Posts Tagged ‘Thoreau’

The dream

April 13th, 2009

I have met a handful of vagabonds on my journey and all of them share the same story – they have chosen this path.  Indeed, they have chosen wisely.  In the words of Georgia O’Keefe:

I always felt as though I walked the edge of a knife, afraid to fall off. So what? What if you do fall? I would rather be doing something I really wanted to do.

In the high pressures of Silicon Valley and beyond, one chooses his own vocation, whether that is one with the highest pay, one with the most prestige, or one that supports the family.  It is unfortunate when one works at a job that he loathes merely to maintain a high standard of living.  It is equally unfortunate, where, when one hears of a colleague or neighbor who makes more, desires himself to be at least on equal footing so that he can “get ahead” of the game only to sadly find out that the cycle repeats itself in a more furious fashion.  By then, the person is headstrong in his ways and finds it extremely hard to let go of his grandiloquent lifestyle and even continues on the unsatisfactory job that has left him in a state of inanition, convincing himself that one day, the problem will solve itself and that in the interim, the weekend will dissolve all worries.  For him, the work week is too long, the weekend is too short, and Monday seems to always come too quickly, but all is okay because better linens can be afforded, faster cars can be driven, and finer foods can be consumed.  Why should one submit to the feet of societal pressures only to be chewed, mangled, and spit out?  Thoreau elucidates this well:

… but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system – and so it was broad as it was long, indeed it was broader than it was long, for he was discontented and wasted his life into the bargain; and yet he had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day.  But the only true America is that country where you are at liberty to pursue such a mode of life as may enable you to do without these, and where the state does not endeavor to compel you to sustain the slavery and war and other superfluous expenses which directly or indirectly result from the use of such things.

There’s a commonly used ice breaker called “The dream job”.  In the past four years that I have played this game, I have met only one who is living his dream.  All others mention of jobs that they wish they could be doing, and I suspect that four years down the line, few will have taken steps to make this dream job a reality.  The majority of the conscious weekday hours are spent working.  Don’t succumb to a mediocre existence and lull in misery over a paycheck.  Follow your dreams.

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March 25th, 2009

Many have inquired about why I chose to do a solo trip.  I would fain say something, not about why I chose this route, but about what I observed.  Most people are frightened, or, in the very least anxious about doing anything by themselves.  Many cannot escape common fears that pervade mankind – the fear of rejection, the fear of being judged, among a myriad of others.  It is never too late to give up our fears and our prejudices.  There is no concept so new or a practice so old that should not be put to the test.  And to test it we should, because it is the only way to better ourselves, to elevate mankind, and to acquiesce to the inner voice that bellows for truth.

Before I left, my mentor mentioned that extended travel with companions is destined for failure if everyone doesn’t share the same vision. I have been reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and it has spoken volumes to me. Though it has passed its sesquicentennial, the book holds timeless wisdom:

I heard it proposed lately that two young men should travel together over the world, the one without money, earning his means as he went, before the mast and behind the plow, the other carrying a bill of exchange in his pocket. It was easy to see that they could not long be companions or co-operate, since one would not operate at all. They would part at the first interesting crisis in their adventures. Above all, as I have implied, the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.

It is hard to find someone whom shares the same musings and insights. It is equally tough to discover another whom shares the same lifestyle and temperament.  When you find the person that satisfies all these, hold on dearly.  Such individuals come by once in a blue moon.

I suspect that marriage can be analogized to companions on a road trip.  When the going gets tough, it often seems easier to leave than it does to solve problems.  Modern day technological advances and conveniences were supposed to indicate a more satisfied and fulfilled life.  Yet in the country that leads others in these respects by a wide margin, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce.  Could one of the main ingredients for a successful marriage be to have a similar vision in life?

Good night, and good luck.

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