LXXII/ Ask more than you answer

“Eat when there’s food, take a piss when there’s a bathroom, drink when there’s water, sleep when you get a chance and so on.”

So I was told prior setting out to the Philippines. And that turned out to be a pretty valuable piece of advice I got right there as these travels through Asia are turning out to be much more challenging than anything I did so far. First step; gotta lower your western standards big time.

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.”

If there’s one thing I noticed that is common throughout Southeast Asia it is how absolutely everything is just ridiculously chaotic and seem impossible but strangely enough, someway somehow, it almost always miraculously works out just fine. Only carried out in a total different manner than what you – as a westerner – were expecting. Nothing is ever for sure and everything is always changing. It just goes beyond our understanding is all. Anyone of you that’s already been to S.E. Asia will know what I’m talking about.

For instance, unlike what we’re used to, here when you need to arrange transportation you don’t just get on the internet and get a ticket, nah that would be way too easy. First of all, most places don’t have an internet connection at all and second, even when you miraculously get online, it’s only to find out that ain’t absolutely nothing online; no schedule, no info, no website, no transparency, no nothing. Actually when you’re browsing the net you systematically find everything and its opposite, which is so confusing that you quickly just leave it alone.
DSC07797So here it is, you gotta do it the local way. Gotta interact with a local, knowing that most of the times you have no language in common and a total different culture. You are aware that it seems like they have no clue whatsoever what you want, that they could perfectly misunderstand and fix you a buko shake instead of a boat ride to the next island but someway somehow, in the end it’s gonna work out. And believe me every time it works out, it is already a little miracle in itself. Of course it will never be the way you expected it to be, never on time, never really easy and often far from being stress-free given that up until the point where you’re actually arrived, you’re never sure where you’re headed, never sure that you won’t get tossed out of the bus half-way through the journey at some random spot with no further explanation and so on.

“You have not lived until you have fled a city in a country where you do not speak the language in the middle of the night.”

And right when you think your bus will make no more stop until its destination as there’s absolutely no more seats available at all, that’s precisely when another 15 new passengers come in. Basically they gonna keep on packing it up till it gets so cramped that you literally can’t even reach your water bottle anymore. Later on they eventually took another 5 passengers in. Those guys ended up traveling on the rooftop (literally) – hanging onto our backpacks that god-knows-how were strapped up there. And off we went for another couple hours through the jungle. I travel a lot, I hate having my life disrupted by routine.

“Adventure, yeah. I guess that’s what you call it when everybody comes back alive.”

Found out in the Philippines about what they call “Island Time” (say a common 2 to 3 hour delay) which later turned out to be something that applies to S.E. Asia in general. Only don’t think that you can just turn up at your bus stop an hour late and “be on time”, nope that’d just be too easy as well. Sometimes you’re told you’d be picked up at 6 and it actually means that your bus is gonna leave the town at 6 and so they may totally pick you up by 5 as they got several pick-ups to do all across the city. Yes you got it, when you got to catch a bus ride or anything like it, be sure to be there roughly an hour early and bear in mind that from there you could totally spend 3 hours waiting and still not be sure that your “booking” has ever been taken in account. Welcome to mindfuck-land.
DSCF2308XAnd in case you were thinking “yeah whatever, I could just throw more cash in and go through a better travel agency so I don’t have to fuck around so much.” Well I’m sorry pal but ain’t no better company around here. Let me get this straight; each and every company is fucked up one way or another and so such kind of plan B is not part of your options.
I gotta say it takes quite a while to adjust but before you know it, you no longer worry about what time the bus, train or boat arrives, you just accept that you will get there whenever you get there and it doesn’t take long until you consider an 8 hour ride a short journey.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

For the record, several times we’ve had to change our whole itinerary just because there was just no way to get to the spots we wanted to check out. In the Philippines you often end up going where they’re ok to take you rather than where you were initially planning on going to, as there’s just no choice and you don’t quite have a say. No matter where you’ll wind up, just go with the decision that’ll make for a good story.

“Greatness is not in where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. But sail we must. And not drift. Nor lie at anchor.”

Makes me think of something else that is pretty common in Southeast Asia; whenever you book a certain type of room, a certain type of transportation or even a certain tour with this and that option, when you pay extra for a little bit of extra comfort or anything like that, always bear in mind that NOTHING IS EVER GUARANTEED. Matter of fact most options you pay extra for are just widespread scams as at the end of the day everyone will get the very same standard service. It’s gotta be upsetting at first but to be fair you quickly get used to it and soon enough, when you actually get hot water for your shower or when the fan in sorta working in you room, it’s a little like a Xmas in August.

Of course, all those times you get ripped off you could just run down to the reception and make a fuss about it, yes, you will try that the first time, maybe even the second time as well. Only you’ll find out that about the “no english” thing and quickly you’ll just give up, get back to your crappy room and learn to be content with what you got as that’s just the way it is. Gotta face it, there’s just no point in arguing with them as it’ll just get you nowhere and could only drive you even more mad. Now whether or not they actually don’t speak English at all or they’re just pretending so they don’t have to put up with guests at all, this is another story. Because ripped off you will be, and countless times so you better get used to it. Matter of fact I believe that scams currently represent roughly 20 to 30% of my daily budget.

You never gonna pay twice the same price for a given item and you’re gonna have to haggle from dawn to dusk, from the price of your hotel room to a bag of roasted peanuts. Sometimes you just wanna say “just tell me the price and let me enjoy it” but it doesn’t work that way and it is tiring sometimes. That is probably one of the main reasons why most Westerners can’t handle it for very long.
DSCF2303edited.jpg
And this takes us right to the next topic; the “meaningless yes”. Again, whoever has spent time around here will join me on this, whatever you say, whatever you ask, you will always be answered a “yes” accompanied by a blank stare that clearly means that the person has no clue whatsoever what you’re talking about. Sure it sounds funny when you read it but I assure you that it gets veeeeery frustrating on a daily basis. Never take a “yes” for an answer, always rephrase a couple times with the simplest words, mime it, draw it when you can and always use open-ended questions otherwise you’ll just get your standard “yes” that means nothing at all. And once again, bear in mind that even when you take all those precautions, you may very well not be understood at all and you may have to find an answer some other place. Once I even had a lady telling me “yes yes yes” while she was distinctively shaking her head. Mindfuck-land I’m telling you.

Or maybe it is not so much of a mindfuck-land, maybe it is just something called culture shock. I have to say, all along my travels, I had never experienced such degree of a culture shock. Indeed it is very disorienting to lose your ability to communicate, especially when even your memes are often not good enough to get you through because of the culture difference this time. You may find yourself to be as good as mute sometimes and it ain’t easy when you gotta get things done.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”

Like at the restaurant, if you manage to have them take your order right, you’re the luckiest guy on earth. In fact quite often you can sorta tell that they did not get it right from the moment you ordered but again, knowing only too well the hassle due to the language barrier, most of the time you just can’t be fucked arguing for half an hour and get nowhere anyway. So you just kinda let go and let them bring you whatever they believed you wanted without moaning about it as you’re aware that there’s just no point, and sometimes their mistakes turn into beautiful culinary discoveries.
And you better be happy with what they bring you because here everything takes time. Matter of fact, here you don’t go to the restaurant when you’re just starting to get hungry or worse – already hungry, no, you gotta get there at least an hour beforehand otherwise you’ll end up starving to death waiting on your food.
DSC07537But that’s just the way it is, you gotta adjust, again and again. Like at the hotel, independently from the fact that you actually paid for it, if there’s even the weakest wifi signal at the place you’re staying at, if you got working AC in your room, then again consider yourself fortunate. Gradually you learn or relearn to appreciate every tiny bit of comfort, anything you’re offered.
The measure of intelligence is the ability to adapt.

Now regarding the food, basically it’s kind of a constant love/hate thing. Sometimes you get lucky and the food’s amazing and the next day you wake up and you’d rather die than shoving one more grain of rice in your mouth. And let me tell you one thing, you have experienced nothing until you’ve had snake soup for breakfast several days in a row.

When traveling off the beaten path in Vietnam, at the restaurant, it is not uncommon to go and give them a hand in the kitchen. Then considering the fact that most restaurants do their dishes in a bucket directly on the sidewalk, right outside the restaurant, you better systematically wipe your bowl and chopsticks down prior eating if you don’t wanna get sick. Also you’ll get used to throw everything on the ground as they got no bins and it pretty much is the custom up here. Food leftover, cigarette butts, beer bottles and so on, it all ends up on the floor. It is there before you settle down, and will remain after you’re gone. Probably makes the cleaning easier after all.

Today we’re driving 200km. When I asked the driver how long would that take, suggesting a 3 to 4 hour drive counting large, he pissed herself laughing and said “nah, more like 8 or 9 hours without breaks”. What I didn’t take into account was the global condition of the roads around there that was just so bad that you just can’t go over 30kmph. To travel is to learn to let go. It is the ultimate learning that sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. To travel is to accept that you don’t control a thing and most likely the best option is to forget all you thought you knew and accept to be blindly guided through those foreign lands. If you don’t let the voyage destroy you a bit, you might as well just stay home.

“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I’ve seen.”
DSC07435

Many times in Asia I’ve had the feeling that I was travelling back in 1950. It is nothing pejorative though, this is just a comment. And during this trip more than ever, I misjudged many people. The worst-looking folks often proved to be some of the most interesting and the ones that I could quickly bound with almost always ended up getting on my nerves.

Because I yet have so many things to learn. I realize I’m only at the dawn of the discovery of the second part of the world; the third world countries. I find it fascinating to humbly compare Western and Oriental cultures and habits. Anywhere I been in Asia so far (outside the touristy areas), I could spend hours talking to a local that had no English at all and try and have some sort of a conversation nonetheless. Try and overcome the language barrier thanks to mimes, patience and creativity. Everyone smiles in the same language.
It is just ridiculous how different our two cultures are, and on so many levels. Though just as much as I’m a couple hundred percent positive that our two worlds are not made to be mixed with each other, I truly believe that we both yet have much to learn from each other.

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
DSC07573

And even though it is just mind-blowing how most places in Asia are loud, chaotic and polluted, if you wander off the beaten track you may very well find hidden gems. Once I ended up staying at a very basic campsite lost on a secluded beach. This was the most remote and inaccessible part of the island, matter of fact you could only get there by boat.

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

Well you know what, I felt like I was actually relaxed for the very first time in my life. No wifi, no shower, no phone signal, no amenities, nobody, no notion of time, no nothing. The ultimate calm and quiet. At long last, a proper vacation. No phone, no laptop, no watch, no digital screen of any sort, and no feeling of guilt whatsoever. Nothing to worry about, nothing to do but to chill out and explore the island, disconnected from this world for good for an entire week. Never ever have I felt anything like that before, such level of serenity and relaxation. Totally off the grid.
DSC06803No stress, no worries, no connection with the outside world at all. The time has stopped. The world out there may very well collapse you wouldn’t have a clue and that’s got to be the best feeling in the world. You know sometimes words fail.

“The greatest justification for travel is not self-improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace.”

When thinking about life, remember this; no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

Advertisements

LXXI/ Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you, and he needs money.”

I’m truly amazed at how long it took me to find out why some periods of my life just weren’t that great. It took me a long while to figure out that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, that it wasn’t my fault either, that I wasn’t just being depressed or not made for this world. It took me a while to find out that you were really either an urban or a rural kind of person.
Damn, all those years I’ve sorta wasted trying to fit in cities where altogether I could just never find my place, without ever understanding why. All those jobs I got behind front desks of crowded and noisy establishments… Gosh I’m so glad there was that voice inside my head that every now and then would whisper ‘keep on walking big guy, find your own path and follow it fearlessly. And never doubt yourself, you just haven’t found the right place for your talents yet.’

“Do not believe the things you tell yourself when you’re sad and alone.”

To work so much and so hard without ever getting any particular kind of recognition truly humbles you down over time. Another reason why I like it so much around here is probably also because I feel safe, my very only source of stress being to go shopping in town once a fortnight. Don’t get me wrong though, this ain’t no agoraphobia we’re talking about here, but probably just pure misanthropy again. All those noisy people running around in such unfriendly and overcrowded environments – as supermarkets may be – are just too numerous, too rushed, too stupid, too hectic, too loud, too much to handle… They’re just simply too disturbing to my peaceful life.

Damn, I realize all the best friends I made lately just hate people in general, and I’m pretty sure that’s precisely what got us close in the first place.
Because while this whole world is tumbling down from financial greed, superficiality and insanity – when I’m no longer sure where I fit in – those cows just calm my soul. A band-aid to my headaches.

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”

Because it’s a never-ending journey. I can visit the same place three times, and still find new things to see and do, all unrelated, which gives me the drive to continue on my travels.
Because no matter how much I travel, there will always be remote and untouched places that we barely know about, and they are often found in the shadow of the big well-known places, sitting there all unassuming, quiet, and beautiful. Sitting in the shadow of Queenstown, for instance, is nearby Glenorchy, which has so much more to offer, and no tourists. You know there are things that pictures just don’t show. Those are photos you take with your eyes.

Because even after all those years of on-the-road adventures, tales and stories, I still don’t wanna settle down. You know it’s always the same thing, as long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible. For if there was some sort of a perfect country somewhere, you’d stop traveling and that’d be tragic to your nomad heart.

“It’s so easy when you’re buried in something to feel like that is the only way of living, but when you get a glimpse of freedom, you can either choose to pursue it or go back to hide in your burial ground.”

Because it’s just so easy to live day to day down here.  That wanderer’s life where six months a year you get to live like every day is a Saturday, that priceless feeling that every day above ground is a great day. What gets you out of bed each morning is the belief that somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently. You know it’s not so much about the width, it’s about the depth.

“The mountains are calling, I must go.”

One of this year’s learning I’m most proud of is to have learned to relish the good moments as they occur, and no longer once they have passed me by. Sometimes, there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it’s now or never.
I’ve learned not to plan too far ahead. Spares you a great deal of time to live in the present you’ll see. I’ve learned that whatever comes up, the sooner you’ll have accepted it, the sooner you’ll have gotten over it.

Took me a while to figure out that just because people don’t do things your way – just because they don’t think and act like you, doesn’t necessarily mean they are morons. Nope Vincent, they aren’t all the kind of guys that could drown in ten inches of water, those guys just work differently. They’re just not wired the same way – which may seem like it is upside down to you at first glance – but remember, to them you are the weirdo.
I found out that – too often  –  there is an immense gap between what you’re told and what you wanna hear, and to remain aware of it at all times is most likely one of the most difficult things.

“The truth doesn’t care what your opinion is.”

Because I’m starting to realize that traveling is often only glamorous in retrospect. But if you look at it closely, so does life. What you’re up to now, who you’re hanging out with will only turn into something beautiful to tell in a couple years’ time. Anyway guys, thanks for the memories.
Write drunk. Edit sober.

Another year spent in the most remote lands, another year filled with much learning and realizations, another turning point of my life getting to an end. Only a couple weeks to go in NZ, just sold my van and got my tickets to Asia… I’d like it all to go on forever and ever just the way it is but you know, even the most beautiful day has its sunset.

“We’re only as good as the promises we keep.”

LXX/ It’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply

“There are people who would love to have your bad days.”

You wanna know what’s really bugging me lately? Well here it is; what you dislike in somebody’s behavior is evidently something you subconsciously dislike about yourself. [Here I invite you to take a break and think it through.] I hate to say but this is awfully true to life.
Also, I find it fascinating the tendency that we have to only see what we want to see in people we just met, this way of wanting at all costs to meet a certain type of person who meets our expectations, and so we picture that imaginary person and we do our best to make this new encounter fit into that mold we just completely made up, only it never lasts very long.

If you look at it closely, you’ll find out that we also do that with jobs, nights out, holidays and so on. But soon enough, reality catches up on us. Sooner or later we have to face the fact that we wanted to believe in it so bad that we got to a point where we kinda lied to ourselves for a while. Friendship, love, work and whatnot; by maintaining high expectations we always end up hurting ourselves. That person that just popped into our life isn’t the one you idealized; it’s just another human being  with its own qualities, but also its own flaws – which it took us a while to admit. You know, it’s both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

You know what, over time I’ve come to realize that my terrible need for justice combined together with the fact that I’m a goddamn perfectionist are the two major causes of all my struggles. I’m aware of it and yet I just can’t do fuck all about it. What do you want, you just can’t go against your nature I suppose. What I’m getting at is that the older I grow, the less fine souls I’m able to find on my way. Or maybe the great peeps of my life have made me too exigent over time, go figure. All I know is that finding someone you can really connect with is like winning the lottery – it happens basically never, but if it does, you really shouldn’t blow it.

“I don’t know how people can fake whole relationships. I can’t even fake a hello to somebody I don’t like.”

They say the most difficult challenge when you feel down is to not look back and get all melancholic. For I’ve done that a number of times, let me tell you one thing; nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they were. Sounds harsh, I know, but really that’s what it is. Comparison is the death of joy.

“I realized that I was holding on to something that didn’t exist anymore. That the person I missed doesn’t exist anymore. ”

Some memories are better off untouched. Plunging yourself back into the beautiful memories of your past thinking that it would be great to give it a go and relive those moments again is like trying to fall back asleep after having been awakened too soon – interrupted right in the middle of the sweetest dream. Let’s face it, it doesn’t work that way.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Sometimes the best way to prove someone that he’s wrong is to let him continue his path. For I’ve been there, telling someone to grow up won’t make him grow an inch. Only experience will. What do you want, seems like the exclusively-weather-oriented-conversations kind of people is blossoming.

I read a good one the other day; “Long time ago, people who sacrificed their sleep, family, food, laughter and other joys of life were called saints. Now they are called hoteliers.”
For what it’s worth, when I look back, I feel like I always knew where I was meant to end up. The other day I had a read through my writings from the past years and every now and again there were clues all along my path. Those four years working in the hospitality industry have been useful in the way that they consumed every last bit of patience I ever had to chase me away from busy spots for good, gradually orienting me towards open spaces. The true courage sometimes is to choose.

“Life is like an embroidery, you spend half of your life on the front side, the pretty side of the embroidery. But you spend the second half on the other side. It’s not as pretty but you can see how the threads are woven together and you can see how it’s made.”

There are moments that seemed so unimportant, so meaningless at the time they occurred, but for some reason, looking back today they mean the world to you. It may have been like years ago – perhaps decades even – in some cases you’ll find that you can still perfectly remember every detail of a certain event, every last word of a conversation, every other freckle on her shoulder. I guess it’s hard to know what the important days are.

It’s kinda hard to put words on it, but it truly seems like these days I see everything under a different angle. And when I look back on the turning points of my life, I now understand why this turned to shit and why that has been uplifting. I have changed, and there’s just no point to deny it any longer.

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.”

LXIX/ Honor the space between no longer and not yet

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

These days I realize why peace can be such a fragile thing in a world filled for most with creatures driven by selfishness, ignorance and carelessness. You know there are a number of conflicts where both sides are wrong. Sometimes you’ll even see conflicts where one side isn’t even aware that there is one.
The point is that they can steal all they like from you, they’ll never rob your ability to start things over. Of all kinds of fights I can chose from, I’ll always pick the flight forward.

Although you should know that it’s okay to be selfish. To a certain extent, especially if it’s your happiness that is on the line. You should be doing things today that make you happy and contented rather than sad and annoyed. Sometimes you just gotta tell everyone off and start doing something good for yourself. Quit trying to be complete, qui trying to be perfect. Try and aim for inner peace and serenity instead.

“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”

Because I love what I do for a job, I just adore to get ready for work every morning – my little ritual – put all my gear on, check the weather , stick my arm through the window to feel the temperature, hang my knife and my pliers on my belt… Yes, it is an art form in itself to get into that cowboy spirit each and every morning.
Shit, wasn’t that just me starting to love routine?!
Whatever man… These days I’m restless like never before, I’m everything and its opposite, I have an overflow of energy flowing through my veins and, damn, that’s good to feel so alive and kicking again.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Because matter of fact, I got no more major problems since I adopted this new lifestyle, I embrace serenity and freedom. Most of my thoughts being absorbed by the good feeling that there’s always more to learn with that job. I think I realized I had become a proper cowboy the day I started to mechanically stub out my cigarettes with my bare fingers without feeling a thing.

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”

Because to the least once a day, I tell myself that I love what I do, because I feel pride when I sit on my tractor with my earmuffs on, protecting me from that noisy world around. Because I’m being a great friend to myself these days. To think that three months ago I knew nothing at all about this job and after all that hard work I put on, after all that sweat, all those sacrifices, all those long hours, all those scars on my body, all that perseverance, all those 12 day-in-a-row weeks, I just got promoted to qualified farmer. The title, the much better daily tasks, and the salary bump that goes along with it. I’m not gonna lie, I’m awfully pride for I truly earned it, I genuinely fought hard for it. I gave nothing away and I made no concessions to achieve that goal. To be frank, I don’t remember the last time I ever fought so hard for anything in my life. Keep going. Each step may get harder, but don’t stop. The view is beautiful at the top.

Ultimately what matters most is how well you walk through the fire. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

I feel like now that I found my dream job and got good at it, I can at last make time to focus on other things. For some reason there’s that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing that just popped up in my head. Remember? That pyramid that goes from the most fundamental levels of needs at the base (physiological, safety…) to the need for self-actualization at the very top. I have to say, at the moment I feel like I reached the top probably for the first time in my life. Instead of just chilling like everybody else on my very rare days off after a looong work’s period, I now take “very demanding” hikes in the mountains by myself, hours away from my place. The kind of things that the old me from just a couple years(/months?) ago would have never really done spontaneously.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way we can grow is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we are exposed is if we throw ourselves into the open.”

You should know that if you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it. Strength comes from struggle. When you learn to see your struggles as opportunities to become stronger, better, wiser, then your thinking shifts from “I can’t do this” to “I must do this.”

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

What struck me those days is that since I know who I am, what I want, where I’m at and where I’m headed, I just don’t need anyone anymore. They say everybody in your life is there to teach you something. I guess you just don’t need anybody once you are whole, once you don’t really need any more answers. Shit, that’s such an odd realization. All I need to be happy these days is my peace and quiet.

Another thing I’m more and more aware of is how pretty madly obsessed with time I’ve become. My greatest daily struggle is to make sure that nobody steals a minute of my precious time. I feel like what I do with my time is mine to decide and mine only. I’m aware that I may be taking it a little too seriously but what do you want, time is such a valuable thing, if not the most valuable thing of all. Because you can sell your time but you cannot buy it back again… Now just take a minute, sit back and think this through.
Life itself is a time bomb, and this is nothing new. Tic tic tic… Thank you for granting me some precious minutes of your time.

“Let me be granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I’m not heartless. I just learned to use my heart less. My beard has never been so long and so does my hair. Gosh, I’m turning into an antisocial bear and I’m aware of it. Well in fact, despite every misanthropist thing I can write, I’ll have you know that I’m not anti-social, I’m anti-idiots. Only issue is that I consider the world to be filled with a good 80% of those creatures, no wonder why the slim 20% leftover tend to blow a gasket and close in on themselves.
I truly wish I was wise enough not to care about them at all, but I just haven’t reached that stage yet I guess and it feels like it’s not gonna happen anytime soon. I found it kinda funny when I found out that one of my dearest friends is a smart misanthropist that has given up on the idea of killing everybody else on the planet when his rational brains sadly reminded him that an entire life wouldn’t suffice to take them all down. This one I could have thought of myself.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

To live in the countryside truly is the best kept secret to happiness. And it must remain a secret for if all those urban sheep were to find out, there simply wouldn’t be enough space for us all to blossom out here. Some people are just so far behind in the race that they think they’re leading. And as Aristotle said “whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” Last time I checked, I was still an atheist. Antisocial bear, is that you I see in the mirror?

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting. ”

All my life I’ve always hated to be called ‘young man’, I always found that kinda degrading and perhaps also slightly irritating. But to tell you the truth, now that i’m getting called ‘sir’, I wonder whether that does not freak me out even more. Jeez, be kind, just don’t call me at all, ok?

But for now, I just won’t let anyone wake me from this sweet dream; turning 25 was by far the best thing that has happened to me in ages. I matured so much I barely recognize myself and I’m purely and solely breathing happiness. I’m grateful for I sincerely couldn’t have dreamed of a better 5 years to begin my twenties with. Go me.

“When I was 7 I wanted to be 8. When I was 8 I wanted to be 12. When I turned 12 I just wanted to be 18. Then after that I stopped wanting to be older. Now I’m ticking 16-24 boxes just to see if I can blag it! I feel like I’ve spent my whole life so far wishing it away. Always wishing I was older, wishing I could remember and wishing I could forget too. Wishing I’d gotten to know my grandparents more, wishing I’d waited and wishing I’d hurried up as well.
Today I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done. Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk. I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back. When I was in it I wanted out! So typical. I’m on about being a teenager, sitting around and chatting shit, not caring about the future because it didn’t matter then like it does now. The ability to be flippant about everything and there be no consequences. Even following and breaking rules … is better than making the rules. 25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realizing. And I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.”

‘Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my 20s.’ Damn, Adele, you took the words right out of my mouth..! So yes, your banking fees are gonna rise up – yes – you have become a man with responsibilities and from now on you are expected to behave as such – and yes – a third of your life is behind you now. But let’s look into the bright side here; car rental companies are gonna love you now! No more stupid young driver fees, ever. If that’s not a resounding call for more adventures I’m not sure what it is! And just between us, two third to go is always better than just one.

“A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset. When you wake up, take a second to think about what a privilege it is to simply be alive and healthy. The moment you start acting like life’s a blessing, I assure you it will start to feel like one. Time spent appreciating is time worth living.”

I wish you’re alright wherever you are and I wish you find your own path to happiness one day. I wish you find love and beautiful souls to connect with. I hope you never let the pessimistic ones drag you down. I hope you never cease to ask questions and I sincerely hope you fight hard for what you believe is right. I truly hope you never lose sight of that fierce adventurer you once believed you were back in the day. I wish you never run out of dreams, wild dreams with plenty of space to grow into them.
I wish you turn 25 the way I did.

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

LXVIII/ Don’t be sorry

Happiness is waking up each and every morning around 5am – fifteen minutes prior your alarm goes off, looking forward to go to work. And frankly, I’m grateful for I don’t think I ever felt that… ever.

I’m so glad I finally found a job that suits me, a job that I find to be truly fulfilling for it feels healthy both for my mind and body. Working outdoors with animals truly makes a difference; “it’s another kind of calm.” Those cows and calves bring a great deal of daily mishaps, thanks to them no day is like another and believe me, despite what we all unconsciously think of them, those animals do have a soul and they will never cease to surprise you. Animals have that little extra thing that us – humans – are devoid of and I truly believe that we have so much to learn from them. Them – mute animals that the human kind tends to despise.

I also love the fact that your whole body feels good after a good day’s work and most particularly the fact that you don’t take anything home with you. My career in the hospitality industry is behind me for good now and every day it gets more and more obvious that there’s just no turning back. When I think of it, these two jobs are quite the exact opposite.
Don’t get me wrong though, don’t get the wrong idea that the job is easy every day. You bleed, you stink, you break bones… Though every morning I show up on time, begging for more.

Just like now for instance, the only reason why I have some spare time to write is because I fell off a motorbike the other day and wrecked my knee. I only got three days off work to recover and I already miss work quite a lot. And here I am, spending my spare time in the paddock that’s right outside my house playing with the calves, just for the fun of it… Must really love it I guess.
I feel like I’m becoming a man here, not that I wasn’t one before but I don’t know, I guess I just feel like I’m on my way. The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them. Better than just a man in fact, I’m turning into a cowboy. At long last I’m in tune with my morals and values, in total harmony with myself. Because it is much more than a simple job, it’s a lifestyle. Seems like another season of my life just started, and I’m glad I found my own happy place.

The ecstasy that nature, open spaces and simple things may provide you. I love those little cows of ours a bit more each day. I find it great that nobody’s every rushing you; you get assigned a job and it’ll take the time that it’ll take. The only goal is to get it done. “Time isn’t something you get, it’s something you make.” I bloody love to spend my whole day out in the meadows, by myself, doing my own stuff, without having to deal with anyone. I truly love this solitude, this unique chance you get to detach yourself from society. The more it goes, the more I understand why the words ‘lonely’ and ‘cowboy’ go so well together.

“Loneliness is dangerous. It’s addicting. Once you see how peaceful it is, you don’t wanna deal with people.”

The more it goes, the more I’m amazed at how many people I actually don’t get along with. It struck me those days that the more I know what I’m doing with my life, the more I know what I want, the less individuals I’m able to tolerate in my immediate environment. I know I don’t please everyone, but when I see who I do not please, I wonder whether I truly give much of a fuck. Because I can only relate to people with morals, I fancy passionate folks, dreamers and go-getters. And sadly those people are an endangered species.

Damn when I look back and see me a couple years ago as the party guy that was getting along with everyone… What happened to me? Though it is obvious to me that I’m much better off with fewer but better quality friendships.

“Don’t mistake the truth and the majority’s opinion.”

Talking about “how great human beings my co-workers are”; my immature housemate has managed to set my house on fire last weekend, the only weekend I was away. She left her hair straighteners on on her bedroom’s floor. Luckily her boyfriend came by to pick up something a couple minutes later and managed to put the fire out as he could. Lucky we are that he came by early enough so only a part of her bedroom has burned down. My room being right next door, I guess that a few minutes more would have been enough for me to lose it all again… Couldn’t have been through all that again, not once more! What’s cool is that now the whole house smells like melted plastic, the fact that the front door’s been fractured and won’t get fixed and that the whole house is covered in black greasy debris. You’d think that the very least she would do to make it up to us for almost having burned all of our lives down would be for her to clean it all up?? Nope. Big mistake. This is on us. No wonder why I feel like I’m just too old for shared houses.

“You do not solve problems with those who have caused them.”

It also struck me that you can’t have it all in life, there will always be at least a “gauge” that’ll be lower than the others. Work, love, friendships, overall happiness, creativity, global mood… It is impossible to have it all at once. Truth is, it actually happens sometimes but I find these moments of life more freaky than enjoyable because with enough wisdom you’ll know that it only means that something’s about to fall out. Just can’t have it all, better learn to live with that. But looking twice, life would be just a hell of a bore if we could just keep it all up now wouldn’t it??

Another birthday and instead of getting to what they call a quarter-life crisis, me, I’m just going through the greatest things and I’ve never been so well and fulfilled in my entire life. I carry on fighting my way up every day at work and all those efforts are eventually starting to pay off. If you ask me, ain’t nothing like the feeling to finally earn something you’ve been working your ass off for.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if there wouldn’t have been all that traveling that got me where I am now… and then I just regain consciousness and forget about it.
Latest learning; never get your hopes up, always assume the worst case scenario. Expect nothing, get everything.

“We’re all a little stronger in the broken places.”

LXVII/ Travel far enough, you meet yourself

“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”

‘Seems to me if you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards.’ So I heard along the road once from a young farmer that hosted me. It started to make sense a few weeks back – as hospitality had ended up to drive me completely crazy and as I felt like it was time for me to quit that industry once and for all and move on – I decided to take the plunge and try out something new that I had always wanted to experience; work at a farm. So it’s been a month now that I’m working as a dairy farmer assistant, say modern times cowboy..!

It’s funny because initially I was just doing that just to make some money real quick (looooong hours = fast cash) but also out of curiosity, just to have an overview on what those jobs could be like, I mean who never thought of just leaving everything behind and get back to a simpler life working on a farm? Well here I am now, turns out i love it! I wouldn’t say that I found my way but kinda. I mean I love the fact that there’s no more fucking stupid customer relationship to handle, no more stress at all, the fact that everyone around here is much more of a grown-up that the average people you meet in the cities and working outdoors is just so priceless, especially at that location – NZ South Island, stuck between the ocean and the mountains, one of the spots where they shot some of the Lord of the Rings.

Though let’s say it; it’s real hard work we’re talking about right here and you better no fear shit, literally. You start your shift long before sunrise and only head home once the sun has set. You work an average of 12 hours a day, every day, 12 days in a row, and then you eventually get 2 days off. Let’s face it, it is definitely the most manly job I’ve ever done, never been so fit in my entire life!
You spend your day covered in cow shit, you milk about 1,300 cows twice a day, you get to ride all kind of bikes, tractors and whatnot and all that along with the radio blasting old school rock ‘n’ roll tracks all day long in the background… Real cowboy vibe if you ask me! Legen-dairy..!

“Nothing lasts forever. So live it up, drink it down, laugh it out, avoid the bullshit, take chances, and never have regrets. The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.”

On the bright side, no more stress, no more hypocrisy, no more despise and again, no more stupid customers to deal with. AMEN. The agricultural world is a place where honesty and sincerity rule. You hurt yourself, you get upset, something pisses you off; you swear it all out instantly. Something is wrong, you suck, someone doesn’t like you, they’ll say so. You’re not sure how to do something, someone’s gonna teach you patiently so you can do it by yourself the next time. A world where everything is rational, logical. Everything has its reason to be the way it is and everything makes sense, just the way I like it. A world where ‘laziness’ is a banned word, a world where not everything has a price tag. True people and true relations.

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones. A smart person knows what to say, a wise person knows whether or not to say it.”

You get loads of time to turn things over in your head out in the paddocks but you wind up getting better thoughts as you’re outdoors all day whether it’s sunny, rainy, windy or snowy. Yes, it is quite a manly job – a couple worlds away from those hypocrite white shirts and ties. In fact, it’s pretty much day and night when compared with the hospitality industry.

You get to ride all kind of bikes, trucks and tractors, you move hundreds of cows at once over kilometers all by yourself on your bike, only using your voice to command them. Again, you also spend your daily twelve hours covered in cow shit. After a couple days getting kicked by animals, getting wounded and burned for all sort of reasons, your hands turn into rocks and soon enough, cutting your hand open or jumping head first into the manure pit becomes routine. Gradually you learn to dodge the kicks and your skin turns into some sort of a shell, then the job gets more and more easy to handle and even pleasant when you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it for.

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

And let me tell you one thing, cow shit is much easier to handle than human bullshit. As it’s always been the case to me, hell is the others and working by myself as a modern time cowboy is bliss for an old misanthropist like me. The company of the cows is enough for me along with that infinite green space. Matter of fact, I spend my days talking to them cows. Not that I’m telling them about my life or anything but you know, just like you tell them what you want them to do, how, why (…) and fairly soon, despite their great number, you’ll begin to be able to identify and even bond with some of them. And before you know it you’ll enjoy their company better than your few colleagues.

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live.”

Many new skills gained and a whole lot of new learning so far. Always start with the shitiest, work before leisure. Tomorrow’s always gonna be better and easier – the best is always yet to come. Ain’t nothing your body likes better than routine. Ain’t nothing like your after work shower.

Along my travels, when I would have to face a dilemma, most commonly something like having to pick between ‘checking out that place I’ve been told about that is about a four hour drive away from here’ or [the lazy option], I would just try and motivate me by sitting down a minute and just ask myself; “at the end of the day, what will you rather wanna remember having done?”
It’s funny because over time, I’ve come to realize that if you replace ‘at the end of the day’ by ‘at the end of your life’, you can use that technique for pretty much any kind of decision you’ve got to make through your life. And you bet your ass that “hanging on to your cozy and safe little life loaded with money and comfort” won’t stand as a thing you truly wanna remember.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

I could only notice that all those people I came across that decided to live simpler lives were simply much happier and had much healthier relationships with their relatives and surroundings.
And ever since I joined that community, I feel like I’m in tune with myself. ‘I’m at peace with my god.’

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

For some reason I often hear Gandhi’s voice in my mind that keeps bringing up “be the change you wanna see in the world” over and over again and it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing.
There is only one principle in life. Only one. This is to always remember – under any circumstances – the difference between what you can accept and what you have to refuse. Everything else doesn’t matter. Everything comes naturally to those who know how to refuse to do what – deep inside – outrages them. And I don’t have much time for people’s bullshit anymore.

“We made a conscious choice. We chose time over money.”

Almost a year that I set off for that adventure that I’m currently living, more than 5 years that I travel the world already. One of my greatest learning is that nothing lasts forever. Pain and troubles included.
Besides it made me realize that no matter which path you take, there is no wrong direction when exploring this world. Because you get the opportunity to seek the unexpected. Life is no accident.

“Every person that passes through our lives is unique. They will always leave a bit of themselves and take a bit of ourselves away. There will be those who will take a lot, but there won’t be those who will not leave anything.”

LXVI/ Measure your wealth by how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money

“Common sense is not a gift, it’s a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone who doesn’t have it.”

Here we are, back on the open road, wind in our hair, feeling part of everywhere. So footloose, so many places, so free, so many new laughters, so far away and yet still unable to quench this thirst for adventure despite a number of sneaky strokes of fate. Though I have the feeling that we wouldn’t feel so cheerful today if we hadn’t ran into all that mess a few days back…

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

The last time that I read that quote from Paulo Coelho there was absolutely nothing but hard and annoying work going on in my life. Today I read it again as I’m just done with what has been by far the most stressful, costly and messed up week of the year – if not decade – and the least I can say is that I see it in a different light.

Long story short, it all started precisely a week ago when we decided to head over to East Cape – one of the most remote, hence least touristy spot in New Zealand. The aim of the trip was to drive out there, camp out and get up at 5am to be the first persons on Earth that Friday 26 June of 2015 to catch the sunrise from that edge of the world, precisely where the sun technically rises first on any given day of the year. Only to get a few hundred meters away from the lighthouse at the end of the dirt road a few minutes before sunrise and helplessly assist to the tragic end of our van that just fatally broke down for good between my hands out there, in the middle of nowhere. All by ourselves, struck by destiny, about 200 kms away from the first town at 5.30 in the morning. Obviously no signal, no one around and all of our lives at the back of the van, much more than we could carry. At the spur of the moment we were in such frame of mind that we decided to leave that desperate situation aside, grab our camping chairs out of the boot and finish the road on foot to gaze upon what turned out to be one of the most gorgeous sunrises.

Here starts one of the longest and most tiring days I had been through in years. From disappointment to disappointment, it all quickly turned into the worst clusterfuck I ever known. I could tell you all about it but quite frankly I’d rather write a book about it someday instead. Between the lower front body of our car that came out as we were trying to chain tow our car, the beyond epic mechanics that confirmed Lucinda’s death laughing at us, the hours of stress towing our car on narrow mountain roads with a rope that broke twice during the process, the realization that we lost everything in a blink – you most definitely wouldn’t believe how much shit we’ve been through from dawn to dusk that day. And this was just the first day of the week. Later on a local told us that “it was most likely the worst spot ever to get stuck at”. Right-O.

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life. I know that we shall meet problems along the way, but I’d far rather see for myself what’s going on in the world outside, than rely on newspapers, television, politicians and religious leaders to tell me what I should be thinking. I had to let it happen, I had to change. Couldn’t stay all my life down at heel looking out of the window, staying out of the sun. So I chose freedom, running around, trying everything new. Not all those who wander are lost.”

‘I know that we shall meet problems along the way but…’ That one part of my quote went through my mind so many times over and over again that week, like my brains trying to cheer me up or simply a gentle reminder that I only got what I wanted. That, one day, I made the tough call to leave everything behind and jump head first into a nomad life – aware that I was also putting behind all kind of comfort, steadiness and all sense of security that I ever had. That day I jumped out of my comfort zone, that day I intentionally jumped into the void. That day they call ‘the first day of the rest of your life’.
In about a month time, I’ll celebrate my 5th anniversary on the road, 5 years of wandering around the globe. Indisputably my best 5 years so far on the clock. And between us, every now and then – over some of those nights where ‘no wine is innocent’ as you find yourself getting randomly drunk without you even noticed you had a cup in your hand – I often wonder whether anything at all ever happened prior to all that.

To get back to our story, amongst many others, three of our major issues at that point were 1/ how to legally get rid of our car wreck that is located in such shit-hole that no company would even accept our money to go pick it up and keep it to themselves for scraps FOR FREE? 2/ we NEED to find another one ASAP so we don’t have to depend on others and be begging for help all over the place. 3/ where we gonna sleep tonight and how to get around with all our stuff??

Our main objective was to regain our priceless freedom as soon as possible as losing it the day we lost our van (considered both as our means of transport and our home) felt a lot like a major violation. Looking back now, what happened out there is pretty much the worst scenario that could have happened to us at that stage. And still, I’m here today to write about it. Much loss on many levels, loads of important instant decisions had to be made; it’s been tough, I can’t deny that. Nonetheless, beside those new scars, I also gained much wisdom and knowledge through that misfortune – and I’m not only talking about auto mechanic knowledge here. At the end of the day, all I lost was money. And even if it’s a fair load of savings we’re talking about here, what is money when you’re in good health? Sounds cheesy and hippy but screw it, I wish I could see you try and overcome such hopeless situation.

“I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more.”

When I take stock on what happened to us, I find it to be pretty metaphorical in a way. All those years I traveled this world as a hitch hiker, as an opportunist, as a train rider and whatnot but always without ever possessing anything, neither a vehicle or a roof over my head being my own. For the very first time I made the call to buy my own van so I would make my life much easier both for mobility and private shelter. The dream had come true. Only destiny decided otherwise. It decided to take that away from me in the worst moment and place you can ever think of. Maybe I was just no meant for the easy way, maybe I just needed to be taught a lesson. Maybe I just needed to be reminded that beyond all the money you may spend in acquiring any kind of goods, the hand of fate gives and takes back with or without your consent. Money is just money, things are just things. It all comes to down to the simple fact that the least one possess, the more trouble-free one is. Over the course of your life there’ll be moments when you’ll have money, moments when you’ll have none, moments when you’ll be surrounded by precious friends, moments of despair. But eh, if there are no ups and downs in your life, it means you’re dead.

“Measure your wealth by how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”

I learned that sometimes you have no other choice than to rely and lean on other people and it’s good to be remembered how good some men still are when you’re up against the wall. I learned to say yes instead of no, and how much more rewarding that is.
Nothing is insurmountable; there are only befores and afters. Some decisions you’re forced to make imply burning certain bridges and then moving forward become your only option. Sometimes there’s just no turning back. Only turning points and one way streets.
That kind of events only makes you remember how small you actually are, and it makes you find serenity in the fact that you can’t control anything. And then you let go. It reminds me to enjoy this moment, because all of life is temporary. Because traveling itself is an abounding source of inspiration that you experience and feel, but do not own.

“On your journey to your dream, be ready to face oasis and deserts. In both cases, don’t stop.”

I learned to take it one thing at a time and to not anticipate so much so I could leave more room to the unexpected and improvisation. I learned that there was no need to be so harsh on yourself, fate already takes care of that. I learned that sometimes, when you leave your problems alone for a while, they just sort themselves out – or at least they won’t grow. Whereas some opportunities might never show up again if you don’t seize them as they pass you by.
Because the world is huge. No matter how long you spend traveling and exploring, you will never run out of new things to see and learn. Because the world is filled with beautiful landscapes, positive people, and interesting cultures. Of course there are rough days, but the good almost always outweighs the bad. Because I’ll never find the end of it.

“For everything the trail taught me and everything I could not yet know.”

LXV/ Every day is an opportunity you don’t get back

I guess you start to age the first time you help a fellow traveler out because “you remind me of me, in my younger days…” Or maybe you’ve just reached a certain level of expertise in the world of travel?

Damn… When I have a look through my photos from Canada… I swear I get goose bumps. Yet it can only comfort me in the nomadic lifestyle I chose for myself. Work hard and have no life for about six to eight months a year, get the other half of the year all to yourself. I don’t know any other way to get as much spare time to dedicate to my one true passion.

“I reject the idea of a 9–5 job. I want to explore the world while the sun is out instead of wasting the daylight hours working inside and dreaming of my next vacation.
I reject the idea of settling down. I want to experience new cultures and eat new foods instead of being stuck in the neighborhood around my house.
I reject the idea of stuff. It’s not the size of my TV that matters. The world is much more interesting than what’s in my house.
I reject the idea of boredom. I’m constantly surrounded by new places, people and experiences. I haven’t felt bored since I started traveling and I don’t even have the desire to watch TV or play video games anymore.
I reject the idea of a bucket list. I have a list of things to do and I’m doing them.”

Been working in a kiwi pack house for a couple months now. Over there I’m “inmate #155”, so says my hi-vis vest. Stacker; one of the shitiest job I’ve ever been offered to do. Basically there are a few dozen of burly pacific islanders stacking heavy ass kiwi boxes on one another all night long and then there’s me, trying to blend in. I remember having sore finger muscles on the first weeks I was working there, you know, those muscles you never even knew of…

From that highly uninteresting job – and due to the too numerous hours I’ve been stuck there – many new thoughts have seen the light.
What’s gonna be my next big time adventure? What long-term job should I be orienting myself towards? How much longer can I be a nomad for? All those questions going on and on in my mind…

Once upon a time, work was something you did in order to finance the rest of your life. It was a truly dull moment that you had to endure for eight hours a day, five days a week for 40 years to pay off your drinks, your drugs, your Christmas gifts, your food and a funeral worthy of the name. Work was work, leisure was leisure, life was: life.

These days the boundaries appear to be blurred. Some people no longer work in order to finance whatever their heart pumps for and there’s a pretty obvious reason to that; they work so many hours that they no longer have a life on the side. Their colleagues are their only friends and work is pretty much all they talk about. Here I’m not even talking about those who work for work’s sake – no – this is about those who’d almost feel guilty for having a passion other than their job.

And even though I have it good the way I live, I’m still prone to stress and overthinking. I’ve come to realize that I put so much effort into the organization of my life that when I reach my goals sometimes I just take it all for granted right away without even taking time to properly celebrate my success.
Too much planning ahead and that perpetual need for control is the exact cause of your inability to access happiness in the present moment.

“Don’t look at the money that comes and goes as the bird, look at the days for they go and never return.”

Living in the present is the response that arose after having spent the season wondering about the future. Everything happens for a reason – and even i seem to forget about that every now and then. No need and absolutely no time to worry about all that because I know that one day, everything I’m currently doing will pay off. It’s all about making peace with yourself.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

Sounds like the stars have aligned and no matter what comes up I know I’m safe as I can always rely on my superpower if needed; to vanish in thin air and start a millionth life from scratch again – under a new and different sun. Travel doesn’t always need to be some far away place, it just has to be somewhere where you can go to unwind and escape from the dreary routines we are all guilty of having. Because no matter where we go we take ourselves and our damage with us. So is home the place we run to, or is it the place we run from?

They say you only live once but in fact you only die once, you live every day. And every day is an opportunity you don’t get back. I’m alive, free and well. Independent like never before, I find it to be a luxury to be able to find a new person you trust enough to tell your secrets to, every time you feel the need to. So despite what modern society is trying to drown me in, I still get high on my own adventures and I’m still as wanderlust as the first time I boarded a plane with no return ticket. I’m my own shrink, and writing is my therapy.

“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”

One day I’ll write “by the age of 25, I was completing my second round the world trip.” I’m proud of myself for I made the right decisions.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

LXIV/ It’s not what you find, it’s what you find out

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

I’ve traveled enough to know that there is no coincidence whatsoever in life. Everyone’s here to teach you something, even the worst people – mostly the worst people in fact.

I’ve learned that it’s alright not to feel someone. Don’t force it. What’s meant to happen happens and you always meet who you’re supposed to meet. Life ain’t a coincidence. I’ve learned that you can’t force people to get along with one another – you can’t and you actually shouldn’t try to force any friendship. No need to go against your nature. It’s okay not to be on the same wavelength, we don’t get to choose our feelings.

I believe that there actually is some clearance work we all should do in our lives; by clearance I mean getting rid of all the toxic people that surround us – and believe me they are quite numerous. All those people that make you feel guilty for them, uncomfortable, worried, awkward, embarrassed – or just those that take you hostage in any kind of way, as insignificantly as it may seem. I say fuck them. I say I don’t need those parasites just as I don’t need their own misery in my life. I have enough of myself to take care of. Might sound egocentric or so but quite frankly, why would I take care of you if you’re not even being particularly nice to me in the first place? All in all it’s just like in airplanes; “secure your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others”. Don’t blame me for you made poor life decisions, this could only reinforce the fact that you deserve the shit you pull yourself into.

I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are still responsible for who we become. I’ve learned that maturity had more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated. I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe in.

“You can’t keep on doing the same things and expect a different result.”

Got to a point where I can’t take people I don’t connect with anymore. They can live the way they want – I don’t care – but away from me please. I’m tired to take their stupidity upon myself and I’m not ashamed to say it out loud.
And I know I’m right for all along the way I’ve proven myself like a million times that I’d always eventually find some fine souls to bond with no matter where I’d go, the problem’s not coming from me I know that. I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry.

It’s funny how when you’re younger your major concern is to try and be friend with everybody, to please everyone, fit in and be accepted. As you age you become more inflexible up front with people in general, you just don’t leave anyone a chance to bother you from day one and it’s great to realize that this kind of abusive folks tend to not try you again as they haven’t detected a social weakness in you the first time they tried. It’s kinda making some upstream work with all the potential toxic people around. Believe me it’s much more efficient than being kind to everyone, endure their shit instead of them, get stuck and wind up paying for their mistakes. I ain’t no social worker, thank you goodbye.

I’ve learned that just a smile can make a huge difference. I’ve learned that real connections can’t be planned but always end up emerging every now and then. The best people are those you can hang out with without feeling a particular need to talk through the whole time; sharing a moment of silence is just as good as a chat, if not more meaningful. As paradoxical as it may sound, your best friends are the ones it’s okay to be with without talking – and they’re pretty rare if you ask me.
I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved, the rest is up to them.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

The second major thing that struck my attention those days was the realization that I have a Type A personality. To be fair, up until a few weeks ago I never heard anything about the Type A Vs Type B personalities. When it caught my attention and as I started to do some research, it all suddenly clicked. Everything fell into place. After years and years of mysteries and questioning – at last – it felt like i had at least a partial answer to my recurrent inability to figure my fellow human beings behavior out. But let me try to clear this all up.

It all goes down to the fact that there are two personality types of people: Type A and Type B.
Those assimilated to a Type A personality are those that are more driven, more focused, more goal-oriented, more diligent, more likely to get stressed and emotional, more likely to have heart attacks and more likely to have mental breakdowns. To think we started out with such good traits…
The other group includes, well, everybody else. Those grouped mostly towards Type B aren’t as driven or goal-oriented, are more laidback and more careless.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying that some kind is better than the other one, this is not the point. There are definitely benefits to both types. Besides they both need each other in a way – one to learn to let go and blow off some steam and the other one just to allow them to be living in a world that goes round.

Just so you understand better, here’s a list of typical Type A behaviors found on the internet that I couldn’t agree more with;

1. They always have a to-do list — a never-ending one. Sometimes it feels like life itself is a to-do list.

2. They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like a moron?

3. Doing things efficiently is their first priority. As little time spent getting as much quality work done as humanly possible? If you just got a hard-on, then you’re a Type A personality.

4. They have several alarms set throughout the day so they always stay on top of things. They wish they could remember it all in order to save time but so be it, better safe than sorry.

5. They don’t understand the concept of not being capable of doing something. To them, if something can physically be done, then why would they not be capable of doing it? If they need to learn something, they will.

6. They understand that laziness is a choice. Most people talk about laziness as if it was some sort of disease. Type A’s look at such people as idiots. Laziness isn’t more of a disease than is ignorance.

7. They often become passionate. If they are going to do something, then they are going to do something they believe to be meaningful. If it’s meaningful to them, then it deserves their fullest attention; passion is inevitable.

8. …But not always for too long. Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.

9. They’re prone to stressing. Put simply, they worry a lot. They do their best to see into the future and can’t shake the fact that things can always go wrong. Plus, being as passionate as they are makes them dread that ever possible and looming, crappy outcome.

10. They don’t procrastinate. They hate the idea of wasting time so they do things the moment they come to mind. Why wait and do it later when you can just do it now?

11. They’re perfectionists. It’s not that they are trying to be perfect, but blemishes, mistakes and inconsistencies frustrate them. They find them ugly and appalling, not being able to allow them to pass their inspection. If they could, they would – but they simply can’t.

12. They love sleeping, but have trouble stopping their thoughts from racing. It’s not easy to fall asleep when your mind just keeps on running through thoughts and images. Stopping them is no easy task.

13. They make plans, lots of plans. If you want to achieve something, then Type A’s only find it logical that you should know how to get there. So they make plans.

14. Always having a plan for the worst-case scenario is a necessity. What’s the worst possible thing that you can possibly imagine happening to you? You losing your job? Your pet Pooky getting run over by a car? Cancer? Armageddon? Yup, they have a plan for that.

15. They love solving problems and believe there is always a solution. They believe the world to work in a logical manner – minus the illogical creatures that live in it – and therefore, believe that there must always be a solution for every problem.

It’s funny because so far I’ve always said that there definitely were two types of individuals on earth; the rational-reasonable-goal oriented ones and the random-messy-slow-disorganized-wtf ones. To think that I ignored that Type A and Type B classification…

I’ve learned that I have a Type A personality and – just as much as I love them – I tend to lose my shit when there are too many Types Bs around me. I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

Never apologize for what you feel, it’s like saying sorry for being real.

LXIII/ All those things they say in the books you haven’t read

“If you want to know what god thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

And some day you wake up and 4 months have gone by… Four months that I’m exploring and loving North America and it’s time to leave now. From Montreal to the deserts of Arizona through Alaska… Wow, even I don’t really realize how sick this is..!
But all good traveler knows that a journey is best measured in friends rather than miles and boy – what a ride! This trip wouldn’t have been the same without CouchSurfing – not even close. I feel so thankful for every one of you that hosted me all along the way. Greatly thankful for you have shared that slice of life with me and for you have brought so much joy upon my journey – my journey of a lifetime. From the remote log cabins in the Far North to the sultry deserts of Death Valley – I genuinely can’t think of any minute I haven’t felt home anywhere I found myself.

It’s crazy to look back and realize how much this adventure has changed me, how much better of a person I am now thanks to you all. It’s insane how much my vision of the world has been reshaped over and over again within just a few months… I’m just amazed at how much better life tastes now. Intense. Yes – in case I had to only pick one – ‘intense’ would probably be the right word .

On the road I heard the story of a Japanese lad that was hitchhiking his way through the world with his backpack and a whiteboard. He would obviously use that whiteboard to display his destination whilst trying to catch a ride but it wasn’t its sole purpose. Once he’d be offered a lift – and after miles traveled together chatting about everything and nothing – the guy would ask the random driver to write down his sweetest dream on the board and then pose beside it for a picture. I can only imagine how sick, unique and meaningful his photo album must be to that guy.

“It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations… Living day to day, with absolute freedom.”

I’ve loved America’s general approach to the smoking. Met so many genius stoners over there that I stopped counting. How many nights did I wound up having the deepest and most interesting conversations I’ve had in years with people that were total strangers to me before we lit one up? I lost track. When that thing clicks and you go all passionate about what genuinely matters to you in life with someone that can only be objective in his answers and his perspectives because he doesn’t belong to your regular surroundings. The natural barriers and inhibitions collapse in a blink of an eye over that powerful thing you have in common and new bonds are created on their ashes in a fistful of minutes – as opposed to the hours of boring polite introduction it’d take when sober.

I’ve had my fair share of it while I was there. One of the things I loved the most was to go down to a restaurant stoned and deliberately leave the menu aside so I would ask the waitress what was good in that place, what was her personal favorite and then blindly order it. Close your eyes, trust strangers and – as always – get rewarded when she brings you the best there is with a smile on top.
But now I’m right here, spending the night drinking wine on a Californian beach with one of my best pal from my time in Australia around an improvised campfire under a starry sky… How are you ever gonna beat that?

Before that I was just living my life like I knew everything, and suddenly this bright light hit me and woke me up. And that bright light was you. See you later America, our love story is not over yet.
But you don’t close a chapter of a round the world trip without starting a new one… Good morning New Zealand!!

Been a chameleon traveler in down under for a month time now, bought a van and explored some more of that country that made such an impression on me once.
Travel. Learn. Love. Teach. Repeat. So has been my daily motto those five past months and it’s not bound to stop anytime soon. Life has just begun. Try a thousand different new things a day, savor every single bite of life and consider this a day on, not a day off.
I strive to build connections with creative and passionate people. I saw my first kiwi the other night and I learned to find my way using the stars thanks to some locals. I bust my ass, I don’t even live for the day but for the second. Waiting for the cyclone to strike, I embrace every single opportunity and challenge that comes my way.
Traveling is a privilege, don’t take it for granted.

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

Every big change in one’s life always starts from a loss of faith or an excess of courage. Damn, now that I’m here and I can finally take stock of everything I learned during that trip in North America,  now that I’m in New Zealand and I’m almost already feeling kinda nostalgic about everything I’ve lived during my time there, generally speaking – I feel like my time spent in The Great North has taught me so much. So many achievements unlocked, so many times I went far beyond my limits. Like for instance I’m so much more productive in my everyday life since I don’t postpone anything anymore.
If you are not surfing the wave of change, you will find yourself beneath it. One should not overthink, otherwise nothing would ever get done.

“Those who live intensely do not fear death. Only those who spend their lives accumulating things are those who panic. People who forgot to live are the ones who fear death.”