7 Days Later on an Island in Croatia – Lessons Learned

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And, when you’re in the midst of it all, it’s hard to fully collect your thoughts, feelings, and desires. You’re moving at a fast pace, with roughly 40 pounds of baggage strapped to your back, arms, and innately, your insides. You’re meeting people from all over the world, with hundreds of life stories that they are open to sharing because you’re in a foreign country with people who you may or may not ever see again. And, then, there’s the select few that you know you connect with so strongly that you will make the effort to meet at a another time, in another place.

Sometimes, you’re sitting lazily under a palm tree doing nothing and drifting off to the sound of local kids and a family having a picnic on the waterfront as the wind blows and the sun beats down on your legs. Other times, you’re watching the tourists completely flood the city, gulping down one too many drinks, leaving a trail of their trash as they head into the next pub. You ask the locals how they feel about this, and you know while it’s good for their economy, they’re sick of it, even if it only happens six months out of the 12.

You accept your ignorance of having not known the history of a region so rife with struggle and conflict, and truly understand the impact on personal lives when you become close friends with a girl who was displaced by war and separated from her family for two years. You hear the pain and growth from experiences you’ve been so privileged to have avoided merely by the fortune of being raised elsewhere.

It becomes clear that travel is sometimes glorified and beautified, and not always simple. But, you also realize that all you need to survive is food and water. You can change beds nightly and focus on the beauty of having the opportunity to meet more people because you’re in a constant state of flux. You see that there is a sense of stability in always being open to changing surroundings because you rely on so much less and can be ready for anything, at any time. Things really stop mattering so much. You can be alone and content. You can be surrounded and content.

At times, you’re disconnected technologically, so then, you’re totally connected in real time. As if real time even exists and has meaning. I’ve been consumed by people watching. By endlessly seeing that when people are in big groups and have nothing to say, they bring their phones into the conversation, avoiding eye contact and using their thumb to tap accolades to the edited photos on their screens. Or, they are taking snapchats of what’s live in front of them to broadcast to those back home, showing that they are here and you are there, not experiencing the same thing that they are experiencing behind a screen. I’ve been there. I’m happy I haven’t had the means to be for quite some time. It’s made days longer and connections stronger.

Mental pictures are my oldest and newest currency. They are the ones to cherish because they are becoming a part of my future.

I’ve pulled a splinter out of the toe of a stranger, a bee sting out of the hand of an older man, helped friends to their bed after wild nights that became mornings out, checked in on an acquaintance with low blood pressure, and jumped at any opportunity to help strangers when I have the means. I’ve had multiple nights in a row with no sleep and days of exploration, with days of simply passing the time and avoiding the heat.

I’ve talked about the meaning of life, God, love, desire, goals, fears and challenges with multiple people, mostly men, but also with some women, too. I’ve spent hours inside the busiest club on an island to talk philosophies with a friend. I’ve heard wild stories from wild nights of people who are finding themselves and learning what they seek romantically.

I’ve held onto the fact that many people derive the meaning of life from the relationships they make and the amount of people they can help.

Days roll by and time moves slower because you’re taking it all in. You’re connecting on very deep levels, having serious conversations over drinks and cheap eats while you realize the amount of talent and creativity people possess is broad, extensive and unique. You learn that people discover what they are good at over time, and sometimes later than expected in life, as well as having it come to them by chance. It gives you hope. It makes you realize that life doesn’t happen at ages, it happens in stages. And at various points in time because of the choices you make to take the chances and do the things that have always scared you most.

You see that, while yes, people do the same things to survive all over the world, cultures and norms are vastly different. Ways of talking, value systems, expectations, and actions take different forms. You understand that trusting your intuition is one of the smartest and most necessary tools you can bring to the table. You pick up on ways to know who means well and those that are just floating on by. You can spot the people still finding their way, and you can relate to having been there and then seeing those ahead of you, knowing you’ll get there, too.

You appreciate the inherent goodness in people and learn more about yourself through what people tell you they think of you. And, many times, it’s repetitive, which makes it the “truth”?

It’s not what you do, where you live and what you have. It’s who you are and what you do with the limited time you have here, there, and everywhere.

 

 

Late Night Rambles 

What the fuck am I so afraid of? Every person has a story, a history, a future and the power to act. Every day brings with it millions of opportunities for life to go one way or the other. It’s all about choices we make and the convuluted act of just going for it. 

We (maybe I should say I, but a collective make it easier to swallow) want to do something. Then, we spend so many days, months and years talking about it instead of acting. What is with human nature that makes us this way? We all know that life is finite, yet we procrastinate carelessly until it’s too late. Only then do some of us wake up and wish we could’ve done it all differently. 
Not me. Not anymore. 

I am going for it. I only have small inklings of what it is, but I will know when I’ve done it. I can feel that is the truth. I’m trusting intuition, finally. 

I am going to explore and do things I’ve never done and see what I come back with, or without. Mind games and tricks can put illusionary limits on capabilities. I am learning to quiet those unneeded thoughts. There’s a whole lot of brain power that I won’t allow to be left unused and potential lingering that needs to be ignited. 
T-3 days until takeoff. 

One Way Ticket

I’ve got a one-way ticket, my passport, and an open mind with the willingness to tear down the boundaries of my comfort zone. It’s like spring cleaning for my life, yet again.

There’s something about summer coming that makes me want to escape and start fresh. It’s like being in school for so many years gave my mind, body, and soul the muscle memory to get away for a few months, take a break, and then jump back into routine. But, what if there was never meant to be a routine? Society has this way of making you think you have to do what everyone else is doing and puts this notion of success at the end of a supposed, and possibly illusionary path.

And then, writing it down makes everything so real. Like the truth of your inner self is staring you back and asking you what you’re going to do next. I don’t know.

I sat in the sauna today and watched my sweat roll off of my chin and hit my hands, cascading into a puddle on the floor. I was there, but I wasn’t there. I was just watching things happen to my body and the people around me, but letting everything go in and out, like watching a screenplay unfold and accepting whatever was to come. A man slipped down from leaning against the wall and fell to the floor. Slightly embarrassed, he quickly stood back up like nothing happened. On my part, there was zero judgment. Just an understanding that the floor is wet, and yeah, shit happens, but you get back up and readjust yourself the next time you lean back on the wall. Learn from your experience.

Like the drops of water and the man, I think that’s the way life is meant to be lived. Letting things roll and fall however they may, and being accepting of the outcome, while also knowing when to wipe it all off and try again, taking with you what you know and being open to knowing that there is still a lot you don’t.

Things to Realize, Sooner than Later

  1.  It doesn’t matter your title or the company you work for, what matters is the work you do, day in and day out. Love it. If you don’t, leave it and find what you want to do. Then, do it. (*obviously, you have to have finances in order for this to work)
  2. There’s no such thing as “free time.” All time is the same. We get 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and so on. Only you can choose what you do with it.
  3. Possessions don’t make you happy. Relationships and experience are what really matter in life. You can buy things and realize that after a few hours or days, the momentary excitement is gone. You can go on a trip and realize that years later, the memory will still make you smile.
  4. Living too much in the future makes today more stressful than it has to be. Find a balance between short/long-term goals and your current situation. Do what you can today to reach those goals, but don’t live in the stress of what’s unknown.
  5. Back to number 4, you can’t really plan things out. Life is variable moment by moment. Be open to it.
  6. You need to love and accept yourself in order to love another fully, unapologetically, and healthily. If you don’t, all the flaws and holes you have will be projected onto them. You can’t expect someone to fill you up and do that work for you.
  7. Expectations breed a lot of disappointment and unnecessary arguments. Have standards, yes. But, expectations, no. No one deserves anything, except to be treated respectfully.
  8. Communicate. Over-communicate if you have to. People don’t read minds, and you shouldn’t expect them to. If there’s something you want, speak up. If there’s something that bothers you, talk it out before it turns into anger.
  9. Holding on to anger only hurts yourself. The other person is going to live their life whether you’re filled with fire or not. Go on and do the same. Let go.
  10. Competition is important, but you should be most competitive with yourself. Be better than you were yesterday. Build other people up while you make yourself better. Don’t tear someone else down to protect your ego- that’s just going to hurt yourself and keep you from leveling up.

In Light of Darkness in Paris

Trying to find perspective, when hope and understanding seems to be slipping. We live in a world where the same media covers society’s “rage” over red cups at Starbucks as they do the catastrophic terrorist attacks in Paris.

Far reaching distances of the globe collide on computer screens and cell phones that our thumbs stay gripped to, as if we are kids in elementary school experimenting with Krazy Glue on our fingertips. We are living in an “evolving” world that is falling back into barbaric ways, as evils permeate and bombs explode in movie theaters, concert halls, soccer stadiums. Our technology promises to propel us as inhumane creatures still roam-stabbing innocent victims in the streets of cities, as if human bodies were voodoo dolls, being used to expel evil thoughts on behalf of the insane.

Every disaster strikes and we feel a level of heightened fear, shock, rage, sadness, and hopelessness. We become entrenched in the coverage, the social shares, and the inherent travesty of justice. All until, it boils over and the next disaster strikes, and is replayed on a loop like a scratched CD, trying to get the message out, but repeating the same words. Then, in an effort to manage the grave and deep emotions that overcome our senses during these dark times, we somehow grow more and more accustomed to such acts of violence. People will say, “I’m saddened, but not shocked.”

As a society that is privy to hearing news around the world at every moment of every day, we cannot let go of humanity. When we’ve reached this point, the one where such horrendous massacres are commonplace and our sense of “shock” has faded, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate our world. Personally, I will always be shocked. Maybe it’s semantics and what people mean to say is that the news is not surprising, because it’s the same shit everyday. But, it is exactly that- SHOCKING, chilling, cold, and increasingly gloomy.

While death tolls and modes of violence are becoming tallies and global leaders focus on devising strategies to combat such occurrences, we must not forget that every number accounts for a life. Every life has a ripple effect, reaching beyond its existence and affecting those who knew the victim. Although it may be hard to grasp when we hear devastating news and are not immediately related to the people involved, we still can feel the sense of loss. We are humans with the ability to empathize, and the truth is, we have been subconsciously trained to accept the feeling of “sensationalized” in its place.

It seems fruitless as one person can’t stop these rampant terrorist attacks and radical belief systems infiltrating our “civilized” society. The answer of how to help is not clear. Violence is inevitable, recurring, and only idealistically obsolete. But, a good place to start is to step back from the headlines to reflect on the weight of these situations. Even if it won’t solve the next disaster or bring back the lives that were lost, it will acknowledge our serious problem of human disconnect in a world that is revered for being SO “connected.”

Every action has a reaction and everything starts from somewhere. There’s clearly something amiss in our world, and if every one person can identify where love may lack, we can make our own personal effort to fill that void, even if only in a small space, to create a brighter future, on a global scale. The truth is that we are all one.

-In solidarity, with love, prayers, and hopes for a peaceful present for Paris AND the entire world.