NEW WEBSITE; Travel Instincts

Hi nomads,

Today I am pleased to launch my brand new website; Travel-Instincts.com
> New format; much shorter entries 😉
> New design
> Feedback welcome
> …and new posts too!!

All my best,
Vincent

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LXXVIII/ You weren’t born to just pay bills and die

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.”

My expertise.
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.

#ExistentialQuestions
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…!


Metaphorical self-questioning.
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.

Sequelae
“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.”

LXXVII/ Life happened

“Choose life

Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares
Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently
And choose watching history repeat itself
Choose to smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen
And then… take a deep breath
You’re an addict, so be addicted
Just be addicted to something else
Choose the ones you love
Choose your future
Choose life”

“These days I’m on top of my game and I have such a lust for life, a determination to win that I’m convinced is gonna take me right where I wanna go” – so I was writing 6 months ago in my last blogpost… if only I knew how right I was..!
Just to give you a rough idea of all that happened to me the past 6 months; I found my true calling and got the most fascinating job I could have ever wished for, I quit smoking, I quit biting my nails and more broadly speaking, I got rid of a whole bunch of self-consuming habits/addictions I used to have for years – even decades for some. I’m not gonna lie, I am proud of myself. You know sometimes pride can be a good thing, and in my case it’s nothing but a reflection of my self-esteem. And as far as I’m concerned, self-esteem is much needed to overcome major changes in life.
I guess what I mean is that I am in tune with who I truly am daily. In control and rocking it.

You’re an addict; so be addicted. Just be addicted to something else.
So I chose a job that matches my DNA – the international communications industry – I chose to fall (back) in love with the mountains surrounding my hometown instead of always aiming for new ones at the end of the world, I chose to take the plunge and become the fully-fledged adult I was going to be for the rest of my life.
I chose to live in peace. And this brand-new life is rewarding me with more love and sense of pride than I thought it could.
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”

“I suddenly felt as if I had a clearer vision of it all. An unusual lucidity. And I felt full of enthusiasm for life. I wanted to question fate, to understand the reason for our existence, to discover a common ground for science and spirituality, to invent a new art… ”
To quit smoking really has been an eye-opener to me. It’s been a game-changer in my life in the way that it is from this point forward that I realized that anything truly was possible to achieve in this life. It’s incredible how much self-confidence getting rid of that addiction had me gain – as well as how much freer I feel now.

To be honest I can’t believe that it’s been 6 months I haven’t posted a single word… Especially because the very reason that has kept me from writing – everything that has happened to me in the interim – could easily be enough to fill a book. Indeed, it is ridiculous all that has occurred in my life this past half-year and now I just have no idea where to start.
So just as a wise one once told me ‘if you have no idea where to start, just start somewhere’.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
 Essentially what’s going on is that I work so hard at day time to properly fulfil my new position (as much as it fulfils me) that I almost systematically end up too exhausted to do anything by the time I can call it a day. And boy oh boy, regardless at how fascinating the job may be, you’d be surprised at how quick one gets stuck in an overwhelming (sedentary) daily routine…
And of course, when the weekend comes, I always get a sense of needing to do shitloads of stuff for myself as I don’t want my life to look as if it was fully dedicated to my job. You know the peeps from my gen we’re really attached to keep the right balance between work and private life – like the last thing we want is to have our job sucking out all our time and energy.
So yes, when you put that fresh career start next to my busy weekends… I end up with a very good excuse not to write anymore – and broadly speaking – make time to take stock and slow things down.

But maybe the answer is elsewhere?
Back when I started, I used to say ‘I write because nobody listens’. I must confess that I don’t feel that way anymore. Now people do listen to what I say, or at least, I don’t feel like my words go unnoticed. One of the perks of approaching your thirties; you’ve accumulated enough life experience to catch people’s attention and make the difference with your fiercely-earned yet legitimate credibility.
“No need to write anymore bla bla bla”… see?? Just found another excuse not to finish this post… Truth is, the reason why it took me so long to get back to writing is due to a bunch of recent realizations.

“Choose life, choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares”
That is just so true. At some point, I came to wonder whether all that had a meaning at all? I mean damn, I love my art and I used to often get heartfelt feedbacks (always welcome! =) ) telling me I should go on and go bigger even. But there’s a part of me starting to doubt. I mean isn’t everything you do online sort of meaningless today? See, all those people addicted to their social media, to their ‘likes’ and e-reputation… Makes one wonder whether one shouldn’t rather spend all that time actually doing things instead of posting… Don’t wanna be one of those that end up living up to their follower’s expectations, stuck in their world of lies and appearances. Can’t help thinking of what Benjamin Franklin cleverly said; ‘either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’

Opportunity dances with those already on the dancefloor, not with those that spend the night Tweeting about being in the club.
But then once the storm’s over, do you wanna know what systematically takes me back to my obsession for writing? My unconditional love for Word Porn. Every time I read one of those quotes I often share with you, every time I hear an actor, a singer, a charismatic figure pronounce one of those lines to perfection, I get goosebumps and I instantly remember that Word Porn is one of those key things my heart pumps for. What makes me feel most alive. Then I remember that I’m one of those folks capable of making others feel that way through my writings. Would it only be for this reason, I know that I need to carry on. For the good words do to people.
The way I write may evolve over time, the posts’ format, their length… whatever, I need to continue what I started 4,5 years ago.

Because it is ridiculously pleasant to read back my own words once years have gone by and instantly get more melancholic than when watching old photographsThe power of words. A heartfelt quote really has the power to make your sorrow go away, to help you find the strength needed to go forward and overcome any issue that initially seemed unsurmountable. A well-written and well-thought-out piece will have you remember every single detail of a given memory. All those uncountable – yet easily-forgettable – scraps of your priceless life.

The most dreadful stuff I ever read.
A couple years ago, I remember reading that piece about some study that had been carried out on human memory. Essentially, their point was that every time you think of a given memory, you actually think of the last time you remembered it. Meaning that if last time, you didn’t try very hard to remember it in detail, this time is gonna be much harder for you to recall more aspects of that memory than it would have been the last time… And so forth… So write I must, hopefully until the end of my days. Would it only be for me to try and remember how awesome life is. We all believe so hard that we’ll never forget that particular event that year, or what we shared with this specific person back in college and so on… but the truth is, as years go by, your memory begins to fade – like you struggle sometimes only to recall some good old mate’s first name…
You know, referring only those recent years on the road, despite how unique every bit of those experiences have been, reading my blog had me realize that there’s so much I wouldn’t recall if it wasn’t for what I wrote about it.

No more excuses.
In the meantime, to my greatest enchantment, to write has become a major part of my daily job. I write loads of press releases, I sell news, I do verbal marketing and much story-telling too. Not that I’m trying to come up with an umpteenth excuse to tell you why I’ve often been too busy/lazy to write lately, but one has the right to wonder… when you get home from a long day’s work, would stripping your wife naked and have sex be your number one priority if you were a gynecologist?

 

And I’m sorry it took so long but eh, life happened.