The Curse of the Fast Thinker

– thoughts during the course of a day

Feb 25, 2012

It’s a Saturday night, and I have only myself to entertain. In the prison cell of my apartment, I sit in isolation, buffered by the empty air around the building, the distance of friends who are themselves too busy to be with me, and the realization that there is no one who cares enough about me to want to do something with me – whether spiritually, physically, or emotionally.  It takes an enormous amount of momentum to move me outside and go see a movie.  I’m glad I did, but returned back to the inertia of the apartment cell, eventually opening my 513-piece jigsaw puzzle and getting the edges done before going to bed.  Well, at least I’m not boring myself!

TinTin and Snowy  BTW – The movie Adventures of Tintin is pretty good!

March 1, 2012

I have so many projects and ideas that are fantastic, but I just don’t have the time, resources, or team-building abilities to make them all happen! I wish there were more of me. I don’t want to be one who just “watches what happened.” I want to be one to MAKES things happen!

I face mundane as well as Atlas-heavy burdens, and my thoughts return to my trip around the world. It seems so long ago, and yet, the feeling I had while traveling lingers within me, keeping me wondering… what would happen if I just left? And didn’t return to here?

What is it that is weighing me down while staying in one place? Is it a mental prison that chains me to here? Is it the routine-ness, the predictability, the carpooling, the rush-rush of daily tasks, the irritability of the predictable, or the results that haven’t gone my way in this routine environment? Is it the thought – or knowledge – that there IS more “out there?”

What a luxury to say, “I lost half a million dollars!” I grew it from a good but not grand amount of inheritance to over a million, and in about as many years, bits and parts grew wings and began taking off in surprising directions, but not back to me. Is it because I’m not very good at tending to what I have? Is it from my view of money as a game that makes it seem unreal? And yet, my stomach swoops with joy when I “win,” and churns in agony when I “lose.” My heart is weighed down when I know the next step is the loss of more money. 

What happens once I lose all that I had grown? Ironically, it seems a huge Atlas-sized world is lifted, and I can see Anything is possible in front of me! Odd. One would think I would be more despondent.  But I look at those who came to the States with nothing, and have been brave, diligent, and living every minute in growing something they didn’t have when they started. But, even odder, once grown, it eventually becomes a burden to control, tend, continue! It reminds me of an example a monk we met in Taos, NM, Casey (or KC) told us.

Gold Cup saucer filligree

He picked up a gold tea cup that someone left as an offering in front of the Buddha we stood before.

“This teacup brings me enjoyment because it is beautiful. When someone gives it to me, I am happy to have such a beautiful and precious thing. Every day, I admire it and am happy. Then someone else gives me ANOTHER gold teacup. Marvelous! I am doubly happy now, and every day am able to admire and enjoy the teacups. I can share the enjoyment now. Then later, someone else gives me ANOTHER gold teacup! Wow, what luck! I can have MORE people share the enjoyment. Then I receive MORE gold teacups, and clear a space to store so many. Eventually I can have a party with so many teacups!

Gold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligree

“But, after the party, I must still clean, dry, and put away so many teacups. I need more space because I have so many. It becomes a chore owning the teacups, and I begin to worry that maybe someone will TAKE one of my precious teacups! I become possessive, and wary of people who come visit me. I guard the teacups as they are desirable, and I don’t want to lose even one! After a while, my life is not as carefree and happy as I was BEFORE I received the first teacup, because I am so busy tending to the many I have, being careful not to chip or break any, keeping them safe, and not using them so often in case I lose, chip or break any.

“My life has changed – but though I am in possession of such beauty, am I truly richer? Happier?

Instead of KEEPING all my possessions, What if I SHARED them instead, and everyone can be as “rich” as I am?  Those who hoard can keep all those damn teacups!  (It’s tough to release, isn’t it?)

JKL's suitcase BEFORE (1) IMG_5727 

As for the question:  “How much do we really need?” during our travels, we lived out of a rolling suitcase and backpack of clothes, medicines, books, electronics. Chris was able to jettison even more than what we carried, and pared himself down to just a large backpack – and NOT a traveling framed backpack either. Just a large regular backpack. Of course, we didn’t carry a sleeping bag, pots or pans, single cooking grill, dishes and utensils for camping, and truly living like a vagabond.  We slept in hostels, a much cheaper way to go than hotels by two- to more-fold. Plus, the hostels’ best feature was the chance to meet OTHER travelers, which hotels do not offer.

Our life most certainly was simple, since we had no schedule, just occasional home schooling for Amy, updating our blog site, and what the current location had to explore. If we ran out of money, our plan was to find a temporary “under the table” kind of job like restaurant work (me), fix bicycles / juggling / entertaining (Chris), or gymnastics (Amy). 

We met some travelers who did just that and went from place to place, working enough to live, and then move on. That brings up the question: “Why move on?”

What draws a traveler to … travel? Explore someplace outside of where they normally live? Keep moving? I can give the “witty” flip answer, “Because,” or the usual answer, “To get away,” but those would answer the first two questions, but not the third necessarily. For the consummate traveler, I believe it’s Curiosity. The wonder of meeting and understanding new and different cultures, situations, peoples, customs, foods, society…

What’s the gain someone traveling would receive?

An open mind, flexibility, knowledge of various solutions to the same problems, excitement, adventure, exploration of the “unknown,” problem solving, quick reflexes, dealing with a variety of people and their temperaments , economic levels, and cultural personalities.

What am I giving up without staying in one place and calling it “Home?”  (It’s OK to make comments here …)

A friend, Naima Shea, sent me a link to a fellow traveler, Jodi of Legal Nomads, who’s been on the road since April 2008 when she quit her position as a Canadian attorney working for 5+ years in NYC, and took off to do what her heart had planned for her since childhood.  What better time than the present!  When IS a good time to take off from the comforts and routine of our world – NOW.  Why wait?  Many had asked her why she quit and took off.  She has a few blogs that answer that question and comments – and many comments were centered around how courageous she was to simply quit without a concern about money to keep her going. 

Isn’t it an interesting correlation – Money = Security? 

Security = Comfort, Safety, Home?

Well, maybe for most that would be the Equation of Life.  Of course, there are so many other aspects of Life that influence how we choose what we do.  

What action that is you would do that is on the “edge” or outside your comfort zone – something that you wouldn’t NORMALLY do?  What’s on that Bucket List of your’s?

[NOTE:  Don’t go and give me “I’d clean my house,” “Prepare my finances so my family is secure,” “Do my taxes” kind of answer!  We’re working OUTSIDE of the BOX of Comfort here … ‘C)]

Happy Mind Traveling

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2 Responses to The Curse of the Fast Thinker

  1. Yulin says:

    First of all, I really enjoyed reading this. Thought provoking and i can definitely relate to some of your thoughts here. The one thing that I would add to “what’s weighing me down to one place” is that sense of responsibility for our kids. Many times, I had the same thought about “why don’t I just pack up and go”, but every time, my internal response is “what about the kids”? I’m sure they will “manage” if I take them along, but then the question is “is that the best for them?” No one can really say or truly know which way would turn out better. I guess for me, it comes down to the fear of not knowing and feeling the burden of responsibility IF things don’t work out well for them. I can live with whatever consequences for my decisions for MY OWN life, but when it comes to another person’s life, it sure feels heavy!

    Personally, I often struggle with finding that “perfect” line between “living MY life to the fullest and my responsibility to those around me who may be affected by what I do”. I guess this would be my answer to your question of “why not now?”. Or is this just another excuse for non action?

    My bucket list (not that they r something I wouldn’t normally do, but more like the timing isn’t now, well, at least from my perspective):
    – Travel around the world
    – speak fluent Spanish, which probably means moving and living in another country that is Spanish speaking (assuming I have already mastered French)
    – create a charitable foundation

    As for money = security, it’s not just in the physical sense, but also financial security, which would give you the freedom to travel. Or is this becoming a chicken and egg problem, if you are going to argue that ppl can travel w/o much money. Hmmm….

    Alright, time for me to turn in to my bed. Too much thinking is going to keep me awake. These days, I DO need my beauty sleep 🙂

    • Yulin,

      Great Bucket List items! But, what else?!?!?! I know you – you have lots more!

      As for budget – did you have a chance to check out the Legal Nomads link? She’s been traveling since April 2008 – even at a lawyer’s salary for 5+ years in NYC, I’m sure she’s used up her savings a couple of years ago, and is figured out how to earn money while still traveling! It’s just a paradigm shift – travel is just the tool, vehicle. Our lives don’t depend on a job. Just a way to survive or thrive.

      Yeah, I was going to add Responsibility as one of the factors that keep one rooted, but it just seemed SO … Responsible to mention it. And kind of boring… ‘C) Ha ha! The reason I HAVEN’T begun on Round 2 of world travel is mainly because of Amy’s school, friends, and gymnastics. She’s my tie-down to earth!

      I think taking the kids with you to go around the world gives them a most unusual perspective on life that there is no way at any school – public, private or otherwise – can give. I’ve seen Chris and Amy become more confident, independent, self-thinkers, and critical problem solvers. It’s been a metamorphosis for kids as teens and adolescents and growing more into self-reliant adults. OK, so they’re NOT really adults (even now as Chris is 19, he’s still a large puppy!), but they’ve matured in the aspect of handling daily life, interactions with any age person, and how they look at situations that they normally would have ignored.

      While on travel, as to if I was enriching or ruining my kids’ lives, I think it depended on what I was teaching them. If I handled a situation badly and the result wasn’t great, then I think they still learned something, and are not “damaged” by the event. I can’t imagine WHAT could possibly go so wrong that the kids would be affected negatively for life, barring dire events like becoming prisoners of war, muggings, death. We’d been through missed connections, penalties for changes, no lodging for the night, shops all closed and no food, ill-tempered managers throwing our luggage outdoors, trying to revive a dead person, sleeping in questionable hostels, … but really no situation that was so horrible that the kids wanted to stop the trip, or would be left with phobias from the travels. The benefits absolutely outweighed the relatively minor mishaps. Plus those same mishaps make for good stories later – something to laugh about as we reminisced years later.

      Did I worry at any point during the trip for the life or health of the kids? Yes, and No. But nothing that was so serious that it couldn’t be handled immediately. The most concerning time was when Chris was due to go to Cairo, and the revolution against Mubarak had just started. Luckily, Providence stepped in, and EgyptAir reasonably cancelled all flights. It will be a debate whether we will EVER see our refund from them however.

      Overall, mercifully, and thankfully, the majority of the people on Earth are really decent folks who would help another human being. Certain areas attract the less savory, and if one is aware of those areas, and stay on guard, then few incidents would occur. That said, I would also mention that learning how to DEAL with the less savory or annoying situations also taught the kids more than I would ever be able to teach.

      Yulin, with priorities, one can figure out what would be the best course to choose. For me, it was family. And travel. And adventure. And curiosity. I took the family (well most of it), traveled to places we all chose to visit, and stayed in and visited typical and unconventional places, and got to see, taste, touch, hear and live what we’d only read about before. Like seeing the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or the pyramids of Egypt, the pictures do not do any justice versus the “real deal.”

      Your experience in Paris will be an amazing time in the lives of Cameron and Maddie – and even you and Peter’s! So, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir when I write about the above!

      Namaste, Yulin! And Carpe Diem!

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