• Reece Willis

Towards Simpler Times

Updated: Jun 1


On route to Rohtang La, India 1996

In 1996 I embarked on a backpacking trip around India for one hundred nights, which is what a majority of Towards the Within is based upon. In those days there was no social media or mobile phones at hand and instead of an iPod, I listened to a Sony Walkman that held cassette tapes. In some ways they were simpler times. Recently, when I returned from Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong, I realised how much I’d lost by taking endless pictures with the convenience of a digital camera and being glued to my mobile phone; just how much I’d missed out from absorbing everything around me.


Siwa Oasis, Egypt 1997

I look back with great fondness at my travels to Africa and Asia in the late nineties. I came away with something, for want of a better word, spiritual. I connected more with the people around me, rather than pixelated faces miles away on a screen. I had to be careful with how many photos I took because of the burden of lugging around endless 35mm film canisters. And I would gaze from the windows of buses and trains, watching the world pass by, finding the finer details in life that I would otherwise have missed if my eyes were transfixed to my phone. I also had to face certain challenges such as navigation and relying on my own wits, that built strength of character that is so easily abandoned with modern technology.


Kegalle, Sri Lanka 1998

I tried to keep the writing of Towards the Within as authentic as possible. My life was documented by pen and paper in a journal. Words would pour out at the end of the day or the occasional thought would be jotted down in passing, but soon stowed away for my mind to be lost once again to sweeping vistas and smiling faces. I feel slight regret over my recent trip, knowing that time cannot be reversed and those moments cannot be recaptured. I see it as a lesson to be learnt however. This year I will be slinging my backpack over my shoulder and heading to Nepal for research for my third book. I’ll be sure to keep my phone tucked in my pocket, more in than out, to not find the need to photograph every single thing and take up a pen once again and create a journal. For I find the greatest happiness in rekindling my early days of travelling when I glide through the thoughts and feelings of my younger self in the form of crinkled pages, worn by adventures and the ticking hands of time.



Manali, India 1999

Towards The Within is available now in paperback and on Amazon Kindle

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