Why I Wander and Am Not Lost
“What are you running away from?” My brother asked me a while ago. I’m sure you’ve heard this question before as a frequent traveler!
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re constantly traveling; you gotta run away from something,” says the three years my junior, never having moved away from our hometown guy who seems content with staying in close proximity of Germany’s (our birth place) neighboring countries. How were we raised in the same family?!
“Huh…?” I wondered. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if he was right about that or not because he had asked me this question towards the beginning of my now almost two year journey, when I was still trying to figure out the hows of traveling fulltime and honestly quite struggling with it.
Now I know that I was running away. I was running away from my home country, from my most recent home Los Angeles, and from every trip abroad that followed. After a few days in a new location, I wanted to move on to my next trip. I was looking forward to where I’d go and what I’d do within the next few weeks or months, always chasing the next destination.
I remember the moment when I realized I must be doing something wrong: It was in the chaotic city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, when I had just moved there to try and build a relationship with my ex and things weren’t working out. I was desperately looking for a way to improve our situation and to make the best out of my life because I clearly didn’t know where I was headed.
Then I found myself googling happiness and read The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle where he stresses that only living in the moment will make you happy. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
- “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
- “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
Whew, Eckhardt, my man! But you know what’s most surprising about Mr. Tolle writing this book? Him being German. From what I have observed (and this is obviously a generalization), Germans and “Westerners” are so concerned about time, the future and the past mostly, that they forget to enjoy the moment.
To justify this, here’s an example: Germans are all about being on time. Often they’re five to ten minutes early – meaning they’re likely to stress to get to a meeting on time. When they get there early, they stress about where the other person may be. If the other person is late, they stress about that. So how many minutes of your day are gone stressing about time? The upside of this is our efficiency and things working out as planned, most of the time at least.
After having spent the majority of 2017 in Africa, I’ve come to agree with that “in Europe you have watches but in Africa we have time.” Africans are less concerned about time and able to live in the moment and be grateful for it (yes, I’m also aware of this being a generalization).
Having spent most of my time in Africa, I had no chance but to adapt to this notion of time. Why stress too much if someone’s not on time (there are levels to this, though 😉 )? Why stress if something isn’t working out right away? It isn’t easy, especially for someone coming from Germany, but I’m managing (and still getting there!).
Because of this and because I have now engrained Mr. Tolle’s advice of living in the NOW, I can say I stopped running. I stopped chasing the next experience. The next destination. The next adventure.
Instead I enjoy where I am now; yet, I’m still setting goals and working on my vision board, cuz, you know, a vision (not a plan, because plans fail) is always good and comforting to have. My vision includes running towards new experiences. Towards new people. New lessons. Challenging my own beliefs. And I’m ok with that. Super ok actually. All while appreciating what I have right NOW and enjoying the moment.
So, guess what: now, more than a year after my brother asked me this question, I can finally and with 100% determination answer my brother’s question with:
“Bruh (added for additional determination), I am not running away from anything!” because “not all those who wander are lost” (J.R.R. Tolkien).
Are you wandering and lost? Or have you found your path? Let me know in the comments! If you have found your path, let us know how 😀 !
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