I am not one of those who equates their personal identity with the job they do. I have never felt worthless or less of a man because I don’t have a career. The lack of salary and a daily routine is also largely not a problem….after all, that has been my life for 7 years. I do not have the uniquely American productivity obsession, nor the misguided notion that work in itself has value.

In fact, unemployment affects me little in most respects. And that is the problem: Because I cannot adamantly and passionately identify my situation as bad, I cannot change my behavior.

People make decisions when their gut tells them that the status quo is unacceptable. I logically accept that my situation needs a change; however, my emotions have not followed suit. I need to feel it. “Feeling it” will not, of course, magically get me the job I want. But most of us realize that logic is a tool, not a motivator. You’ve got to want it, not know in your head that you should want it.

I have built a life (perhaps unrealistically) on chasing my heart’s desire. I only know how to do what I really want to do. Now I am in partial conflict with that and my past has me on a whipping post.

There is a skill people have that goes unnoticed because so many have it. It is called ‘doing things they don’t want now because they feel it will pay off in the long run’.

I have always said that the long run never comes. I do what I want now. In the long run we are all dead. And that is largely true, but it mustn’t always be true, otherwise what the hell are we all doing? There comes a time when there is something you want, but the time horizon is necessarily longer…years longer. Not everything can happen in six months.

Travel seriously shortens your time horizon. I was in another country yesterday. I’ve fallen in love twice in as many weeks. I sleep in a different bed every night. I rarely spend the same currency for more than a week. Time slows down. It all happens in a flash and there is no time frame. The present becomes everything and lasts forever. It is a useless and misplaced question to ask someone what they will be doing in six months when so much will happen in the next six weeks.

Its funny. The decisions you make trigger a series of events that shape your personality. Your past is you. It creates you and you are chained to what has happened. Sure…you make the initial decisions, but it is the event that shapes you. And how they play out is largely out of your control. The decisions are simply brief focal points. What endures is the experience…an experience you don’t control but defines how you view the world. To say your past has an enormous effect on you is a gross understatement. Indeed, your past in the only thing that does affect you.

On a whim I decided to study abroad in 1995. I could never have anticipated the chain of events it caused. I had no idea the effect it would have on me. Could I have known that because I drew such satisfaction and community from an environment where few worked and no one talked about jobs that it would cause me to so utterly devalue the work for food/career is life mentality? Could I have anticipated that the intensity of relationships and novelty of daily life one finds traveling would cause me to be bored with ordinary life? Could I have known that the speed at which everything happens while on the road would train me to think for the short term and disregard long time horizons as irrelevant? Could I have foreseen that raising my standards for what is possible in life and then having to live in a world that hasn’t would make me bitter?

When travelling there is a great opportunity for a real relationship. That is because there is no reason to talk to anyone other than for their own good company. No one likes you because of who you are, who you know, what you have, how you are educated or what you can do for them. Everyone is equal on the road. You have a backpack and a few changes of clothes…period. Your connections are all thousands of miles away. You are nobody and get by on your own merit or not at all. You talk to or travel with someone because you like them. There is nothing else they can possibly offer. Could I have known that because there are so many real relationships (however brief) while travelling that it would make me hyper-sensitive to any other kind and thus unable to relate to the majority of people on a deeper level?

These things are impossible to know, but have shaped my life. And so you see how you become your past.

There are some who would point out that I am romanticizing travel and that nothing is so perfect. That is somewhat true, but not the topic of this entry.

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