a time to plant and a time to uproot
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always had.
I am a firm believer in this principle, not that I'm particularly unhappy with my current circumstances, just that I crave change. Maybe it was my upbringing, moving houses, or traveling at a very young age, but whatever the case may be, after my year abroad I still need more.
The thing I find most funny about people who travel for the first time, do it in "Facebook fashion." They use their travels and stories to add as accessories to their social media profiles, rather than actually immersing themselves in the experience. I remember such a moment clearly in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. Our driver took us far away from civilization into the cool, misty mountains of the Atlases. He pulled the SUV to the side of the road and pull out two bags, one with peppered olives, and the other with Khobz bread that we bought at the beginning of the journey. It was a priceless moment. My three friends and I stood huddled in a circle, facing our back to the icy wind and broke bread. Then the silence was broken, "Can you take a picture of me for Instagram?" This individual, who shall remain nameless, was no longer with us. He had left that moment of pure tranquility and brotherhood in the oldest tradition, by sharing it with his 600 or so followers. I walked away as he posed in different positions (holding the bread, then the olives, then both) to clear my head.
The end point of this tangent was to illustrate the wrong (how dare I?) motivations for having new experiences. Too many people too often go on their "life-changing-greatest-year-of-their-life" when studying or traveling abroad, however I feel very much the same. I am very appreciative of everyone I met along the way, and definitely affirmed my love for the journey, but in no way did I find it the greatest year of my life. I find it a bit disheartening for those who do. It doesn't get better from here? Then what's the point?
Instead, I see this past year as experiences that have helped me grow along my path, whatever that may be. It was not a turning point, nor had it given me a life-altering savoir-faire. I believe that a number of these experience are to be shared with others, posted on social media and blogs such as these, but some of those experiences should be reserved for internal contemplation. It's what we do and who we are when faced with solitude, when no one's watching, that defines us.
Too often in out media-heavy, texting, posting, anti-social socializing society, we forget about the importance of internalization. It’s either not cool, or would make for a very uninteresting update that would not get the desired amount of likes to prove one’s self-worth (that’s a whole different post). What I like to do when I have encountered a new experience, when I’ve received a good dosing of adrenaline or achieved a sense of euphoria... is just pause. My thoughts either completely drift away, or I think to myself:
What would the version of myself a year ago think about this?
What have I gathered most from this experience? What does that say about me?
Remember this moment later.
That last one is key. If you make the all-purpose intention of remembering a moment, what is smelled, sounded, looked, felt, and even tasted like, I've found that it sticks with you that much more. If I ever want to go back to that moment, I simply close my eyes and let all that sensory data stored in my hippocampus flood my brain and return me to that point in time.
So about that change I was talking about. I’ve recently read, in succession in about three days, the three books by author-entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss. I’ve always wanted and strived to be a modern day renaissance man, a man of many skills and talents. On my own thus far I’ve learned to cook, massively increased my proficiency in film, photography, photo/video editing, traversed the Himalayas both by foot and mountain bike, learned French and Italian with plans on beginning Chinese, and I am currently in the process of teaching myself yoga and t’ai chi ch’uan. This of course pales in comparison to Tim’s list of skills, but there will be a day that I hope I can give him a run for his money. All I have to do know is become a self-made entrepreneur, who says 20 is too young? I’ve resorted to eating healthier, waking up earlier, and generally following the rules set in The 4-Hour Body.
I hate saying that “I’m on a diet” or “I on this new workout routine” because that implies temporary. I’m not interested in temporary. I’m interested in dramatic, sustainable change until I feel like it’s time to shift gears again. So consider this blog post my record of accountability for how long I actually stick to the lifestyle, but so far it hasn’t been difficult or strenuous. In fact I find myself more relaxed, with more energy, and revitalized to improve myself in other areas of my life.
Here I come world.