I’ve tried to live in many different ways. From living in the suburbs, with my momma, where I had to sleep in the dining room; yes there was a bed there. To having my own studio on the East side of Chicago, and working tirelessly to pay for that sh*t. I’ve tried living with others as well, whether it was with other housemates, to friends, to living and working with a Life Coach where I had to sleep on the floor, for three months. I’ve also spent some time at Hostels, mostly working there, but the living situation was four or more, bunk beds, rooms smelling of sweaty men. Airbnbs were another thing I did, but not for long.
But now I’m back to the regular settled life, here in the city of Krakow. I recently realized that this whole “Settle down life” ain’t for me, it doesn’t fit me. There is another lifestyle though, which I am currently experimenting with, a bike, two pair of clothes, and a hammock for sleep. You ride from city to city, sleeping wherever, doing whatever, it’s ultimate freedom.
Now, this lifestyle ain’t for everybody, but I seem to be doing pretty good at it. Some people would complain that they got to drag that bike around, or that they don’t have enough clothes, or that others are judging them. I’ve had those moments, but you just adapt and stop caring.
But I get it. It’s f*cking difficult, not having the comfort of home, not having all your material possessions… but, maybe we can solve this problem.
I guess the question that I ask myself now is, “is there a lifestyle that can fit you?”. And yes you can take some bullsh*t personality test, or bullsh*t career questionnares, and those will give you an answer like mine “YOU SHOULD WORK ON A BOAT”, I don’t want to work on a boat, I’d throw up all day. To figure out what lifestyle you should live, you should consult your past.
As a child, the thing that I did most was being outdoors, playing with the kids on the street, or going into the forest to make survival tools out of sticks, and on some days we’d even go to street markets and sell stolen goods to adults. Yes, we'd steal them from the market and then resell them.
I lived a small-town life, until the age of ten, when my mother decided to relocate us to the big US of A. We ended up living in a Chicago suburb called Skokie, and that’s where I spent the next ten years of my life.
Things changed when we moved there, my mother became more protective of us, out of the fear that we were going to get kidnapped or whatever was going on in her head. And I get it, you come to a new country, you don’t know anyone, so you put your guard up. But that meant we ended up inside our small apartment most days, and that lead to problems.
There was only one computer, so we’d fight most of the time for “computer time”, my brother would always get the upper hand, because he was the eldest. I even one time threw my dung at him because he wouldn't let me use the computer, and that, uhh... let's not get into it.
With time we learned to get out the house, well, “sneak out”. But that would get us in trouble. There was a yearning to be outdoors, playing with the other kids. So at times we’d sneak out, once or twice we got caught, but eventually mother habituated, so she let us out more.
When I turned 17, my third year of Highschool, I finally gained a bit of independence, dropped out, and started to do things my own way. This meant moving in with a friend, starting a Photography business, and finally being away from that prison of a home.
During the next four years, I traveled to California, where I worked on a food truck and slept in a van, then I headed for the Colorado mountains and got a job at a Ski Resort - what an adventure that was. I ended up traveling whenever I could because travel was freedom to me. Then I returned to Chicago, to momma, where I spent a year confused and depressed. But soon after I left for another adventure, but this time to a far away land.
The life which fits me, is the life on the road. I want to be the wonderer, who is wondering the world, living amongst new cultures, and trying to understand it all. Well, maybe not all, but I can die trying.
I get my happiness when I’m in a new place, doing something that I’ve never done before, something that challenges me and pokes at my ego. The last time I had an experience like this was seven months back when I left for Spain with a friend. She and I worked up in the hills of Cordoba, away from society, from all the noise, just us and a family of five. We painted a house, we fed some chickens, we built things and got our hands dirty gardening; an adventure that will be with us till death.
Adventures like that I miss. I could write hours about all the other adventures which I had, because there were so many. But once you come to the end of such an adventure, what do you do with yourself?
Now, that’s a hard question to answer. Do you go back to your settled life? Do you chase after another experience? It’s like the end of a great movie. You really enjoyed it, but now it’s over, so it’s time to go back home. And you’re left with this weird feeling, like “why did it have to end already?”. But we'll come back to this later.
Society conditions us to believe that we must “make money” to live a joyful life, but I don’t believe that bullsh*t. You spend most of your days hustling at your 9 to 5, and you end up with nothing, maybe some vacation days and a new car.
Money is only needed up to a certain point. Lots of us end up in dead-end jobs trying to pay off all of our material debts. After Highschool we go straight into University, and then into the corporate world, not allowing ourselves to take a bit of time off for travel, to see the world, to experience different cultures.
Now we come to the two different perspectives. One says “settle down, get your sh*t together, make money”, and the other says “travel, see the world, don’t tie yourself down”. I say “settle but travel”. There should be a balance of the two, not just one extreme. Extremes lead to rigid perspectives, and I try to avoid this. Let your mind be free, like the kid you once were.
So now we come back to "what do we do after the movie ends?". Well, it's all about having a balance. But how does one achieve that balance?
The first step is to find yourself a home base, somewhere where you can live for the time being, a place where you can keep your stuff, and where you can come back, to recuperate.
Currently for me, that place is Krakow. It’s safe, it’s quite cheap, and it has everything I need. I do not plan on living here permanently, just until I find a more favorable home base.
A home base should be fairly cheap, it should be convenient to get to, and it should be somewhere where you feel comfortable. The purpose of a home base is for work purposes, recovering, and planning; when you’re on the road, these three are hard to do, that’s why we need a home base.
Now we get into the traveling part. Our trip should have a specific purpose, instead of just wandering the globe or looking for things to do. For example, I’m doing a bike trip right now, and the purpose of this trip is to see a specific region of Poland. My trip has a purpose, and that keeps me motivated and gives me clarity.
So now let’s say you found a work and travel program in Italy, maybe you're going to work at a Ski Resort. The trip is for two to three months. Now, what is the purpose of that trip? Just to work at a Ski Resort in Italy? Could be. But it’s much better to have something a bit more specific, like I am going there to learn Skiing, or to learn Italian for a few months. This gives you something to focus on.
Okay, so now the three or so months have gone by, you learned a bit of Italian, you’re a happy boy/ girl, now what? Where do you go from here? Ohhh sh*t, you don’t have a home base? Do you? Oh wait… you do! So now we head back to the home base, to chill out a bit, take care of business, maybe see family or that sort of fuzzy stuff, and then we plan the next adventure.
The wrong approach is to go off somewhere, overstay, and not have a place to return to. This can only cause confusion and fatigue. I’ve done it, I know.
We now have a balance. We don’t neglect our position in society, we come back from time to time to focus on career stuff, connect with friends and family, and live within the “matrix” for a bit. But then, we also have our life of adventure, where we can travel, have an adventure and learn something interesting and useful. To me, this is a perfect life!
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