I have recently embarked on a new adventure: extensive traveling. Why? Numerous reasons come to my mind in no particular order. Let’s start with their headlines:
1. A desire to break from the “script” and effect real changes in parts of me
2. A desire to accelerate my discovery of the world at large when I still can
3. A desire to delve with more depth into a few subjects of interest
I don’t know how long the adventure will last as traveling in a pandemic can be testing and tiring but I will give it a good shot and end it when it no longer suits.
1. Breaking from the “script”
We go through life with a playbook, as if we had been given a script to follow. We seek to accomplish something, to create our own coherence, to show that we fulfill something of lasting/worthy consideration. That something is dictated to and by us somewhat randomly. We try to please our parents, to please ourselves. We leverage our skills and attributes to the best of our abilities. So we embark on a quest with the purpose of fulfilling our destiny. We seek to win or we seek not to lose. We gradually become so engrossed in our quest that it takes a life of itself, at times overwhelming the original goal in pursuit. However, we must remain conscious that the quest itself is not the ultimate end that we seek. It is just a mean. As we shed light in a small area surrounding us, we feel confident that we are not in utter chaos and darkness. Yet we could shed the light in any direction and still obtain similar results. So, even as we try to make sense of our short life, we must realize that most of what we do day-to-day is just a script, an almost theatrical attempt to deliver a watchable story, in search of soothing our own audIence more than anything else.
I believe it is important that we keep awareness that the script is not the quest. The script has a life of its own and can develop into a well-oiled machine of habits and automatisms. It can become engrossing to the point of superseding the quest. We should never forget where we are in our quest. Our fundamental mission is to enjoy life and help others. The search for happiness should take us to different places as we may be disappointed with current circumstances and decide to move on to greener pastures. Yet, many times people are reluctant to move on by fear of the unknown in unfamiliar areas, by conscious efforts to avoid defeat, to avoid failure by bondage to the image of ourselves that we would like to maintain in spite of its absurdity.
The ultimate achievement in the quest is to know when to abandon it, either through victory, having accomplished all that it involved, or by defeat, accepting to lose, to abandon an impossible mission, and accept that no mission is ultimate except to “live” a full life, accepting freedom when it has been earned. No quest is worth abandoning the true meaning of life, the recognition that it is what it is, chaotic, uncontrollable, and with an end. Living without the artifice of a script is a full recognition of the value of life, in itself, not in our designs and machinations.
As a “mentoring” aside, passing on the quest down the line is critical to fully winning : it celebrates the fact that the “baby” is strong enough to have a life of its own, without its creator. It affirms that we are capable of trust and dependence, another major accomplishment, and that no quest is ultimate. They must all end, and the better if by our own hands. I will soon return to the subject of mentoring for further exploration.
2. Discovering the world.
So, I spoke about affecting real changes in parts of me. Easier said than done. The first rule of course is to break a few habits. At home, we have a clear tendency to restrict our activities to mostly routine, comforting, predictable patterns: exercise, Netflix, phone calls, run to the store, etc. The benefit of extensive traveling is that it undoes all of this structure. You are no longer prisoners of your home objects. Every day is a discovery of some sort which you cannot really control. Hence, you rapidly give up on “scripting” the unknown and you switch from passive/routine control to active randomness. It forces you to open yourself to the obvious largeness of the world you don’t control. The choice is clear: control a small world, or surrender-to- and learn-from a larger world. There is no longer a backlog of things to do, but an immediacy of actions/observations that is as large as your true availability is. I choose to be available so there is plenty, and I mean plenty to see and do. A few patterns emerge. Every day is a blank page that will be filled with a mix of randomness and necessary “overhead”. The overhead consists of planning the day, finding a destination and attending the basics, such as finding a room for the night, places to eat, etc. No matter what, the overhead is currently about 20% of the day, a ratio, which I aim to reduce as I “learn to travel”. The randomness part of things seems to favor new priorities, as 80% of time is now “freed”. There is a dramatic increase in “availability”, optionality of new things. The biggest priority is of course to find and absorb the surrounding beauty: beautiful landscapes where earth shows its unmatched power over both space and time. Every mountain has its history of what it took to create it, how thin its crust might be, what it was a few million years back, what it will become, and so on. Basically, absorb the world on its own terms, rather than on yours. The more, you empty yourself of your constraints, prejudices and resistances, the less you are structured, the more you can soak in this beautiful world of ours and listen to its messages.
3. Delving into a few subjects of interest
Here, I will keep private discussion of my love, family and friends which are present in me as an integral part of my existence. I will focus on other concerns. I guess a cow will always chew on grass in order to survive. While boasting of breaking habits, I still indulge in chewing on a few abstract projects: physics, languages, image capture, some writing. Also, general accessibility to people surrounding me through observing them and trying to enter their lives, somehow: a few words in celebration of our commonness, some speculation of the present, past and future.