Having just emptied out my apartment to get it ready for the ceiling removal, laying sick on my inflatable mattress, staring at the TV but not exactly watching or hearing it, I felt like my entire world had just collapsed. It was just me, a mattress, a TV, and some kitchen stuff. I was too sick to go to work and I didn’t want to see anyone. I felt as if I no longer had control, and I knew I was slowly losing my most precious possession… my health!
I was always in this constant state of anxiety. Anxiety in my case defined as always living in the future, and very often in fear. Constantly stuck on my planning mode, trying to control everything that was to happen, worried about what was to come, always giving a sh*t about the little things, and the big things. I was exhausted! And before I could consciously realize what was happening, my body was already trying to tell me: STOP the madness!
So in that moment, I promised myself “if I get out of this one” I will live in the present. I would try as much as I could to accept the reality of the moment, just as it was, to just see what was in front of me. To be concerned only with what was taking place right then and there, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not even today, but NOW. I also promised myself that I would take time out to do what I always wanted to do; which was to travel the world. Getting away would be my opportunity to practice being in the present. What better way to test yourself than when you are completely outside of your comfort zone?!
I would NOT plan, I would just go with the flow, and I would accept things as they came. It was a chance to truly break FREE from my bad habits, and to live fully in the moment. I would practice mindfulness, or full awareness of my surroundings, enjoying and accepting reality just as it was.
The most meaningful and happiest moments during this trip were not due to material things. They were when I was looking at something beautiful in nature, or sharing a simple moment with someone. It was all about the people around me, and the natural scenery surrounding me. It was the organic setting that was making that moment truly rewarding, NOT things. During my trip I didn’t think about the nice salary, the nice car, the nice apartment, the nice clothes, the shoes. Those things did not matter so much anymore. I didn’t miss them at all. I felt freer and happier with LESS things. I traveled with a 46-liter backpack containing a very basic wardrobe and a smaller backpack with some electronics that allowed me to take photos, write my blog, and connect with loved ones. These things were tools for me to live in my world, but they were NOT my world.
As I traveled I never needed more than these small possessions. And as I changed countries and climates I would just get rid of stuff that no longer served me. If I needed to replace something I would buy it from the local flea markets. I also bought the occasional trinket like a small painting, or a bracelet to keep as souvenirs. One of the best things that actually happened during the trip was getting robbed of ALL my electronics. It hurt at the time because I thought the photos and videos that I had lost represented tangible proof of what I had lived, seen, and accomplished. It took a while for me to realize that what truly mattered were the experiences that I carried in my mind and in my heart. No one could ever take those away. My best memories were of wonderful places and the people that were around me, and the most important thing was having my health to enjoy it all.
This long travel experience made me realize that the material things that had made part of my life were not the things that were adding VALUE to my life. It was the people in my life, and the moments that taught me valuable lessons. And I am fully aware that even the most spectacular moments of my travels will begin to fade away. They will stay in the past and lose their importance; as they say… “out of sight, out of mind”. But the lessons learned during those moments will STAY with me forever. To live in the present, to not plan everything, to leave somethings to chance, to accept people as they are, to not sweat the small stuff, etc.
I never felt freer and richer than when I had the least amount of possessions. When I stopped being concerned about unimportant things, my heart opened up to enjoy the beauty of ALL that was in front of me.