Bahia Taganga, Colombia! Day 10.
I’m wielding in a hammock, a cooling towel wrapped around my forehead. It is scorching hot outside. Too hot to even go to the beach. I want to take some time to write about a topic I care about.
The benefits of long-term travel.
In 2009, I hopped on a plane to China.
That was the first time I left Europe for more than 2 weeks. When I got off the plane, I had no clue what was going on. The food, the language, the manners; it all was so… different.
While I was overwhelmed in the beginning, I later realized the benefit I seeded:
1. You learn to pay attention to your environment
In Germany, I was a wreck. I ruined all my relationships. I lied a lot. I lived inside a victim story of my own mind. Now, being in China, my mind could simply not work in the same ways. In fact, I could not trust my mind at all.
That was the first time I realized: I am not the story I have about myself.
Slowly, my mind opened up to new ways of living in and interacting with the world. I mean, it had to. Though I remained mostly negative for a few more years, a pattern learned very early in childhood, I realized that there is a different way.
2. You learn that you will always be alright
Last year, I went to Stanley, Virginia.
I lived there with Brad Blanton. I had a little shed with no running water. I came to realize this most important lesson:
No matter what happens, I will be alright.
There will always be a shed for me to live in. There will always be some food for me to eat. I can always make friends. My time in the little shed peeled away a few layers of anxiety and made room for a new confidence to grow.
3. You learn that you are enough
In my teenage years, I was confused (some might say I still am).
I went shopping almost every weekend. Mostly, I bought new, limited Nike shoes… just to keep them in the box and stuff them in my, already loaded, closet.
I wanted some identity, some group to be a part of, some approval.
When I went to South Africa for a couple of months, I realized this:
I created a character armor.
I used high-prized items, limited editions, cars, and so on, to make up for a deep-seated feeling of “not being enough”. Pondering in the African desert, I realized that I am good enough the way I am. So is everyone else.
Just by being here right now, you and I have infinite value.
It can’t be any different.
4. You learn to embrace uncertainty
At home, I was attached to my expectations. I wanted the world to live up to my expectations. I could not deal with my expectations not being met.
When I went to Mexico, I learned a different way.
Life, I came to realize, is uncertain itself.
Control is an absolute illusion. No one is in control. Nothing is certain. We are all waves, being waved by an underlying life force.
There is only one thing you can be certain of: life is uncertain.
Might as well embrace it and do what you like.
5. You develop gratitude for life
I grew up a greedy single child. I always wanted more.
One day, my dad told me there was a Ferrari in the garage. I sprinted down the stairs, cranked up the garage, and saw… nothing. I looked a little closer:
My dad, in best intentions, put a Ferrari sticker on my golden bike.
I scratched it off.
I have tears in my eyes writing this now.
Working in the United States, I realized this:
Life is the biggest gift.
There is nothing that has to be done, nothing that needs to be achieved, nothing that has to be purchased. You are here. You already won.
Why not enjoy the little time you have, before fading back into oblivion?
May you have the courage to lead a life of your design!