What is there awaiting travelers in the desert? What is there out in nature, waiting to reconnect with man? Eric Trules has discovered it, he thinks. That nothingness that means something: a nomadic way of life, a connection to nature, a cooperation with the land, a lack of civilization that means an increase in humanity. Eric Trules has been a professional in the performing, literary, and filmic arts for almost five decades. He’s worked as a dancer, in the theater, as an actor, and even as a clown. In his life outside of his work, he takes what he’s learned in his decades of performance and applies it to his thinking about travel. Trules’ show, “e-travels with e. trules,” contains musical scores, sound effects, and everything in between, and his magnificent voice telling his amazing stories. Living in Echo Park, California, and traveling all over the world, Eric has learned how to make others laugh, how to help life happen, how to parent his nephew, how to make travel his medium, how to make oneself vulnerable, and how to connect people in challenging times reconnect again. Life awaits you in the desert, if you are brave enough to seek it on your camel safari.
It’s Israel, in May of 1999, and travel is easy. As a result, Eric has the idea to go out into the Sinai Desert, the home of camels, Moses, and the Red Sea, and have the sun bake the life out of him and suck the logic out. The best of Israel comes to the Sinai Desert to escape their day-to-day lives, because the sun, the earth, and the sea will slow you down until time is lost and you have no desire to return to civilization. He went to a camp on the Red Sea and adventured for himself, feeling the desire to walk in the steps of Moses and Joshua and to sleep under an endless starry sky. First, he needed to get enough supplies and camels to make the journey he wanted to take both possible and worthwhile. He composed a team of people willing to uncivilize themselves in the desert, and together they took a camel safari. They followed the same path that the Jews followed all those years ago, witnessing the same journey they did, navigating broad spaces, narrow canyons, and the changing day as the sun shifted. Eric found an oasis here. He realized that there is nothing in the desert: no politics, no borders, no religions. There is only a nomadic, respectful, dependent way of life, which requires a cooperation with the land and which has existed for thousands of years. In the desert, modern civilization and its instant conveniences disappear. In the desert, you realize how distant we have grown from nature, and how much we have lost touch with ourselves in the process, and with the very things that make us human. You gain independence from nature in civilization, disrespecting and ignoring mother nature and ourselves in doing so, and you lose your sense of awe in the power of the natural universe. Eric experienced a rare perfect moment under the orange desert moon. He remembered there was bloodshed in this land now, and that only hatred and history causes problems like these, nothing inherent. Everyone could benefit from taking a camel safari into the desert and forgetting about civilization.
Making a fool of yourself will help others to laugh, and Eric Trules knows this to be absolutely true. After all, he took a little French in high school and purposefully butchered the language in a humorous way just to make his French audience smile. He made himself vulnerable in doing so, in making himself a person trying to communicate rather than someone who does not wish to understand. Language opens people up makes connections between different cultures and individuals. As a clown, Eric Trules formed a company of New York clowns who traveled the city, completely out of context, and disrupted reality, creating public theatrical mayhem to make the everyday experience something bigger, comical, lighthearted, and relieving. If you put yourself out there, you show people a different side of life. He does consider his full-time job being “Mr. Mom,” however, as he is a father to his Indonesian nephew from Sumatra. He wholeheartedly believes in the mantra: “Life is what happens while you’re waiting for other plans to work out.” Eric Trules once asked a woman for directions and ended up marrying her, so he understands the value of taking risks, making yourself vulnerable, and seeing what comes of it. He also sees the value of compromising different outlooks and styles in life with those around you, your partners in life. Vulnerability is key.
Eric Trules has been building his podcast since Y2K. He has a long background as a performing artist, writer, and storyteller who has been focusing more and more on travel stories for a while now. He started a travel blog back in 2000 in an internet coffee shop in Southeast Asia that went by the same name as his podcast now. He wanted to capture the flavor of where he was and what he was doing for his friends, and so one of his friends helped him create and design his blog for him. After this, he began to perform on stages, both in Los Angeles and internationally, telling his stories everywhere. Witnessing this, a student of his told him that they preferred hearing him tell stories over reading them, and suggested that he create a podcast. Since then, he has gotten students to help him with sound design, sound effects, and music composition, collaborating to convey his voice, his tone, his vibes from his travels, contributing information and music and sounds and tales that relieve people from the other horrible stories they hear in the news. Composers are able to achieve sensations and emotions of places just through music and, by listening to these stories, they’re able to compose such beautiful sounds and inspire their listeners. Eric Trules strives to inspire. In fact, his stories, he says, have two tracks: to help listeners travel vicariously through his story and the music and the feel, and, for those who have traveled a lot, to strike a memory chord for those who have been to where he’s traveled. Travel is his medium, and he wants to help everyone divided by borders, religions, politics reconnect again through their mutual humanity, by learning about other people through these travel stories. He hopes that his stories connect people in these challenging times and over challenging barriers. One of Eric’s maxims that he offers his students is that vulnerability is their greatest strength. Your wounds and your lives and your deepest stories are your treasures that you have to share with people, and the same is true of any story being told. Vulnerability puts you in place as an underdog and changes how people react to you, and helps you leave your house in the morning to take the risk on travel.