t”Driven forward by the fact that no matter how empty the world seemed, no matter how degraded and used up the world appeared to us, we knew that anything was still possible. And, given the right circumstances, a new world was just as likely as an old one.”
At work, there’s that charismatic and pretty popular researcher, expert in mindfulness and well-being at work, that everyone seems to rightfully admire. Charismatic because before anything else, the guy has a unique background. Indeed, he is a former army fighter pilot who has converted into a teacher. A teacher in (economic) peace. Striking story huh?
What caught my attention is that he was in the army precisely for 6 years. My personal life-changing experience – to have lived on the road for a fifth of my life – lasted exactly 6 years too. This is when I realized that what makes somebody inspiring is when they talk with their hearts about something that resembles them deeply.
My personal legend.
That similarity in our respective paths has been a triggering factor. Hence, I was gonna write about my personal and unique expertise; life on the road and the ‘uncharted’ homecoming that comes next.
Because this is my DNA. My true added value. Because despite my extensive traveler network, I don’t know of anyone that went through such sort of a similar life-changing experience that is to travel for this many years in a row. Because I struggled pretty hard to settle down after all those years of nomadic ecstasy and nowhere I could find help or comforting words I could have related to. There are thousands of travel blogs out there telling where to go, how to pack efficiently but there is none to help you go through your homecoming then. Hope my writings can help some lost souls out there, would it only be by spreading the word that you’re not alone.
This is it, in my last post I was realizing that I had to come back to writing and this week I’m figuring out in what direction I’m going.
So how do you adjust to a sedentary lifestyle coming back from such a (6 year) journey? How do you adapt to a society and its codes that you grew up far away from and know nothing about? Can you blend in at all? How does a global citizen deals with sedentism once the backpacking chapter of his life is over?
One year after my return, it is time to take stock.
“I regained my soul through literature after those times I’d lost it to wild-eyed gypsy girls on the world streets.”
Despite what it may look like now that you see me wearing neat shirts, I remember my “previous life” as if it were yesterday. But yesterday ended a year ago… I never quite collected passport stamps but I’ve always been madly obsessed with maps. Just like a cat gets tricked by a laser pointer, it’s just too funny the way I instantly drown into them for hours and forget about the world around me as soon as any given map is put under my nose. Travel plans were as vital to me as water is to a plant. Used to be like ‘each new city, a victory’. And now I’ve seen hundreds of them, lived in a dozen of different countries.
If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
I’m often asked why suddenly decide to go home and leave everything behind if it was that empowering and essential to my life?
I’d tell you that the answer lies in the question. I am an adventurer, and, to me, it got to a point where radically change lifestyle was more challenging than continuing in a path where one has become expert. Challenges are essential to keep life worthwhile. Over time, I realized that, to me, it was just so much easier to flight than to fight.
The greatest experiences are usually waiting for us far outside of our comfort zone, even if your comfort zone happens to be the opposite of everyone else’s.
Why quit full-time traveling?
Because to me, to this day and until I’m proven otherwise, the ability to adapt to change still is the best proof of intelligence.
I was firmly convinced that I knew it all, that having set foot on 5 continents provided me with that extra little something that made me unique – but it’s precisely when I quit feeling superior and opened-up to the most radical of changes that my life really took off.
Halfway between a betrayal and a final accomplishment.
Settling in, finding a steady and interesting job, getting an apartment… All that resulted in mixed feelings at first. I remember how, during the first weeks – perhaps months – it really felt halfway between a betrayal and a final accomplishment. A betrayal because I sort of left all my fellow nomads behind and traded my 70-liter backpack for a white collar. A final accomplishment for, not knowing exactly how, it felt as if I had been working towards that goal my whole life.
Truth is, places are just places. At the end of the day, a place is only as worthy as what you invest in it.
Old habits die hard.
Although, as far as I know, it doesn’t mean it was any easy, not at all in fact. For the record, it took me about 6 months to accept to leave my toothbrush in my bathroom – as opposed to having it packed in my toilet bag, next to my backpack, in my bedroom, always unconsciously ready to take off… So if you happen to be in my case don’t freak out, it is totally normal to have bizarre behaviors when you return home from long-term travel. As I said, it took me about 6 months to adjust, and between us, even today, I’m not sure I’m entirely “fixed”. Damn, 6 months for 6 years…!
Traveling was all about learning the difference between what you want and what you need. Now I’m learning all about comfort, that unknown concept I lived far away from for so long. And I’m beginning to figure out that finding someone who loves you for what you really are, at your best, at your worst, is true love. Not this constant search for adventure.
“A wise man can always be found alone. A weak man can always be found in the crowd.”
I never considered it a bad/sad thing that to eat alone. Matter of fact, I actually rather find it to be a luxury. Silence is king. But most people don’t, and they look at you strange when you do, or even funnier, they pity you. Damn, it’s in these moments that I realize that we’re definitely not all wired the same way.
Trust everyone, but always cut cards.
This is only one example out of hundreds of how tricky it can be to me to readjust to life in society. A sedentary society.
Mostly for, deep down in my heart, and because of all those years of solo-traveling, I’m just too accustomed to work as a lone wolf. To rely on nobody but myself. Not to trust anyone fully, and never bond to a point it’ll make you weep when saying farewell.
A couple years back I remember writing ‘I’m a lone wolf and a vicious one, but if somehow you manage to catch my attention, I’m willing to offer you everything I have.’
All good things are wild and free.
Having to rely only on myself was empowering and comfortable.
But years following those essential self-protecting nomad rules have left me with serious social issues now. Like I can’t bear group projects, like I can’t delegate, like I can’t have anyone watching over my back or tell me what to do. Lucky me, I found a company that has a very visionary staff management policy.
I realize I must be horribly difficult to manage, a hardworking free-spirit that can’t take any direct orders… Deal with it. That said, if you manage to find a way to channel me and my (Spanish) temper, I’ll sure be one of your best assets and ambassador. See?? I even mention you in my blog…
“Don’t forget, which is to say remember, because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting.”
Now that I’m all settled in, I tend to forget how far I’ve come back from.
They say never forget how far you’ve come. Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have learned and developed along the way.
As Paulo Coelho wrote; we forget about all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far.
You don’t get where I am by sticking to the plan.
The closer you stand from achieving your wildest dream, the closer you are to turn into your own worst enemy. It is just too easy to give up when at the foot of the podium. Never give up. Take that final step and accept that reward you fought so hard for.
Until then, don’t forget to reward yourself daily for every little step you take toward achieving your goal(s), regardless at how insignificant the step may seem compared with the immensity of your goal itself. And even when you achieve your goals, take time to appreciate your victory, because it is just too easy to move on to your next objective forgetting to celebrate the fruits of your hard work. In the meantime, don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, life is here to take care of that.
“You asked me to teach you chess, and I’ve done that. It’s a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don’t enjoy playing. Do you know why not? Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little and everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings and pawns. I don’t think that anyone is worth more than anyone else. I don’t envy you the decisions you’re gonna have to make. And one day I’ll be gone and you’ll have no one to talk to. But if you remember nothing else, please remember this chess is just a game. Real people aren’t pieces. And you can’t assign more value to some of them than to others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is that anyone who looks on the world as if it was a game of chess, deserves to lose.”