Working for the Weekend

Earlier this week I wrote about the Jack of all Trades stereotype, and how there’s nothing wrong with having many skills. It was partly inspired by what Tim Ferriss has said on his blog; boredom is failure. Rather than basing our success on how much money we have, we should be focusing on how much of life we’re experiencing.

Thoreau writes extensively about this in his book Walden, from when he moved into the woods for two years. He writes that men act like machines, neglecting “the fruits of life”. Those fruits are experience and the finer details we should be living each day. It seems that 200 years later, men are still focusing on the same idle idea that money generates experience.

Everyday I see people working in their thirties and forties with stale faces that radiate boredom. It terrifies me that one day I may become like that. Even now I have friends that watch TV or play video games with the few hours they aren’t working.

When I finish my obligation at my job, I think I will vagabond around for a bit. There’s too much time wasted through working for money that I don’t have enough time to spend. Even David Miller writes about this in his book “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail”. I don’t want to spend 30 years of my life waiting for a retirement, why should I push-off living my life until I’m less physically able to go on the adventures I want to?

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Another Project, Another Day

These past few weeks have been full of reflection, upon both my work and who I am as a person. During this time, I’ve found my mind moving in circles but always returning to the desire to write a book.

Above my bed I have a stack of books that I read while laying down. Each book is different but I’ve found that I read many biographies and journals. A few of these books included “Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind”, “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, “Eat. Pray. Love.”, “An Artist at War”, and “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail”. For my birthday I ordered, “On the Road” and “Into the Wild”.

There are two common themes for all of these books: intense introspection and traveling to a new location. The same reason that compelled these authors to share their stories is why I feel the need to write my own.

Over the last year I’ve moved from my family in Minnesota to a new group of people in Texas. After two months I left for Mississippi with only a few people I knew. I found myself back to Texas, Minnesota, and settling into South Carolina. Each one of these locations has brought another part of myself out.

While I feel the need to write as a way to organize my thoughts, I also feel compelled to explain this last year. Too much has happened for my brain to process and maybe it will help someone else. Maybe they will be able to figure out a piece of their life through my stories.

All that I know right now is that I’m going to write a book.

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Friends without Borders

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In 2010, I hosted an exchange student from Basque Country (Northern Spain). We hit it off so much that, after he left, I immediately went to visit him in his country. These trips back and forth to Spain (and to the USA for him) lasted for 3 years. Each time we stayed for about a month in each other’s home.

The first year was different from all the others because it was the first time I traveled alone internationally. The village I lived in was small, and everyone was connected. Each person came from a different background but during the summer, when everyone moved out to their summer homes, they came together.

This photo is of my friend Jennifer and I when we first met. Jagoba (who I was living with) brought me up one night to meet his best friend. We climbed onto the side of a mountain where a church stood and found her waiting for us. I handed my camera to Jagoba and told him to take a picture of us, even though we hadn’t really introduced ourselves yet. I ran over to her and gave her a huge hug!

That was the catalyst for a great friendship while I was traveling.

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Three years later (2012), we took this photo on the other side of the mountain. We had partied together, traveled together, and had many interesting conversations. Who knew that from a running hug, our friendship would start.

The interesting things is that Jennifer doesn’t really speak English… and I really, really, don’t speak Spanish. All of our communication was done in our own languages. She would speak to me in Spanish, and I would reply in English. I understood enough Spanish to pick up what she was talking about, and she knew enough English to reply to me.

You would think that this would severely limit our communication, but it didn’t. We had philosophical conversations about life and the music we loved. It got to the point that my friend Jagoba got upset.

One day he told me that he doesn’t understand how we have conversations. He spent 6 years learning English and yet, Jennifer and my communication was great! He said that he knew both English and Spanish, so he understood what each of us was saying. Jagoba wasn’t angry, he was just astonished at our ability to talk to each other.

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These years that I have lived in Basque Country have shown me that everyone is human. We have different paths and will pursue different goals in life, but despite all of this, we’re able to relate to one another. Jennifer and I met 4 years ago, in mountainous Spain, where there’s good food, loud parties, and always time to go to the beach. We live very different lives but yet we’re good friends.

Looking back, this is why I’m hopeful about the future. Jennifer and I are two people who come from very different backgrounds. We don’t even share a common language but yet we’re able to live peacefully. It doesn’t matter the what our nations or society think, we are able to coexist. I hope everyone has the opportunity to meet someone like this in their lifetime. 🙂 Have a wonderful day everybody!

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The Tim Ferriss Show

If you haven’t heard of Timothy Ferriss, you need to go read his brilliant books “The 4-Hour Workweek”, “The 4-Hour Body”, and “The 4-Hour Chef”. Each book is based on of Ben Franklin’s model of “Healthy, Wealthy, Wise”. They break down into experiments that Tim has conducted on himself and his friends. It ranges from living the life you’ve dreamed to how to catch a pigeon with your hands and cook it. During this 365 project I’ve written about concepts inspired by his books, especially “The 4-Hour Body”.

Recently, Tim has started sharing podcasts with friends. Each one is so unique that they’re difficult to explain. If you read any of his content, you’ll enjoy his talks.  The one that’s below was his first podcast and the rest are available on his website http://thefourhourworkweek.com/

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Goodbyes

Having someone leave out of your life is rough and there’s no right time for it. Tomorrow my closest friend leaves to move up to Alaska. Despite having only met him last month it’s difficult to imagine what life is going to be like without him here. When somebody occupies a huge part of your life it’s difficult to let them go. We had a lot of good times and I’m glad I got to know him.

I think that sometimes people are just meant to pass through your life. They’re not meant to stay there and if you knew everyone in your life was going to stay forever, you wouldn’t appreciate them. So although it sucks that he’s leaving, I’m appreciative of having met him.

We spent way too many hours killing Nazi zombies, driving to the beach, and getting off base. I’ll definitely miss him. Here are some pictures from the past month:

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To live is to suffer

It’s odd how when we suffer, we can gain a lot of insight into our lives. It’s not until everything goes wrong that we see what was going right before. When our car finally breaks down, we notice how well it was running before. We hate our job but we find that we don’t have any other job we like better.

To suffer is a condition of life. We must constantly tear down and rebuild everything around us. If we don’t tear it down, the walls will crumble anyways. The impermanence of everything assures that. By accepting life as a struggle it ceases to be one.

I wrote last night about a lot of the struggles I was going through. My car broke down, my jaw kept me up all night, and a lot more things were at the forefront of my mind. However, I was unconditionally accepting of it all and let it pass by. I accepted the suffering as part of life’s way of challenging me as a person.

When we stagnate, we become ignorant. When we stop all struggling and suffering, we neglect change. We become ignorant of the things around us. By suffering, we embed compassion and understanding in everyone.

This does not mean that to suffer is good. Rather, suffering is part of life and as much as we wish for only growth, we also have to take a few steps back sometimes. To suffer and to mentally reject it, we fall into another self-defeating track. We must realize that although we will suffer through our lives, we will also have great joys and great losses.

To have is also to lose. To have loved is also to have lost. In great happiness, there is also great sadness. As Osho describes, it is like a great tree; happiness grows towards the sky and branches out, while the sadness buries itself into the ground to form roots. The greater the happiness, the greater the sadness. In everything is its opposite.

Once we realize that life will inexplicably move on, we can accept life as it is and the suffering is not as bad. We can help others who suffer and enjoy life in a different way.

Remember, when you’re going through a tough time, it may become worse but it will definitely become better. Life challenges you and sometimes you will feel like you’re peddling backwards, you’ll feel like everything is wrong, but I assure you, your life is moving forwards. When you struggle, you learn how not to struggle, then you struggle with something else (ad infinitum). See the process as part of life and you will relieve a lot of stress.

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Don’t let life get you down

Sometimes stress can be overbearing. For the past two weeks I’ve been stressing over a test I had to take today. It has consumed my mind constantly and I’ve been waiting to get it over with. After taking the test and passing my car broke down while I was driving a friend home. So I had to get it towed and find an auto-shop down here in Charleston. Then I had to call friends and see who would drive through the insane traffic to get us. After I got home my wisdom teeth started hurting – something I should have taken care of a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I don’t have a car or any friends with Advil. Tomorrow I’m going to have to walk to work and leave 30 minutes early.

However, none of this is getting me down. This is part of life, and as Osho teaches, we should accept life as it comes to us. Yes, everything is unfortunate. However, I’m happy that there are so many gracious people around me to help when it gets difficult. I’m grateful for everything right now. Sometimes life is difficult and stress is overbearing – but when we struggle against what’s happening, we suffer.

I do this by accepting what’s happening and removing the extra or the interpretations. “My car broke down today” instead of “my stupid car broke” or “this would happen to me“. I could label things as good and bad but instead I choose just to feel it without the label. Inside that feeling I don’t feel good or bad, it just is what happened.

Sometimes stress is overbearing and we’re blindsided by the things that life throws at us. Sometimes it’s okay and sometimes we breakdown. It’s important to let life just flow. It happened and I’ve moved on. I’m here now. That’s all the world has to offer us, deal with the situation at hand and let go of it.

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