I remember having a beer with my friend, Geoff, before leaving, and lamenting how disappointing it would be to go off on my adventure and return without having found what I have been looking for (purpose, vocation, etc). Being one of my many wise and astute friends that I surround myself with, Geoff readily responded that my goal should not be to “Find Myself”, but only to find clarity in my life.
So there I was, 4 weeks before making my return home when my mother questioned me “How are you going to process this trip after you get home?”. The truth is, I had already been sifting through my memories, looking for the truths and feelings that resonated with me the most. I knew that upon arriving home, my friends and family would be curious to hear about my favorite adventures and hoping to understand some of the things that I took away from those experiences. Personally, I find it difficult to define my favorite adventure or experience. There were so many fantastic experiences that to choose one or two would somehow De-emphasize the others, and that unfortunately is something I’m unable to do.
For me, travel is about the people. The places, adventures, and activities are just the icing on the cake. Those experiences really do not mean so much without the people that you encounter along the way. The validation that I received from people was incredible. Everyone I met, understood what I was doing and why I was doing it. And everyone was full of ideas and untapped creativity. It spurred me to think about my pursuits in an entirely different way.
Connection in this world may be the single most important quest in this life. I don’t want to say that I have the answer to life, the universe, and everything (42), but it seems to me to be one of the most important quests I’ve ever undertaken; and one of the most enjoyable. While on my adventure, I became very inspired reading about the Connection Economy in The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. The only way we are able to achieve anything of value in life, and to create the art that we’re capable of, is through the connections that we make along the way. These connections can be personal, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual.
I’ve learned that we have it good in this country. I’ve seen so much poverty. People selling their handiwork on the streets with their children sitting beside them. I’ve met so many people with the drive to try and make something / anything happen. The excuses that I’ve been making for myself cannot stand moving forward. While I’m fearful of falling flat on my ass for trying something ambitious and crazy from time to time, I have a really good track record of walking away from such events with a minimal amount of injuries, both physical and emotional.
Attitude and perspective go a long way. While we cannot control all the challenges that pop up in our lives, we can control how it affects us and how we treat other people along the way. Treating people badly because we’re upset (even if the person in question is the one making us upset) never leads to anything positive. And getting upset or worried does absolutely nothing for us, except take away our peace of mind and cloud our judgement.
I’m much happier living a smaller or more simple life. Before I left, I sold many of my belongings and then stored the remaining things in my friends storage shed. When I returned home and then traveled to his house to fetch some of necessary items, I was immediately struck by the number of items I had stored, that I now realized I could live without. After living out of a backpack for 4 months, you realize how much you really need to be happy. I think I’ve also started to look at ownership in a completely different way. What good is having something when you only use it a fraction of the time? Convenience? Yet the “weight” of ownership bears down on our shoulders. By “weight”, I mean the need to store said item; or the responsibility of keeping said item in good, working condition; or the worry we have if someone may steal it while we’re not present. It doesn’t make sense to me the energy we expend to have so many things. Understand though, I’m not suggesting we give up all our valuable possessions. I’m only suggesting that we trim the excess of that which we do not use often enough.
I believe that it is necessary that we have passion in our lives. I feel there’s an uneasy trend where passions are stifled, because it causes fear. To feel so strongly about something that you would risk almost everything can seem a bit childish or impulsive. But, coupled with wisdom; the wisdom gained from failure; passion is essential to pushing us forward and past all expectations and assumptions. You cannot create something great without passion. And we need to focus on our passions more. More passion. Less monetary gain. We should concentrate on the things that we love, rather than the money or gain that we hope to achieve in the future. Nor should we fear failure, for failure produces wisdom, which only makes us better at the art that we create.
And lastly, slow down and savor the moments in your life. Appreciate them. You will not always be happy. You can escape and travel the world for four months; or maybe a year; but things will not always be what you expected. You’ll be disappointed from time to time and you’ll be challenged by forces beyond your control. To savor the truly amazing and memorable moments in your life is to appreciate the challenges and hardships that you’ve endured; and that my friends is what living life is all about.