“In a beautiful short story, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore describes the meandering paths between villages in India. Skipping along, guided by their imaginations or a winding stream, a detour to a beautiful outlook, or stepping around a sharp rock, barefoot children wove zigzag trails through the countryside. When they grew older, got sandals, and began carrying heavy loads, the routes became narrow, straight, and purposeful.”
Frank Ostaseski, The Five Invitations
When last did you take your shoes off and walk barefoot?
Backpacking with someone through a foreign country on a shoestring budget is a great way to get to know them quickly. It’s a new environment every day; you have to trust each other, stick together even when you disagree, and have each other’s back. People’s true colors emerge under pressure.
Living through 2020 is like backpacking on another planet. Australian wildfires, Trump’s impeachment, a global pandemic, closed borders, a whiplash recession, peaceful and violent protesting across the US, Britain’s withdrawal (kind of) from the EU, Iran and the US nearly going to war, postponing the summer Olympics, 2020 Presidential Elections.
Remember how people respond to these events. Change and uncertainty reveal authentic characters and temperaments. You don’t get to know someone’s real character when things are calm and comfortable. Watch people closely and remember who will be your best travel buddies for next time.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke
Remember those sci-fi films where an alien ship is discovered on earth but nobody knows how to fly it because the controls and screens aren’t visible. The intrepid explorer climbs into the ship and then the door automatically closes and the cockpit lights up. The cockpit looks simple and clean from the outside, but we all know there is a some serious alien technology under the hood.
Carl Sagan had the same idea when he wrote the book Contact which later become a movie starring Jodie Foster. The pod that NASA engineers built according to the alien’s directions had no controls or even a seat. All the technology was unseen.
When I look at the SpaceX Dragon cockpit and compare it to the NASA Shuttle it’s like I’m living in a Science Fiction Novel.
What will spaceships look like 50 years from today?
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Break free from your indoctrination and step into your imagination.
Here are a couple of indoctrination factories that seduce you, recruit you, shape you, and end up using you:
Any schools (except Montessori)
Universities with prescriptive degrees
Corporate jobs like accounting firms, law firms, and banking jobs
Here are some of the imagination factories you should seek out:
Cities like San Francisco, New York, LA
Festivals and gatherings with like-minded people who will challenge you
Twitter and Reddit
Book clubs and writing groups
I learned more at university, sitting with my friends at night trying to figure out life than I did in any lecture hall.
In a post-pandemic society, I hope fewer people attend university, and instead, they get busy working and learning. Now that “top tier” universities charge tuition and fees of over $60,000 per year, can you stomach paying that much money to watch classes via Zoom and YouTube? Instead, start a business or learn in the field.
As tertiary education demand drops, I also hope there are less grooming and rote learning type educations at schools where the sole aim of an “education” is to get a child admitted to a university for further indoctrination.
Getting a gold star in the school of imagination is not about the right answers; it’s about asking the right questions.
I predict tears and laughter in airports and train stations across the world when we can travel again. Some people, especially immigrants who have journeyed far away from their birthplaces, likely won’t see family and friends for a really long time. Reuniting with loved ones like children, parents, and grandparents will be a cathartic experience. I do not think people have yet realized that pre-pandemic was the last time we would see the people we loved for a very long time.
Firetrail at Midnight on Mt. Tamapais by J.L. Stanley
Certain places I visit share the same frequency and feel.
It can happen in crowded cities, deserted beaches, or somewhere in suburbia. There don’t need to be dream catchers and wind chimes tinkling in the wind for me to get a feeling that I’ve tapped into a resonance I’ve felt somewhere before.
A couple of years ago, my brother and I were walking down a wooded lane in Mill Valley, California. It was early morning, and the sun was shining through the Redwoods. The road ahead of us that was leading up to the foot of Mount Tamalpais was mottled with patches of light breaking through the leafy canopy. We stopped for a few minutes and enjoyed the silence. As we were standing in the middle of the road, my brother remarked that the feel of the place reminded him of the time he’d spent in Cornwall in South West England.
We started walking again, and the next road we saw was named Cornwall Road. Someone had come to this place before us and tuned in to the same frequency.
Next time you get that feeling that everything feels familiar, it’s worth pausing for a minute and listening. You’ll get to travel around the world without getting on a plane.
We have entered the sticky hot phase of the summer. Ceiling fans are going full tilt, the windows open and the sounds from the street trickling in.
Thank goodness for window screens or it would be bug city.
If aliens from another solar system were on an Earth safari, the best time to view us humans would be early morning before 9am and then after 4pm when we venture back out into the wild as the day cools down.
I love this time of year, as the days start to get shorter and autumn is waiting in the wings.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Traveling to a country where you are a minority and look different, is humbling and builds empathy for other cultures and ethnicities. Walking into a restaurant and being the odd man out before you even open your mouth will make you more welcoming to strangers who stand out in a crowd.
Traveling through a foreign country that has a different religion and customs will teach you that the sun doesn’t revolve around your home country and that other cultures and races are getting on with life just fine without you. You realize there’s not only one way to live.
Be curious, be humble, be open-minded. Travel fuels your creativity and makes you a better global citizen.
Sometimes in life, you’ve got to scratch that itch. Maybe it’s buying an old camper van you’ve always wanted. Perhaps it’s trying a new career, starting a company, living in New York City, making a road trip across the country, writing a book. Scratching that itch may lead to a significant life change, but it’s also may help you lay the ghost and satisfy you. You might love the old camper van, or you might find it’s a real schlepp to maintain, or that a flat battery on a rainy Tuesday morning really sucks. You might see that there are some really long dull spots in a cross-country trip and next time you’d be better off fliying.
Scratch the itch, it’ll satisfy you no matter what the outcome.