I tend to be more introverted than extroverted meaning I am inside of my head a lot.  I’m not shy, however.   I have my best ideas when I am by myself, in a city or the outdoors, or in a relaxed and open social environment.  I don’t function well in large crowds, or when “noise” takes me out of being present in the moment.  I’m also an observer of life – people, cultures, things and places.  I drink everything in.

I’m passionate.  If I choose to do something then I do it to an almost obsessive degree. In my world, my mind is black or white. I am either all in or nothing at all.  There is no in between.  This type of thinking is what leads me to drop everything and hop on a plane to anywhere in this world by myself.   The thinking also led me to literally hang out of a plane.

There is not a moment to lose in our lives.  I don’t hold back, which is also how I find my extended family growing year by year. Hakim, Gede, Kuenga, Putu, Anna, Ivani, John – they are all my brothers and sisters now and they all live in different countries and are from foreign cultures from my own.   Although they were strangers to me when we met, we quickly bonded and I felt comfortable knowing that we had all met for a reason.  Perhaps a mystical guiding hand led me to this family.  Kuenga tells me we were brothers in a former life and karma has brought us together again in this life. I’m not Buddhist, but it comforts me to believe Kuenga.

When travelling “Pura Vida” rules each day, which literally translates to pure life.  It’s similar to “Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King movies. There are no distractions.  No mobile phone and definitely no social media.  No worries about life, work nor the constant invasions of personal space you find in the city.  Just enjoying the moment for what it is and opening myself to learning about the world around me. There is no rush but there are open arms waiting to welcome me everywhere I go.  Honestly, it is something that must be experienced and cannot be fully explained.

A couple of years ago I was speaking with an acquaintance in Las Vegas.  He asked about my travels and I started telling him about the time I walked over a hundred and twenty miles with a nomadic Berber tribe in Morocco.  I got as far as when I met the Berber father and I couldn’t get the words out to explain what I experienced.  Instead, tears came to my eyes.  My friend put his reassuring hand on my arm and said, “you have a bond with the nomads that only you can share with them.  You can’t with me.”  It’s true.  I can show the photos from the nomad experience and I can tell you superficial bits and pieces from the journey, but the feeling is embedded deep within me.  The bond with the nomads is mine and theirs.

After the conversation with my Las Vegas friend, I began to realize that life isn’t about knowing; it is about being.  And, you can’t always put that into words.  What’s more is some experiences should not see the light of day on social media.  What truly matters is being in the moment, being present with the people around you, and treating every day as if it were your last.  In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t think this could be my last journey.  I’m thankful for every day whether I’m traveling or not.

I’m far from perfect.  Who is?  I don’t worry too much about what others get worked up about.  Our world has become senseless in so many ways which is why travelling is so important to me.  I can be transported out of manufactured madness into genuine settings and relationships.  Life is too short and we only get one chance to make the most of it.  Every day is a new chance.

The “I only get one chance at this life” way of thinking leads me to do a lot of things.  Talking my way backstage at a tango show in Buenos Aires; staying in the Sri Lanka jungle by myself, or watching a sacrifice at a full moon ceremony in Bali.  I rarely pass on an experience even if it opposes my personal beliefs.  Travel helps me grow as a person.  And, if I have the opportunity to help someone, I do it because I may never get the chance again.

So, if I have a choice between playing “it” safe or doing what a guidebook tells me not to miss, and an experience that could be life-changing I choose the life-changing approach every time.  Do I jump, or not?  That’s how I think and approach life and travel.  Travel made me realize I’m stronger and braver than I ever thought possible.  A lot of people ask me how I have the experiences I have while travelling  This is the best explanation.

Can you have similar experiences?  It depends on your thinking and how you approach life.

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