Fear and Growth

April 24, 2017 § Leave a comment

If I could smoke fear away,
I’d roll that mother fuck up,
And take two puffs

The older I become the less certainty I have. About everything.

When I was 20 I thought I had it all figured out. I was wrong. Dead wrong. And the only thing I’ve been able to take away from this experience is that certainty is something I’m not guaranteed in life. Only the certainty of death remains.

But life should be approached as an experience. At least, that’s the only way I’ve figured it out how to live without becoming overwhelmed by everything. I find topics that interest me and dive in as much as I can. I know that I’ll never learn everything but I find the endeavor itself invigorating. That’s how I intend to live my life. You’ll never know everything but the search for knowledge and experience is what makes life interesting.

Sometimes this propensity to better understand things puts me in awkward situations. I find myself in conversations or places that are uncomfortable for me. For example, I use couchsurfing to meet new people (and stay somewhere for free of course). I had a couchsurfing host in New York invite us to dinner with some of her (and her husband’s) friends. Things were going reasonably well until I found myself in a strange political discussion with the host’s husband. I won’t lie to you, things got weird. But unfortunately I found myself in a position where I was defending the fucking concept of free speech. I was told this was a “strangely American phenomenon” by a German guy and a Turkish woman.  I’ll do my best to refrain from mentioning the irony of a German and a Turk supporting the suppression of free speech. Not to mention the fact that free speech is one of the foundations of the modern Western culture and is far from being solely an “American” phenomenon. Annoyingly, I think these two were trying to paint my support of free speech as some sort of red meat eating, gun-toting, American trait. You could imagine the horror if I (equally idiotically) connected his opposition to free speech to the German culture and the unfortunate events of the 20th century which occurred there. But after that conversation I’ve come across a dangerously increasing number of similarly minded people online and in articles. The conversation, although awkward, was important because it helped me understand the anti-free speech movement. I learned something.

A better example is my life right now. I’m in a foreign country surrounded by people who speak a different language than my own. And although I know some Portuguese it’s surely a struggle to hold conversations. Very often I find myself the weak link in social situations, which is something I’m not used to. There’s only so many times I can ask people to stop a conversation to explain what I missed. After a while I learned to just sit out of a lot of conversations. But at the end of the day I’m living in a foreign country and learning a new language every day. Sometimes it’s mentally tiring. Sometimes I get tired of constantly being forced to focus on each word coming out of everyone’s mouth. But most of the time it’s just interesting. Sitting in a room on the other side of the planet full of people speaking a language that was completely foreign to me only a year before. This is personal growth. It’s tough, but it’s important.

But at the root of all of these strange experiences is fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being judged. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Every time that I do something new it feels sort of weird. Learning new things is strange. Admitting that you suck at something is hard. But the reward from learning a new skill makes it worth it. Improving yourself is how life should be lived.

I’m trying.

Brazil: Update #1

April 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

Well, an update is finally here. For those of you who thought that I had perhaps died I appreciate your concern. But far from death, the past week or so of my life has been pretty incredible. In fact, I’ve never felt more alive. I’ve been to downtown Recife (or “Recife Antigo”) and I’ve seen some of the most beautiful beaches in my life. In fact, I was so impressed by how fucking warm the water is here. Perhaps too impressed, because I left Porto de Galinhas (unlike anything, google it) with a good deal of sunburn.

But more than anything else it’s the subtle cultural, environmental, and other changes. Of course I find the language change is difficult at times. Even when I can see improvement (which I can) it gets very tiring being around people who speak another language for hours at a time. I need to constantly focus just to understand what others are saying. Especially if they are unaccustomed to speaking with non-native Portuguese speakers (most Brazilians). Outings with family and friends can get tiring. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m frustrated or bored (because I’m not) or worse that I simply don’t care. But after spending three hours really focusing on every last syllable from six people you just met that day, I get a little exhausted.

Brazilian culture is really cool. But like anywhere else, Brazil is not without its problems. The traffic here is absolutely bananas. For the most part street signs are treated as suggestions, not laws. At most traffic stops you will find men walking from car to car selling water. Every major intersection has poor men yelling “Olha, agua!”.  In fact, pretty much everywhere you go there’s people selling or begging for something. And of course, senhor gringo over here is target number one. Blue eyes, red beard, etc. I’m basically have a face that says “has money”. Which is unfortunate for both of us because I certainly don’t have any.

I’ll be honest, it makes me a bit uncomfortable that merely my face and skin tone makes everyone around me say “oh shit, he has money”. It’s especially unfortunate because Brazil can be incredibly dangerous. And something you never want to do in dangerous areas is stand out. But I find myself doing exactly that everywhere that I go.

The longer that I’m off night shift the more I feel myself reverting to my old self. I’m reading more and more. I care more about recent events than I have in three years. I’m less loud. I feel…calmer. Less angry. Less impulsive. Less dwelling on dumb shit that I can’t change. Night shift changed my behavior in very toxic ways. And I’m glad to be past that stage of my life.

Peace,

Eric

 

Preparing

April 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ve been in Florida for a few days. I’m staying at my dad’s house until the 10th of April. Then I’ll be taking a train from Orlando to Miami. After a night in Miami my flight will leave for Brazil on the 11th.

The past month or so has been insane. Until this week I haven’t had enough time to stop and think, let alone write. I spend a couple weeks in March roadtripping and hiking throughout the Northeast of the US. That was incredible, and I met some really great people along the way. But now I’ve basically been everywhere in the contiguous United States.

Been there, done that. After spending a few weeks in Europe last summer I’m more than ready to do more international traveling. Soon enough I will be in Brazil. And after spending a few months in the Northeast of Brazil we will start the long journey south. We want to spend time in Uruguay before heading to Patagonia (Argentina, Chile) and eventually Peru, Ecuador, and perhaps Colombia. Who knows what order we will do it in. It depends on a lot of things. But we agreed not to plan too much. We’re going to buy bus tickets as we go. We will be totally free. The only time restraints will be to be back in Brazil in February for Carnaval and to make sure we’re in the coldest regions of Patagonia around November-January, their summer season.

Moving to Brazil is intimidating. There’s no question. How good is my Portuguese? How long until I can understand native speakers clearly, without concentrating? And what about my safety? I’m clearly gringo. And I was told that I’ll be robbed in Recife because of how I look.

And then when we travel in South America. Buses across remote regions of the Argentinian countryside. And my inability to speak Spanish. Do I have everything I need for cold weather hiking in the Andes?

I’ll be honest, I know I’m not fully prepared. And that’s what makes it exciting for me. I like not knowing. And I’ve learned to enjoy putting myself in uncomfortable positions. I know my Portuguese still needs work. But I’m ready to practice. I know I’m a target to be robbed, and I’m ready for the moment. Or maybe I’m not. Who cares. Because in the end I’m going to be in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Incredible beaches, beautiful women, and unforgettable moments are in my near future. If I get robbed a couple times or experience awkward moments because of my Portuguese, so be it!

My hope is that the next year will teach me about myself. And about what I want. At the very least, it’s going to be different. And that’s all that I want.

Tenho mais Tempo/I have more time

February 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

I decided to start making my posts in English and Portuguese. Mostly because I want to continue to practice Portuguese but also because it’s my blog and I don’t give a fuck.

Anyway tomorrow is my last day at my job, and I will then have much more time to focus on myself, my relationship, and my life. The older I get the more I realize that I know nothing about myself. And once I reached a level of maturity where I realized that most people around me are just as stunted in their personal development I decided I needed to do something about it.

So for at least the next year I will spend every day trying to do things to better myself and better understand who I am as a person. Until I figure that out, who am I to critique the world around me?

Quando a gente chega no Brasil a gente vai estar feliz pra caralho! Mas a gente ainda vai precisar trabalhar. Mas eu uso a palavra “trabalhar” em um jeito diferente. Por examplo, vou querer leer mais frequente. A minha namorada vai querer passar tempo com a familia dela. Claro, morar no Brasil vai melhor o meu portugues muito. Mas ainda durante a minha namorada e eu moramos nos estados unidos a gente ainda fala em portugues por mais ou menos 30 minutos todo dia. Quero melhorar!

So here’s a list of the things that I expect I will focus on in an attempt to improve myself over the next year (March 2017 – April 2018):

Portugues

Claro, vou querer melhorar o meu portugues. And I expect that improving my speech, writing, and ability to listen (and understand) will improve. The question is how can I use my time in Brazil most effectively. Recently I read something that changed the way I approach these things: “The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’is wrong. Perfect practice makes perfect”. This is true. I noticed that I will often try to hide the deficiencies of my spoken portuguese by rushing through a sentence when I would be better served to slow down and make sure my grammar and pronunciation are correct. This is actually very hard for humans to do, because our natural impulse is to be ashamed of our novice abilities and posture ourselves as experts. But the first step to becoming an expert is admitting that you’re a novice and keeping that in mind while you practice. Whether I can be brave and cognizant enough to do this while living in Brazil will be a big test for me. It’s (for me, at least) embarrassing to not fully understand a language. I need to overcome this, or I will not improve as much as I’d like.

Russian History

I read “The Gulag Archipelago”by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and it affected me in ways I never expected. I’ve become infatuated with the history of the red revolution and the years preceding and following it. I’m almost done with The Gulag Archipelago and I already checked out another book from the library about Russian history. In particular, there are a couple historical figures from these time periods that fascinate me. Naftaly Frenkel and another dude whose name escapes me (he’s an Estonian escape artist) are two guys from this general time period that did some incredible things. Because the communist party destroyed so many books and newspapers some of these people’s stories are shrouded in a cloak of mystery. That fascinates me.

Psychology & Philosophy

For other reasons, I’ve become really interested in the lectures and writings of a psychologist at the University of Toronto named Jordan Peterson. He has an incredibly interesting way of looking at the human mind and a knack for explaining the ideas of psychology in simple language that even a laymen can understand. His ideas about the relationship between ancient myths and modern culture are cool as fuck. He wrote a book called “maps of meaning” that I really want to read but it’s unusually expensive and I can’t find it at any libraries. I also want to use Peterson’s ideas a launching off point to start reading more of the classics of human psychology and philosophy. Yung and Niethzsche are on my short list for those fields, respectively.

Geology and Human Civilization

I just ordered a book called “Magicians of The Gods” that I became interested in a while back when I first saw its author, Graham Hancock, on the Joe Rogan Experience. There’s some really interesting connections between the origins of civilization and massive impact events and the geological evidence suggests (according to Graham and his cohorts) that human civilization could be much older than mainstream archaeology believes. Interestingly, this relates back to Jordan Peterson and the power of ancient mythology. Hancock believes that many of the stories in ancient mythology tell the story of massive natural disasters on earth. In any case, Peterson’s and Hancock’s research seem to be independently converging on the same idea. The fact that I first heard about both around the same time is a happy coincidence.

Skills, Knowledge, Etc

After spending some months in Brazil we will be doing volunteering projects at farms, hostels, and random places across South America using the website “workaway”. My hope is that besides providing me with a great opportunity to live in other countries, I will learn more about different ways of living. For instance, there is a farm in Uruguay that is owned by an older couple. Perfectly they are both vegetarian and only serve vegetarian food. So besides learning how to take care of a large farm we will be able to easily continue the diet and lifestyle that we chose to live. I’ve always wanted to move to the middle of nowhere and live off the land. A lot of the people we will stay with moved from home and live entirely self-sufficiently. Anything I can learn from them will be an asset moving forward.

Personal Development

Although all of these things are clearly means of developing myself, I have plans to do things that will explicitly be a means to better understand myself. I want to complete the self authoring program, which is a professionally developed online program designed by psychologists to help you map out your life. Its intention is to help you better understand your past, your present, and what you would like your future to be. This makes all the sense in the world to me because I’ve used this blog almost exclusively for this purpose. Although I am skeptical what advantages paying for the same thing will offer, the professionals that design it offer a lot of concrete data that shows that, for whatever reason, their program truly helps people.

Similarly I’m looking at the next year as a break from the things that prevent me from simply taking a moment and thinking about myself. I look at some of the forty year olds that I work with, meet, or generally cross paths with. So many of them seem to be missing something. It’s hard to explain, but I think it has to do with their inability or fear of taking the “leap” I’m about to take. Rather than spend a chunk of their twenties or thirties focusing on themselves they chose to focus on a career. Of course everyone is different, and not everyone has the opportunities that I do. That said, becoming them in twenty years makes me lose sleep at night. I don’t believe I can truly flourish in that lifestyle. At the very least, I know that I need some time to myself right now. To focus on myself, on love, and on truly understanding what is best for me. Perhaps I’m projecting on some of these people, but I can assure you a good chunk of middle aged professional in the United States are walking bags of regrets.

Experiences!

Of course, I want new experiences! After this March I will have been to every state in the contiguous United States. Been there, done that. I remember I wrote about a year or two ago in here how I wanted the second half of my 20’s to be even more adventurous and wild than the first. This is me doing exactly that. I’m leaving a great job, a safe country, and a generally easy path for the unknown. And I’ve never been happier!

Look, I’ve almost died in a tornado in Kansas. I watched a friend almost overdose in Colorado. I was almost robbed a number of times in Ohio (ok, that was bound to happen). I’ve driven 24 hours straight through the night. Partied in New Orleans, drank in Montana. Smoked in…everywhere. Hiked the Appalachians, the Rockies. Granted, I have not conquered this country. And I will never get sick of watching the Rocky Mountains appear in the distance as you drive west. But I feel I need something different to truly break out and take me out of my comfort zone.

I have no question that South America will do that for me. Between the beaches of Northeast Brazil, the mountains of Patagonia, and the beauty of the latin languages and people, I have absolutely no doubt that this will provide exactly the surroundings I need to flourish mentally, physically, and spiritually at this phase of my life.

Before I go, here’s some cool ass pics of me.

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Eu no meu apartamento em Raleigh sendo um weirdo (Me at the apartment in Raleigh being a weirdo)

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O meu visto brasileiro! (My brazilian visa)

Ate logo, gente! Eu amo todos voces!

A New Chapter Begins…

February 19, 2017 § 5 Comments

Oiiii galera!

Okay, time for a post in English. I know these are becoming more rare these days. The life of Eric is taking turns that I can never anticipate. Whew.

  1. I quit my job. My last day of work is the 24th of February. My lease is up on the first of April. My flight is April 12th. So between the 24th of February and April 12th I have some free time, right? Time to pack, move, and maybe relax?

    Nah, that would be too easy for Eric. Because I’m a nut and my partner is also a nut, there is no one to stop us and say “dude, slow the fuck down”. So we’re going to spend the first two weeks of March selling our shit and packing whatever we want to keep so that I can leave it at my Dad’s house in Ohio.

    Speaking of Ohio, we will be leaving North Carolina on the 14th of March so that I can go home for the first time in four years and see my family before I leave the country. Also we’re going to drop everything we’re keeping but won’t need for Brazil at my Dad’s house. We will probably go to the St Patrick’s day parade in Cleveland, spend time with family, and go to restaurants from my childhood and college years.

  2. From Ohio, another road trip. After we spend a few days with family and reassure my mom that her son will actually come home every few years (oh, and introduce my girlfriend to the family…should be INTERESTING). So we’re roadtripping the Northeastern United States. That includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We’re going to spend a few days hiking the Adirondacks in upstate New York and another few days in Acadia National Park hiking and sight seeing.
  3. Somehow, after all that, we need to get back to Ohio to pick my dog back up (shit, that reminds me, I need to ask my sister to watch her). That brings us back to Cleveland on the 28th of March. THEN, we will need to head back south. Our flight is out of Miami! We will probably stop in Raleigh over night to get the last few things before we’re kicked out the 31st. After spending a week with my dad at his girlfriends house in Central Florida we will need catch a train to Miami where we will (hopefully) get a couchsurfing host to have us for a couple nights before our flight to Brazil on the 12th of April!!

Which reminds me, I hope my dad will let me leave my car at his place in Florida. I really don’t know what the fuck to do with it. Shiiiiit. lol se fudeu!

Clearly, we’re crazy. Man to be honest I didn’t realize how nuts all of this will be until I sat down to write it all. But I embrace the insanity!! Bring on Brazil!! More on our plans once I have more time (and once we know what they are hahaha).

Until then, peace and love always to my people of the blogosphere and elsewhere!

Eric

Viagens

January 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

Oi gente, acabei de voltar do México umas semanas atrás.México foi lindo, e amei a ilha do Cozumel. Quando voltei começar trabalhando imediatamente. É claro, trabalho é uma merda mas eu sempre penso em saindo dos estados unidos para o Brasil. Eu vou para o consulado do Brasil um umas dias e vou pegar meu visto brasiliero.

Já comprei minha bilhete pra a minha vôo para o Brasil. Eu vou viajar em Abril. Quando nós chegamos no Brasil vamos morar na casa das pais da Larissa. Estou animado viajar dentro do Brasil (Não certeza se posso usar a palavra “dentro” aqui, mas você vai entender). Primeiro nós vamos viajar o nordeste do Brasil. Então vamos viajar visitar a familia da Larissa no Sul do Brasil (São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Matto Gross do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, etc). Gostariamos estar no Nordeste do Brasil durante Carnaval. Larissa me disse que Pernambuco tem o melhor Carnaval no mundo.

Depois disso vamos viajar para o resto da América de Sul. Queremos visitar Argentina, Uraguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, e talvez Colombia. Provavelmente nós pegar o onibus pra maioria da America do Sul. Tem uma possibilidade que nós vamos pegar aviões em aluns país mais perigosos.

Tenho certeza que nós vamos morar no Brasil, estar no Pernambuco para Carnaval, e viajamos para Argentina. Especificamente a região da Argentina chama Patagonia. Encontrei uma mulher no site “workaway” que precisa dois pessoas a ajudar cuidar a gatas dela e a casa dela.

Ainda estou pagando para aulas de português uma vez por semana. Espero que meu português está melhorando. Eu assistia videos em português porque precisco melhorar minha capacidade entender quando falantes de português estão falando comigo.

Por favor me avise se você tem qualquer dicas ou comentes sobre meu português ou minha viagem para o Brasil. Tchau!

 

Boa Viagem!

December 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

A gente vai viajar para Florida amanhã. Depois Florida a genta vai viajar ao México. Nós vamos dirigir oito horas até Florida. Quando chegamos em Florida nós vamos ficar com meu pai em a casa dele. Ele mora em Ocala, uma cidade no centro do estado. Por que ele decidiu morar em Florida mas não perto da litoral? Não sei. Os homems na minha familia não é muito inteligente. Eu amo meu pai, mas as vezes eu pergunto as escolhas dele. Nós vamos ficar lá para umas noites. Tambem, nós vamos acampar na paque nacional perto da casa dele. Eu acho nós vamos fumar maconha e nadar nas fontes naturais lá. Todas as sites eu vi que descreve as fontes perto da casa dele mostra agua azul e muito claro. As fontes quentes traz manatees (eu tento traduzir esse….“peixes-boi”? kkkk, soa estranho, talvez náo é certo). Se nós somos com sorte, a gente vai nadar com essas animais estranhas! Que legal! Buscar para “Ocala national Forest” ver o que eu estou falando sobre!

Na dia da Natal a gente vai viajar ao México. Nós chegaremos em Cancún primeiro, então nós vamos visitar Chichen itza. Ficaremos na cidade de Piste, Yucatan. Depois Piste a gente vai ficar nas cidades de Playa del Carmen e Cozumel. Eu vou postar uns fotos do nossa viagem aqui quando chegamos em Carolina do Norte.