May 27, 2017 § Leave a comment
[From a mosquito-net-draped bed in a rustic cabin tucked deep into the thick jungle of the Atlantic Forest on an almost uninhabited island off Brazil’s south east coast]
Life has a weird way of pushing you into different directions that you never expected. That’s where I’m at now. But more importantly than life’s “push” is your ability to create order out of the chaos that is the universe. I don’t think it can be overstated that I wanted a certain lifestyle so I went out and created it. It takes time to put yourself into a position where you can comfortably cut out a chunk of your life to focus solely on yourself. At least it took me time. I had to cut ties from people and places that were familiar because I knew that they were not making me better. They were not fulfilling in my endeavor to live life in a way which impacts the world. I had to leave a high paying position and the comfort of the corporate world for the uncertainty of unemployment. I had to leave a prosperous and beautiful region of the country where I had the great urban apartment that I always wanted for the discomfort of sleeping on strangers couches and camping in mosquito infested jungles. I had to leave the known for the unknown.
It was clear my life had reached a stagnant routine far too early. Life should never feel like a dull routine. If life is boring then there’s something lacking from it which will give you the energy and passion to live life the way it should be. And what is the “way it should be”?
Simple. You need walk bravely into the abyss and disorder of the unknown and create a new “known” for yourself. I believe that this is only way to find meaning and purpose in life. And your 20’s should be one of the most potent periods of your life for personal discovery and growth.
So I made changes. And now I’m quite literally heading into the unknown chaos of South America and trying to develop meaning and purpose while surrounded by foreign lands, people, and languages. And it’s exciting as hell. Simple things like conversations with strangers become a means to strengthen my Portuguese and my confidence in speaking a foreign language. Every time I drink a new beer, smoke weed in the street with people I just met, try a traditional tea, eat a new food, or otherwise immerse myself in a new culture I’m discovering more about myself and what I need to improve.
For instance I’ve realized that I’m socially very black or white. I’m extroverted in the sense that I feed off of social interaction. When I’m socially engaged I get excited and speak more and become louder and more confident. I never fully understood this until I came to Brazil. I noticed that it’s very hard for me to follow a conversation in Portuguese when there’s more than three people including myself. Especially if one of them isn’t Larissa. I get lost quickly in the slang and accents and before I know it I’m forced to sit back and quietly listen. Asking every time that I have a question leads to me repeatedly breaking the flow of conversation. As a result I sort of pull away from social interaction and quickly clam up. I’m not upset but after a half hour or so of this I become very socially withdrawn and ready for a nap. My entire mood is affected. So I’ve been trying to find excuses to assert myself into conversations when there’s less than four people. I know I can’t keep up with a large group. But tonight I had a relatively successful conversation over a joint and some mate with Lari and my Airbnb host. Of course it became hard to keep up once I was pretty well stoned but I did a decent job of keeping up for the most part.
Another point: I just heard pretty powerful lyrics in the song This Aint Livin’ by G. Love and The Special Sauce:
The pain lets me know that I’m alive
Life is suffering and you can either roll over on your back and identify with that suffering or you can grab a torch and march forward into the source of that suffering and search for fulfillment. I chose the latter. And although some of the examples I’m experiencing right now are quite literal (confronting foreign and unknown cultures) there’s plenty other ways I’m trying to do this. First and foremost I’ve been watching a series of lectures from a 400 level psychology class which have greatly influenced my last few blog posts and the way I’m approaching life in general. I’ve started creating a list of books I’d like to read either during the course of this trip across South America or when I return to North America. I’ve been following world news and I’ve become fascinated by the knowledge that can be gleaned from ancient mythology and religion. Essentially I’m trying to say that the search for knowledge is where I’m deriving a significant sense of purpose in life. And I don’t expect that to change much for the remainder of my life. I hope to god it’s a long and meaningful life. 😊
I still have social anxiety in certain situations. And I’ve learned that there’s only one way to tackle this type of issue: confront it. In the same way that I’m going head first into the darkness of strange cultures and new ideas I’m trying to find the courage necessary to overcome my social anxiety and show the world what I’m worth. An I can contribute quite a bit, as far as I can tell. In fact if one believes, as I do, that they are talented and competent enough to make memorable change in the world then they need to be able to put the ideas of their mind into words. Spoken language is the most powerful tool we have as humans.
Ate logo, gente.