To love someone is to love them without possessing them, without owning them. In the past I thought that jealousy and possessiveness were a sign of love, but then I realised that they are only a sign of an inflated ego. The ego that wants to own things and people.
I have been in relationships where I have felt restricted, to a lesser or higher degree. I knew that my partner disapproved of some of my ways or disagreed if I did certain things. This felt suffocating.
I’m going to share a skill that a child can learn in just a few minutes. But even though it’s a very simple to learn, it takes a lifetime to master. First, a story.
I’m usually a light sleeper. But a few months ago, in the middle of the night, my wife had to shake me awake. “David, I’m scared,” she said. “What’s happened now?” I asked. For the past three nights we’d been kept awake by our neighbour, Kendrick*. He’d been banging the walls with what sounded like a hammer. He’d been having a midnight bonfire in his garden, burning furniture that he threw out of the window. He’d been playing booming music. And he’d been wandering the streets outside our house with a large knife in his hand. Kendrick was a drug addict, and we’d been having a merry time of it.
As a couch potato and irregular exerciser, I was in a painful place. One of the hardest things to do is taking those first steps on the way to regular exercise. Because I continually started and stopped exercising, I was often taking those first steps. Then a few weeks later, I’d notice that I was no longer exercising again and the cycle would repeat itself.
One day, the mantra was interrupted with the thought ‘What if I changed my thinking?’ Maybe I could just accept exercise as ‘something that I did’, a bit like cleaning my teeth. That was the beginning of the end of my love affair with the couch.
The saying goes, “Every journey begins with a single step.” For me, at least, the problem isn’t that first step. I can delve into projects with great enthusiasm, no problem. It’s usually step number 352 that gets me down. Then, through lack of energy or simple frustration, I simply get off the road.
Achieving a goal often feels more like a bell curve to me. The beginning is great, and when I reach the end, all is well. It’s that pesky middle area, when the bump in the road appears and I feel like I’m running uphill for miles, that’s the hardest to overcome. I keep looking for the end to be in sight, and when I can’t see it, I can get discouraged and give up.
“I don’t want to wake up,” I remember thinking to myself. I had no idea what went wrong. All I knew was that getting out of bed would only make things worse. But I had no choice, I had to go to work. I was doing an internship at Sun Microsystems at a time. I was getting paid quite well and looking forward to a “bright future.”
It fit perfectly into my plans. I was going to become a manager at a software company! And what’s better for that than a reference letter from a reputable company? Everything was going according to plan. There was only one little problem: I hated my life.
If you had told me three years ago that I would be writing this now from a colonial casita in Merida, Mexico, I would have responded “Yeah, right…”. But just over three months into a seven-month trip, here I am – and I won’t ever say “Yeah, right…” again. Travel has changed my life. And I think it could change yours too.
Travel (especially long-term travel) isn’t for everyone. If you’ve thought about it and are on the fence when it comes to traveling, however, I can assure you that the experiences, benefits and perspective you get are too good to miss. Here are some of the most life-changing aspects I’ve experienced over the past few months: