“If you don’t know what you looking for, just follow what you feel.” – lyrics of Wishing Wells by the Colourist
Today marks halfway through week 9. Wow! Not saying time flies, because I’m having so many experiences that that are easy to remember, and remembering what I did is one measure of how I determine if I was “mindful of the present.” Not sure what other measures of success for mindfulness I could have, but I’m open to hear about yours!
Here, I am going to write about what I’ve been thinking about.
First, budget. I’m roughly on track for how much money I want to spend. It seems like I’ve spent a lot more than I have, somewhere around 4600 so far (not including all these damn ATM fees or the kindle books I’ve bought), but when I consider how much of that was Galapagos alone (2700), buying new clothes (200), language school and a phone (700), I think I’m doing pretty well for 8 weeks! I’m not going super, super cheap, but I’m also not going extravagant either – I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing.
Is it bad that I started out this post with money? LOL.
Oh and confession time. While traveling, it is common for me to reflect on the kind of life that I want to have in the USA. After all, I am traveling the world, meeting different people and different societies and different cultures! I’ll mention 3 things that I am planning to research when I get back:
- Having roses at my bedside and at my kitchen table. The book Rich Bitch says to have roses at your table so that when you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is smile. Awww! Of course, I need the roses to smell, because otherwise, what’s the point?? I’ll try to talk with a florist or someone and see if I can get a deal for buying 2 roses every 3 days for a test run of 2 mos. 🙂
- I want to buy a 6-speed manual sports car! Man, I miss my Mazda Miata!! All the cars here are manuals, of course, and I learned how to ride a manual motorbike yesterday (I have experience with manual cars, and I drove an automatic motorbike in Indonesia for 2 months, but still a little scary for me), so having a manual car is constantly in my mind!! Is that dumb? Like, here I am traveling the world on another continent, exploring different countries and cities and talking with people from literally all parts of the world, and I spend quite a bit of my “fantasy” about life in America thinking about driving a 6-speed manual Miata. LOL! I even spent about an hour today looking into how much a 2008-2010 6-speed Miata would cost and how many miles (roughly 9k for 60-80k miles for those years). Then, for good measure, I looked into trucks and concluded I would need about $3500 to buy a truck around the year 2000 with around 160k miles. 🙂 Go ahead, just laugh.
- Is it feasible to rent a piano? I want to get back into piano and have one at my apartment. Taking lessons, being disciplined (every day, 30 minutes, for instance). Learning to sight-read music again…improvise….etc.
Traveling so much with so many Europeans, in particular, has made me a little resentful of American corporate culture. Like, it’s normal for Americans to have 2-3 weeks of vacation. Are you kidding me?? Europeans get 5-6! 5 weeks, starting out!!! I know a Belgian that gets 7! 7 weeks! I can’t even….No wonder Americans are so miserable!! I need to find a job that gives me enough time off. That, or I guess I could just save up and quit jobs to travel for a year or so every … 3-5 years. 🙂 My first company lasted 3 years and 8 months, so we shall see how the next thing lasts. Can I make a habit out of working 3-5 years and then quitting for my whole life??
I’m thinking about becoming a teacher because while I’m thinking about starting over and just seeing what works…I fantasize about being a teacher and how I would lead the class and what I would cover in my classes (what projects I would assign, what readings I would assign, etc.). I think I will look into economics teaching for high school when I get back. Also, I would get summers off. That’s quite a bit of time off in a row. 🙂 We’ll see if this idea lasts.
During my time here, I’m being reminded of the importance of love. Ironically, I’m not thinking of love in the sense of loving people – though that is a very special thing. I’m actually talking about loving the pilgrimage you’re on, loving the things you take with you, loving the things you give away.
I think of my clothes that I bought – I bought two pairs of water-resistant pants (one light and one with fleece lining for extra warmth). When I saw them in the store and tried them on, I loved them – I genuinely loved these pants. I loved the feeling they gave me when they matched my body so well, when I imagined using them in different contexts. These products gave me tremendous joy because they gave me the feeling that I would be prepared for whatever came. And this love of the products, or of myself with the products, allowed me to easily, and eagerly, give away other clothes that I had (because I needed the space). I think of the Parable by Jesus of the Pearl of Great Price. When you find this pearl, this thing that is so important to you, you easily, happily, joyfully, separate yourself from what is holding you back in order to attain it. I know I just gave a silly example of buying new clothes and separating myself from my old clothes, but it kind of illustrates my feeling also.
I also think of the things that I love that I am giving. For instance, postcards! Postcards are very expensive to mail here to the states ($2.50 a postcard), so I don’t want to buy too many and then have to spend all this money mailing them off, but the few people that I pick to send back are those that I have great love for. I think of my family, my Nai Nai, My Grandma, my adopted grandparents (Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Jack), Jill, and Beth. I love them and I want them to know that I’m thinking about them and that they are special to me and that they bring joy to my life. 🙂 I also think about the attention that I give to fellow travelers. I’m not sure if “friends” is the right word, but I am getting a lot of experience with giving of myself, my attention and thoughts and concern and curiosity to others that I will be with for a couple days (max) and then probably not see again. I know that everything is futile in a sense, but traveling, I think, gives one a greater sense of the enjoyment of the present and not of the “I’m building something that will last” feeling.
On a related note, I think of the love of the pilgrimage that we all find ourselves on. I like the word pilgrimage, and also the word journey, because they both imply, at least to me, a lack of importance for the destination and a focus on the trip, the traveling, the life between the spokes of the wheel (if you favor Buddhist imagery). For instance, the point of the pilgrimage is to transform yourself on the journey. Yes, you are walking to a certain end-point, but as one Christian writer once said, “Maybe the whole point of missionaries going on a lifelong mission is to talk with the people that they meet at the airport before the actual trip”. I like to think about that sometimes, and entertain the possibility that maybe the whole point of me spending a year, or whatever length of time I spend on this trip…is all about one simple experience, one person I meet, one skill that I develop. And everything else was valuable insofar as it brought me there, but ultimately was not the important thing that I did. Not that there’s a plan involved – which I don’t believe that – but just turning the tables of what “value” is and what we value.
(picture is from San Augustin where this culture that we have no idea about…made all these stone statues. I took quite a few selfies trying to match the statue pose lol.)
I’ll close this blog post with a talk about my goals. I basically came to South America for two big reasons and a couple small reasons. The first big reason is to learn Spanish. The second big reason is to have time to develop skills that I couldn’t do in America due to time or monetary constraints. I had reflected on my life and ways that I can get more joy, peace, and love. One of my main conclusions was to use creativity in a physical activity (fighting, carpentry, stone masonry or music or metalwork) and so I decided that I would try to do at least the first 3 – but I didn’t have enough time to do it while working 40+ hrs/week, and I also didn’t have the money to spend because learning those skills are expensive in the states!
Anyway, these are my 3 main skills that I want to develop during my time here, and yet, and I’m only two months in but still, I have not developed any of these skills in any formative or major capacity. I’ve thrown concrete up on a bamboo wall to create half of a concrete wall, so I have some experience with concrete. It was great and very satisfying, but I don’t consider that to satisfy my third goal. 🙂 I’m feeling a little bit anxious about wanting to get at least one of these goals done while I’m in Colombia.
The smaller reasons are that I’ve wanted to live in South America for some weird reason for about 4 years, and I’m very single with no kids, pets, or partners, and I had enough money to do this trip (if I spend my down-payment money for a house). Basically, versions of “why not now do this one weird thing that you’ve wanted to do for 4 years?”
(This is from Isla Isabella of Galapagos.)
So while I’m here in everyone’s favorite country, I figured I would try to figure out a way to hone one of my skills! Once I find a cool place, I will probably just rent an apartment and buy my own food to live cheaply and learn one of these skills.
So far, everything is going pretty well. I’m happy I’m here. I’m not wanting to leave anytime soon. The food is a little bit off-putting, as I really miss American pizza and my Nepali restaurant. I still have not developed a habit of doing a 15-min stretch routine in the mornings, though I do HAVE a stretch routine that I don’t do regularly. 🙂 I also have a workout routine that involves push-ups and boxing moves. But I’m trying to get well before I start doing rigorous physical exercises.