The Paradigm Shift
I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about; I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking 12 miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people—Americans and Europeans—come back and go, ohhhhh. And the light bulb goes on.”-Henry Rollins
Make a drastic change in your life and immerse yourself in a different experience outside of your typical normal life. You get to live in a different perspective if you change gears fast enough. It’s weird until you get used to it. Hopefully you get something out of that experience and it would be weird to revert back to your old self. With every adventure you take, you should come back a little different. Don’t take those experiences for granted.
Have you ever not watched tv for a span of 6 months? Stopped paying attention to the news, didn’t plug music into your ears, and disconnected from the modern world for an extended period of time? It’s easy to forget that human life has drastically changed forever. We’re constantly distracted. We don’t live like our ancestors did and at a glance, it sounds like their life sucked. No fast food, no internet, and physical activity all day. Is it crazy to think of how much happier you can be with less? How about being happy with the simple joys of just being alive? Things are complicated nowadays. Or maybe simplicity drives you stir crazy. How did getting taunted with a salary, a new car, clothes, and television become your life? Raise your hand if you know people who get anxiety over missing an episode of a tv show or have nothing to talk about besides the fake lives of insignificant television personalities. Does anyone else get disturbed when they see this? It may be harder to see if you don’t step out of the bubble and take a hard look at it from the outside. Turn off your phone, leave your headphones, avoid all TV’s, and for the love of god don’t take a picture every single step of the way. Try what it’s like to be occupied with nothing but your thoughts and your surroundings for a few weeks.
Here’s a thought I want to keep in mind for my thru hike attempt: If you’re doing the Appalachian Trail because you’re specifically seeking a life changing experience, remember that change fundamentally starts with you. Change your environment without making any changes to yourself and you may just end up with the same results. Consider how your attitude affects the way people behave around you. Sir Isaac Newton was a smart man. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you’re being a dick, you may suddenly find yourself surrounded by dicks. I don’t know many people that like to be surrounded by dicks.
Uhh, let’s change gears.
Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
I’ll try this one more time. Quitting your job and doing something you’ve never done before doesn’t exactly mean you are going to change. You may just be starting another cycle of self inflicted failure or pessimism. You’ve got to get your head right and carpe diem it up. Don’t do the Appalachian Trail to check it off your list. Do it to enjoy it. Learn from it. Thank mother nature for pissing on you day after day. Fall in love with the little moments and have an affair the next day coming. It’ll be your dirty little secret.
Don’t you dare leave the trail until you can never see the world the same way again. And don’t go back to the same person you were before starting either.
If you are in doubt, just take solace in philosophy.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus
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