What are you doing with your life?
I mean really… What are you doing? Do you like what you are doing? Are you where you want to be? Are you on the road to getting there?
I have spent far too long living according to other people’s agenda for me. I have lived so much of my life without an awareness that with each step, I myself am making choices and choosing my destiny. I can choose what path to take, how to react to circumstances in my life, who to listen to and who to hang out with. I choose how to spend my time, where to place my thoughts, and what to focus my attention on.
Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.
- Alan Keightley
You don’t have to experience the world in the way you have been told to. You don’t have to be tied to a book, a world view, or a certain city. You don’t have to be a “company man”, a “good Catholic”, or, dare we say it, a “great American.”
The universe is open and free, and this is your time. If you are reading this, you have been given the gift of life and it is now yours to display.
You have broken onto the grand stage of life –a remarkable accomplishment in itself– and now it’s time to play your part. What will that part be? Only you can decide. A world of limitless possibility stands before you.
You can deny it, or you can embrace it.
The wonder of this life and freedom we’ve been given really makes me come alive, and I’d love for you to join me in sharing the experience. Enter your name and email to stay up to date with me.
What I Am Up To…
Tell me if this story sounds familiar.
Once upon a time, I entered kindergarden. Why? Because it was what everyone else did, and my parents wanted me to. Why did they want me to? Well, obviously, so I could get to 1st grade! I succeeded and got to 1st grade.
I entered 1st grade. Why? Because it was what everyone else did and my parents wanted me to. Why did they want me to? Well, obviously, so I could get to 2nd grade. Follow teachers orders, raise your hand to speak, ask permission to use the bathroom. I succeeded at all this and got to 2nd grade.
2nd grade led to 3rd, which was remarkably of the same format as 2nd. 3rd grade led to 4th, more of the same. 4th grade led to 5th. 5th grade led to 6th… and on down the road until I finished all 12 years of compulsory schooling. Why? I don’t know, it’s what everyone else was doing and it was what was expected.
I went to college. Why? I don’t know, it’s what everyone else was doing and was the only way I was going to succeed, so I was told. It was expected of me by all advisers around me. It was the only way I could get a good job.
About half way through college I began to ask myself whether the path I was on was really leading to life or was leading away from life, and just following some social machine designed to get me a job in a large institution, taking orders and doing things I disliked for the rest of my life. It took me awhile to fully take the reigns of a self-directed life in my mid 20s.
A few years have passed since then, and nowadays in my late 20s I consider myself on a quest to experience interesting things, learn, and share. Rather than slave away at some 9-5 job I hate in order to consume things I don’t need and to please people I don’t admire, I’m trying something a little more unpredictable, a little more expansive.
As of 2010, I had yet to become fluent in a foreign language, and to actually live abroad and become familiar with the ins and outs of a different culture than my own. So, eager to explore something mind-expanding, I made the decision to learn Spanish and to go abroad. I started this blog as a way for me to record the steps that I take to achieve fluency in multiple languages, to engage in simple (i.e., 21st-century-preparedness) travel, and to share these experiences with you, my reader.
Not to be limited, though, I’m attempting to find my way as a bootstrap entrepreneur and philosopher / social analyst, with long reaching goals of world transformation along the lines of individual freedom and voluntary communities. So, here and there you might see on this blog some musings on world trends, entrepreneurship, education, and government. (Of course, pure philosophers rarely make a good living, though, so that’s why I have to be an entrepreneur… )
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Speaking Of Philosophy…
Man is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short it is a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two factors. So regarded, man is not yet a self.
- S. Kierkegaard
Allow me to do a little philosophizing with you…
Consider the quote above– it describes existence as something that is, but also is-to-be. This is true, isn’t it? I mean, after all, there is a degree to which “you are who you are”, but also there is an extent to which you are determining– in each moment– who you will be.
This is a profound idea — that we play a part determining who we become– but it’s one that not many people like to deal with because it throws us back into the present moment where we are left face-to-face with our life decisions, how we have handled our circumstances, and what kinds of persons we have allowed ourselves to become.
In my experience, few people have thought about or written on this topic adequately, or helped people to realize their own role in determining their identity. But the fact remains: each moment, every day, you are determining who you will be. You may “be” an alcoholic now, but will you be one in 5 years? You may “have” a mental illness, but is it necessarily true, utterly determined by the brute facts of the universe, that will you have one in 5 years?
If you think necessity has the dominant hand and you ‘are who you are’ you are ignoring what your conscience is telling you… that you play a role in becoming who you are.
Patterns Imposed Upon You
But, I’ll tell you what, there is a battle to fight. There is a battle to fight against limiting beliefs that seek to keep you from your potential.
There are so many patterns and expectations that are being hurled at you every single day about the person you ‘should be’ and what you ‘should do’ with your life. These come especially through your place of work and through the media, and through what is commonly considered to be a ‘given’ by the ‘authorities’ on the subject. At some point, I myself have had to take into consideration the patterns of life that many people were teaching me, some through the actual words they were speaking to me, but more so through their habitual and routine reactions that they take as a ‘given.’
For example… by force of law, growing up I was compelled to attend a school system in which I was expected to take orders from strangers and do what they were told without question and without complaint (After all, who can lead life without having someone tell them what to do?). I was daily subjected to the arbitrary ringing of bells, which structured my day not around pursuits I found valuable or interesting, but around neatly arranged 50 minute segments. (After all, who has time for vast amounts of unscheduled time dallying in pursuits you find interesting?) I had to imbibe an ever-growing mishmash of head-knowledge, regurgitate it day in and day out, and act like I enjoyed it. (After all, who could possibly think that school was an utterly boring waste of time?)
Essentially, I was taught the way of anti-freedom. I had to take each of these patterns imposed upon me and see them for what they were… an attempt to treat me, a human being, as some farmed crop to be grown, measured, and tested, and to force me into a predetermined mold not my own, and surely one not fitted to freedom and expansiveness.
Patterns You Choose
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
I had to realize, though, that at any point in time, always present in the midst of my life was a spark, a consciousness of possibility that offered something different. I had to acknowledge that each moment of the day, I was either exercising my personal ‘sovereignty’ or relegating it to someone else, or worse yet, ignoring it all together. At some deep level I had to start using the spark of possibility rather than deny or mismanage it.
Let me tell you from personal experience that this spark of possibility works wonders in day-to-day life, from relationships and friendships, to perspectives and attitudes, to doing great work. Yet, it especially extends to very earthly, practical matters.
For example, you may be overweight today, but will you be overweight 5 years from now? If not, what are you doing TODAY and each day, to become the kind of person who will not be overweight? It only takes a moment of true awareness to see that you are in a position to make a change. And there are very few areas in which you do not have a substantial degree of freedom to do something different!
Choice even extends to every day human concerns such as managing a time and finances. For example, you may be too busy to lead a healthy life now, but will you be at the same frenetic, high-stress pace 1 year from now? What is your plan to take the reins of your life?
Or, you may be poor today, but will you be at the same level of poverty 5 years from now? If not, what is your plan? What are your life patterns now that when given time assure that you will not be in the same place 5 years from now?
Why Travel Isn’t My Goal
There’s a certain draw towards traveling in and of itself. People who travel seem to have an air of importance and greater experience than those who don’t. I mean, travel is sexy, right??
And, you might think that with a site name like ‘Ryan goes abroad’ that what I’m really interested in is traveling. But this isn’t quite true.
You see, I really don’t like the act of traveling… planes, cars, buses, hostels, long days, nights on the road, cold showers, rice-and-potato dinners. Nor do I like the 3-to-6 day friendships you develop on the road with fellow travelers. Nor the constant need to scrape by on a low budget on your typical “backpacking” trip.
I would say that, instead of traveling, expansiveness is my goal.
You see, in new destinations your mind is opened to new possibilities. Getting to know different cultures makes you sensitive to what beliefs you have been taking as dogma, and need to leave behind. Learning a new language expands your appreciation of the human mind and the art of expressiveness. Dating someone with a completely different personality than say, your average American (if there is such a thing), makes you view the world through a wider lens.
In addition, creating a life that is desirable depends on a certain kind of perspective, and if your perspective is larger, you can take much wiser steps than you otherwise would have.
That’s why I consider a kind of expansive freedom to be abroad and living in a different country than the good ‘ol US. And, there is a way to sustain time abroad, and create a lifestyle conducive to expanding freedom.
Expansiveness In Terms Of Location
Let me tell you about a concept I learned about a few years ago…
‘Location independence’ is the idea that a person can earn his living through the internet in such a way that he can live anywhere in the world provided there is an internet connection. He might build websites, offer consulting, sell physical or information products, grow businesses, or do many other things that enable him to do this, but the fundamental idea is that he earns his living independent of exactly where he is geographically. Location independence thus describes a certain potentiality that a person can develop if he or she can build sufficient income streams.
With my recent interest in world exploration piqued, I have a desire to become location independent as soon as possible. The lifestyle offers so many benefits that are simply unrealizable with a regular job, particularly the benefit of putting YOU in the driver’s seat of where you live. Further down the road, it’s possible to reach a point where living expenses are covered by the passive income you are receiving from businesses and investments. That’s what ‘location independence’ means.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to travel all the time. It just means you are in a position where you could travel and move based on where your interests lie. You could visit Brazil for a few weeks for Carnival. You could spend time in Guatemala learning Spanish. You could live in Hawaii for a month or two on a honeymoon. You could set up a business team in the Philippines.
Just because you are ‘location independent’ doesn’t mean you don’t ‘settle down’, it just means you can be choosy about where you settle down, and where your activities lie. And like a migratory bird, you can spend different seasons in different locations if you so desire.
In fact, it puts you in a better position to do a lot of things… especially like flying to visit friends or family, having the time to help those in need, being able to catch all the great experiences happening around the world.
So… do you see? Travel per se isn’t the goal. Freedom of location is. And this goal goes hand in hand with another goal…
In addition to becoming ‘location independent’, becoming fully financially independent is very attractive to me because it can bring along with it so many other things, namely freedom and opportunity.
I didn’t always have this view of money, but one day I realized that money itself (notwithstanding a few philosophical musings) just seems to be a necessary part of human life. It’s in every society and it is something everybody has to deal with.
As a general principle, I’ve come to believe that becoming wealthy is a praiseworthy goal, not because it’s an end in itself or answers all of life’s questions, but because it frees you up to do what you find interesting, to be less subjected to arbitrary power over you, and to share more with those in need.
Everyone must earn their dollars (or euros, pesos, etc..). Everyone has to earn a living somehow. And better yet, everyone gets a chance at building their own estate.
By the way, your ‘estate’ is just all of the assets you’ve built or accumulated in your lifetime. You’ve already got one, even if it’s just your laptop and your cell phone. It’s basically the visual extension of your wealth.
Your estate is an extension of who you are, and it is a natural part of a developing and expanding freedom.
Now, it is true that some people become a slave to money, and some people are greedy hoards. But this doesn’t have to be the case for you, or for me.
Not everyone who seeks financial gain is inherently greedy, any more than everyone who seeks a sandwich is a glutton. People with big estates can be incredibly generous. People with small estates can be incredibly miserly.
Besides… in this context I’m not even talking about greed itself, i.e. the appetite. I’m talking more about expansiveness, prosperity, and a vibrancy of life. Got it? This is something that is desirable.
Money does not equal greed. Money is something you can use to take back your time, experience more of life, and build a meaning into the world.
I’m also a huge proponent of demolishing the beliefs and life patterns of remaining poor.
Remaining poor is largely a matter of a central belief someone has imbibed about the ‘necessity’ of staying in their condition, or about their condition being a part of ‘who they are.’ Yet they forget who they could be. And thus, they stay stuck.
It can also be a matter of just plain ignorance… So many people have no idea what it means to really make money. The only thought they have in their minds is to exchange their hours for a wage, and their wage for the consumption of the latest toy. They spend and borrow without end, as if somehow this is the way to more happiness in their life.
Having seen the brutality of poverty on more than one occasion, I can tell you that I have absolutely no desire to remain poor… I genuinely desire to become wealthy. Do you?
If so, join the conversation:
How Am I Going To Get There?
All right now, here’s the thing… This is going to take some time.
I realize that becoming geographically and financially independent is not an overnight process (and as I write this I am neither!), but I believe it is a simple manifestation of the laws of sowing and reaping.
A man reaps what he sows. -Ancient Proverb
I believe there is a path to becoming excellent in entrepreneurial endeavors and prosperous in life and business. Part of the path involves a handful of principles, perhaps the biggest one is becoming a person of value who builds relationships by contribution and building. Another big one is joining in on endeavors with like-minded, entrepreneur types who have the passion to create things larger than themselves.
If you can align your life with patterns of value, and persevere through in the work you must do, prosperity will follow.
Additionally, there already exist many smart people in the world who make significant amounts of money because they prioritize their life and execute on the things they know are of value to people. They are savvy decision makers and have a sense of the flow of businesses and economics which enable them to spot demand and create products and services that people want.
These people are alive and well today. I have started to listen to some of these investors/entrepreneurs/lifestyle designers and have found the experience not only invigorating, but supremely refreshing. The creativity and drive of so many entrepreneurs is a wonderful sight to behold.
So, it’s savvy ideas, intelligent decisions, hard work, good partners and good advisors that pave the way. On my email list, I occasionally share what I’m thinking about, who I’m listening to, and what I’m reading along these lines. You can get all these updates too by signing up below:
What Are You Up To?
There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
- C.S. Lewis
I really dislike poverty– poverty of all kinds, really… whether it is poverty of finances, poverty of relationships, poverty of vitality, poverty of health, or poverty of confidence.
Sometimes I am struck with how many people choose to remain in their current state of poverty and do nothing to change their situation. They simply occupy their lives the same way they occupied their seat in school– as if someone else was going to tell them what to do, as if they didn’t have the right to do anything without asking permission, as if they had no will of their own.
Yet the journey up and into a life of health and abundance is something that we must choose every single day, and in every single word and deed. It is not something that will fall on you one day while you stumble out of bed. It is something you create.
My general feeling is that so many people live their lives half-asleep and half-assed, thinking to themselves that they are somehow condemned to a state of poverty, all the while imbibing the ideas and beliefs peddled by institutions who keep them in that state.
It never ceases to amaze me when people do not realize a wide and interesting world, full of adventures and terrifyingly wonderful people and opportunities, exists, but that they have allowed the dead weight of passivity, inertia, and consumerism to dominate their lives and steal their attention.
Sometimes I lie awake at night trying to find some way to get people to listen to these things.
You have got to open your eyes and take advantages of opportunities. You can’t believe everything you’ve been told. You have got to make things happen in your life…
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Summit of Fairview Mountain, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada