This post was inspired by Ashley’s brilliant genius: How I Plan on Making $97,000 While Traveling Latin America. Bitches.
“Trust in the universe is bullshit; trust in one’s self is everything.” – Ashley Ambirge
I’ve spent almost half a year living in a Zen Buddhist monastery and observing the politics of human worldliness in the temple life. I walked 660 km of Palawan island, without a tent and with less than $200, and then spent two months living “back to basics” in an eco-community without toilet paper while eating a raw foods vegan diet. My whole year in 2010 was full of romance. Not in that lovey-dovey partnership sort of way (although there was that, towards the end, thankyouvermuch), but in that idealist dreamer, fuck the status-quo, live your own life, and explore your passions sort of way. It sounds romantic to be a drifter with no home. Walking. Searching. Exploring and Discovering. My total yearly expense for 2010 in SE Asia? Less than $4,000 (Holla!).
When it comes to being off the beaten path, it’s safe to say that I’ve been there.
I fly by the seat of my own pants and go wherever the wind blows me. I count my blessings with each synchronicity, as I trust in the “Universe” and feel gratitude that I have a place to stay for the night. A dilapidated abandoned house to squat in isn’t so bad after eight hours on the road, in the tropical heat that turned my already tan skin about four shades darker. Trusting your intuition and living in flow is all you rely on in this modality. Without it, you won’t survive. Knowing when to stop for the night, which house to pick that seems inhabitable, or which family might take us in, becomes vital. Go too far and it might be another 10 km before another house appears to grace our options, and you can’t afford to be picky. Living becomes surviving but surviving becomes exhausting. The only thing that kept me together is knowing that this was only temporary, and that soon, we would reach our destination.
My boyfriend asked me recently why I decided to walk with him. Having walked the whole island of Luzon, Philippines for two months straight by himself and now Palawan, with me, it was his calling after all. Why did I join? I didn’t have a good answer. I still don’t. It sounded adventurous and daring at the time! A once in a lifetime experience! A jungle seduction and deserted beach rendezvous later, it certainly exceeded my expectations. I wanted to delve deeper in my culture and my land. Experience the natives in a different way than most. But when I really sit down to think about it, the honest answer is I just wanted to delay the work I hope to do out of fear. Fear that committing and starting and failing–again–would mean I’m not making it, and it’s my own responsibility (read: fault). I wanted to explore my surroundings and take my own spiritual pilgrimage before getting back to business. At least then, I would have the excuse of “going with the flow” and trusting in the “Universe” to hide behind, and my “not making it” is a choice, rather than an actual failure.
There isn’t much that separates me from the people living on the streets.
Essentially, I’m homeless. I don’t have a permanent address and I wander, from place to place. Each time I see someone sleeping on the streets on a piece of cardboard it breaks my heart. I could be one of them. But I’m not. Maybe I’m close. I don’t know. Do you know how humbling it is to feel that close to the edge? It’s stressful. And I’ve already said it but, it’s exhausting. There’s a touch of romanticism in this lifestyle. It’s not for everyone and for mostly no one. The pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps survivalist. But why does idealism have to equate to flaky lifestyles one step closer to the dumpster? Isn’t that giving idealists a bad name? Being the “scum of society” or the modern day gutter punks who choose this life isn’t going to elevate humanity, or change the world. It just pisses our parents off, insults people who come from real poverty when you ultimately come from a place of privilege, and rejects status-quo but so what? It doesn’t achieve anything and doesn’t give you enough clout to change society. Because what good is rejection without the impetus for change?
I’m sick of the romance. It’s over. It’s been a nice year but… We need to break up.
We need more than survivalists to change the world. Because what good is surviving when you might not have your basic needs met? Take care of yourself first, then take care of others. Too many times, I’ve thought that “money is the root of all evil”. I thought that being rich and successful was for greedy, superficial people so I chose the path of opposites. But maybe it was exactly my relationship with Romance and the extremes of a nomad lifestyle that made me realize that money is a tool and an exchange of value. You don’t need to be greedy to be rich, and being rich can help you leverage the changes you want to see in this world. Lets face it. Making just $34k (what I used to make in the US) puts you in the top 5% of the world population. This is a modest income by US standards but how are we spending our money? Are we doing anything to help give back to the global community, or to our own communities? What can we do less of to give back more? Your $34k is a privilege and a gift that you should be grateful for. Because ultimately, the top 5% should take responsibility for elevating themselves and eachother and start taking care of the world.
If you don’t value money, you don’t value yourself.
You don’t value what you have to offer or how you can contribute to make people’s lives better. You don’t value your future, or how you can make a living out of your passions because Yes! You can make a living out of what you love. The moment you have money, don’t spend it all until you’re perpetually broke, over and over again. Take care of yourself. Then start taking care of others. If you do the latter without the former, you won’t have enough resources to do the latter smartly, and you might be neglecting yourself in the process. This year, I’m tired of being a survivalist. I want to get rich so I can give back more. Do more. Trusting in the “Universe”, as Ashley eloquently said, is bullshit. Trusting in yourself is everything. Get your idealist romantic right brain out of the driver’s seat and let your logical left brain do some of the work and vital planning in order to start living a life of real intention, instead of the bullshit dandelion-up-your-ass hippy shit that rules your romance. It’s over. Cause baby, it’s time to get rich, bitch.