’s just as important that we are all spending time alone to maintain balance and perspective.

So! Shouts to Crowdtap for giving me an excuse to come down to Austin for SXSW. A week is hardly enough to completely absorb all that Austin has to offer, but I shall certainly give it a shot.

Author: Eric White

Eric graduated Ohio University in 2012 with a degree in Advertising and immediately went out to San Diego, California to start not using his degree. At the start of 2013, Eric quit his job, let his lease run out and started backpacking North America. Eric has worked with Amtrak, Crowdtap, HootSuite and others, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA... when not on the road.

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  1. Another GREAT read my man – I am generally not a fan of reading to say the least, but these blogs have been very interesting. Hope all is well (as it sure seems to be)!

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    • You’re the man! Thanks dude and yeah everything is goin good… been a bit of a struggle the last few days but it’s all comin together. Hope you’re doing good in the ‘Burgh! Be around soon.

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  2. Hey Eric , will be checking in on you now and then . Was cool having a drink with you on the ride out of Tucson to LA , I left you that empty seat , hope you got some rest . Enjoy San Diego .

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    • Great to hear from you Harold! And yeah, I was wondering where you had gone but thanks, definitely was able to catch some shut eye. Good luck to you!

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