In Pursuit Of Meaningful Experiences: Travel And People

December 27, 2009 § 1 Comment

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People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
-Joseph Campbell, The Power Of Myth

I thought I would take some time to write about how I spend the most finite of my resources, which is 1. time, and 2. money. This is written to myself as a self introspective.

Every hour or dollar that you spend would have some repercussion eventually down the road, but more so of time, since it can’t be earned the way money can.

The little things you come into contact with in life can have profound influences on yourself, even if you don’t notice it immediately. A book, a conversation with an acquaintance, maybe a Sunday movie with friends, and that three weeks of vagabonding in Nepal. These are the experiences you’ll want to actively seek: those that leave you somewhat changed, hopefully for the better. You then want these experiences contribute to a richer mental being, and put it all to good use, making us better people, and in turn help make the lives of those around you better too.

What are these life-changing experiences that you can find to put into “good use”? For many, the experiences that seem to yield the richest experiences are: personal travel, genuine human interactions, books and movies. There might be more, but these are the four that you may have noticed in daily life.

Personal Travel

I’ve written much about how personal travel leaves a deep imprint on me, but some points bears repeating. Mainly because personal travel gives me access to my inner thoughts and state of mind that staying at home just can’t. Sticking to our daily routines, we are exposed to the one or two ways of living that we’ve known all our life. Thats fine by all means. But I’ve found that my knowledge of the world and of people increases exponentially when our experiences in foreign lands makes us question the assumptions about daily life we’ve always held.

Assumptions? What assumptions are there? you ask. The assumption that what you’re doing now is the best and only possible way to live. Every other way is wrong. Derek Sivers makes an excellent explanation of this paradox of assumptions with a simple example of Japanese addresses.

Questioning assumptions enables a more creative life, while giving you more options. What is said to be true at home may not be true elsewhere around the world, and vice versa.

Human Interactions

Human interaction as a force for meaningful change and unique experiences might not be too much of a surprise here. You will have met people whom you have interacted with, and have affected your decisions in life. He or she could have even played a significant hand in the outcomes of your actions.

Malcolm Gladwell alludes to the importance of the people we meet in Outliers. Many of the most successful people don’t really fit into the “did-it-himself” or “self-made-man” heartwarming stories. Success here refers to happiness and contentment with lives, not simply monetary achievement. Along their paths to destiny, these individuals were dealt favourable cards by important people they had good luck (and smarts) to come into contact with.  It is safe to say that without them, they won’t be where they got to eventually.

I am convinced that success on any scale probably won’t be the story of lone wolves. The people we meet open doors of opportunity for us. If this is one of your sticking points, you may see it in the tendency to work alone to enjoy the benefits of little interruption and needless chitchat.

***

Part 2 next week

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§ One Response to In Pursuit Of Meaningful Experiences: Travel And People

  • jonkeim says:

    I have enjoyed this post!! I too believe we are a species that seeks out human interaction and have an inheirant desire to travel. Unfortunately in this western industrialized world we have been groomed from generation to generation not to travel and have a mind set that doesn’t favor wanting to discover and appreciate other cultures and people.

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