What I’ve Learned from the Road
This article is about what I’ve learned from being on the road and traveling parts of the world.
1.) Never pass up an opportunity to do something new. You might not get a second chance. You really never know what you can learn from one experience no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. I remember back many times where one thing that someone said or one thing that I experienced has stuck with me. I wouldn’t have experienced those things without taking that first step.
2.) People generally want the same thing from life. I have realized from traveling, that no matter how different and diverse a culture is from my own, there are still fundamental similarities at the root. People typically want to enjoy life, take care of their family, and be appreciated for what they do. We are all humans, very little actually separates us at the core.
3.) You cannot fight fire with fire. I believe that this old tidbit of wisdom, is very relevant in our world today. With the many problems that face our society, it is common to look to different avenues for solutions. You cannot correct injustices with more injustices. You cannot fix racism with racism, etc. As Einstein said, “You cannot fix problems using the same level of thinking that created them.”
4.) Most people will never leave home out of fear. Fear guides a lot of people’s lives. I understand that it is for different reasons, so I’ll stop there, but it does. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore” – Andre Gide
5.) Extremism in any religion is dangerous. Religion, God, and the like, are things that I really enjoy discussing with people from different backgrounds. I love how each culture uniquely perceives God, or a god-like figure, and how they see that it applies to their life. I have learned however that ethnocentric thinking (i.e. your religion/culture is superior to others), is inherently bad, regardless of where it comes from. There are extremists in every religion.
6.) There is no better educator than the world. Mother nature has it down. It is quite easy to forget, but our forefathers went through many trials and tribulations to get where we are today. They faced the world’s challenges so we could live at ease today. The world has many lessons to teach. The things that you learn by traveling and interacting with others are invaluable and irreplaceable experiences that one just can’t get from a classroom.
7.) People should work to live, not live to work. Likely this point, will differ in response depending on where you are from. I am not implying that we shouldn’t work or any nonsense like that. What I mean is that people worry too much and forget to enjoy life. To illustrate what I am saying, I heard about a doctor who was asked why he became a doctor. He said, he wanted to make a lot of money then retire and play golf everyday. He made a lot of money, retired well, then died 6 months later from a heart attack.
8.) Most people can’t handle the truth, or most people don’t want to talk about serious things. Apparently, I like to discuss serious things. I get a constant reminder of this every time I am around people who don’t. I always know when I start talking and just receive blank stares. I have had to adapt so that I am surrounded by friends who enjoy similar conversation. I’m not sure the exact root of this, but I suspect it is either rooted in the mindset that ‘knowledge is responsibility’ or ‘I’d rather not know mentality’. I think that because of this, very few people ever speak their mind. What do you think?
9.) Never burn a bridge with anyone, period. This one really applies to everyone. Call it karma, or just fortune, but you should never cut ties with someone unless it is absolutely necessary. Always treat everyone with respect. You never know when they might be in a position to help you.
10.) Formal education is only half the battle. Education should not stop in the classroom. It is not the end all be all. Sure you might learn a range of things in school, but that is not the end of the road. When you have a question about something, go learn about it.
11.) Society’s kryptonite is complacency. Complacency is the rot of our society. When people become complacent, they digress. I believe that many of the problems we have now, are from us becoming complacent. Never be content always seek to better yourself and don’t let things that shouldn’t slide!
12.) Be the better person. Regardless of the situation, if you are reading this website, then you are in the position to be the better person in your life. Don’t stoop to a low-level because someone wrongs you. It might hurt; it might make you mad,but you can be the better person.
13.) There is no better investment than experience. In line with #6, there really is no better investment than experience. Things that you learn by traveling and experiencing the classroom so far exceed what you can learn by being stationary. I’ve heard of “backpacking being considered to be steroids for personal growth”, and it is. A month on the road, could be a lifetime at home.
14.) The definition of success changes by person. What is success to one person, is not necessarily success to another. What is important to one is not even a thought to another. To some, money, fame, and power are symbols of success, to others, waking up next to someone you love is far more important.
15.) Humans cannot handle technology. Those who know me best, know my strange thoughts on technology. I could probably write a book on this topic, but I’ll try to be brief. I am not anti-technology, but I don’t think that it benefits people like we are taught to believe. For example, look at the number of hours people spend on technology. A friend once told me that he calculated the number of days he spent playing video games one year. It was about 37. If you spend an average of just 5 hours a day watching TV or playing on the computer, that’s roughly 76 days a year. In addition, never have we had more information available to us through the internet and other sources, but are our people actually getting any smarter? Personally, I don’t believe that technology is always used for the better.
16.) The phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff,” is backwards. I’m not talking specifically about all the minute details in everyday life, but in a sense, I am. I am talking about those little things that you let slide, that create bigger problems. Like complacency, not caring about the little things is why the big things get there. Metaphorically, small leaks can spring a river overtime.
17.) You will regret not doing it. When I was in 8th grade, I had a class with a teacher who has left somewhat of an impact on me. He left us with something he called, his ‘what-ifs’ speech. He went on to tell us that if you wanted to try something, go for it because if you do not, then you will always wonder ‘what if’ you had. He was right. I see that more everyday.
18.) People will tell you something all day, but it will only be right when you feel it is. Perhaps, it is just because I can be hard-headed at times, but I think that a person only sees the truth in something once they have experienced it for themselves. Remember when you were a child and your parents told you that something was hot? I bet you didn’t believe them until you touched it and got burned, huh?
19.) Unbiased universal education would solve a lot of problems. I know that I harp a lot on education, but it is because I believe in it. We all benefit from an educated society. It raises us all up equally. I believe very firmly in unbiased education though. Just pure, opinion-free information sharing. Something hard to find these days.
20.) If one person says something forget about it. If two people say something, take note. If three people say something, then take action. This one is a bit debatable, but it is a slight hybrid of one of Don Ruiz’s four agreement principles: Don’t take anything personally, whether good or bad.
21.) Quotes about traveling were right. After doing a bit of traveling on my own, I have realized that a lot of the quotes about traveling were correct. Especially this one: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous Huxley
22.) Focus on the apex. In grade school we had a group of people come to give us an inspirational session. They taught us a catchy principle, which is perhaps why it has stuck with me to this day. Focus on the apex. The apex is the highest most point in a wave or a mountain. Focus on whatever your ‘apex’ is and you will keep working towards it.
23.) A life without a passion is a life without a meaning. The best people at what they do are those who are passionate about it. We remember them for being that way.
24.) Be yourself. You won’t get very far living someone else’s life. Never give up or give in to what you don’t believe in. In the end, all that will matter is that you did what made you happy.
25.) The world is a paradox. There are so many things that I see, hear, and experience when I get to travel, that just make me smile. Sometimes, in a world of chaos, you just have to say wow and laugh it off.
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