A few days ago we were enjoying dinner out. Talking with a family friend, we were asked what we do for a living. It’s never pleasant to answer this question. Not because of the reply per se but, because more often than not, this moment is followed by comments such as:
Well, you’re gonna have to settle down soon!
Since we got married almost 3 years ago, I have stopped counting how many times people (generally older folks, rarely our generation) have tried to “organize” our lives. We MUST settle down. We MUST have a house. We MUST buy nice things. And, most importantly, we MUST get a job.
People can sound so glamorous when they say “I am an entrepreneur” or someone refers to some other individual as a “business person”. But, when you do all of that online, it seems like it doesn’t fully count. If you don’t commute to a shiny office, if you don’t go up the elevator every morning looking crisp with your Starbucks in hand, if you don’t roll around your boss chair in front of a fancy desk, it’s like it is not real.
The Glorification of Work
We live, we travel, we work. We might not be the busiest or most stressed out people on Earth – thankfully! But, as long as we do what we do with our own means, hurting no one in the process, why would that be a bad thing?
I am done with the glorification of work I see all around me. I too have gone up the elevator coffee in hand, while Bloomberg was showing the latest stock market news on the in-elevator TV. I too have received phone calls and BBMs at 11PM and was expected to reply. I too felt like I was important, that I was needed. But the truth is that work went on without me and my life improved greatly when I finally had more time in hand to do things I like. And, sometimes, to simply do nothing at all. Even that is healthy every now and then!
When Stuff Owns You
The world is becoming more and more obsessed with buying stuff and having things. We see it. No matter what part of the world we travel around. The more I realize how people are prisoners of the latest fashion, of the latest gadget and even of their biggest possessions (houses, cars…), the more my desire of having less things gets reassured.
Sure, we too want to have a house some day (personally, I prefer to rent than to buy). I too want to have my kitchen, my full fridge, my couch and my own pillow. But I never want those things to tie me down. I never want to have more than I can handle. I want material things to make my life easier (specially the day we grow this family), but I don’t want them to limit my freedom.
I want to be surrounded by people I can talk about things with. Not company I can compare my latest phone, clothes or shoes with. Because I am not my things. And, also, I am not my job. I am not a travel blogger. I do travel blogging. I AM many more things. What I do or have may be part of who I am, but I am not only what I do or have.
Privilege, Nationality & Borders
I know it’s easy to look down upon owning too many things. At the end of the day, I didn’t grow up with a shortage of anything. And that is a privilege that is important to acknowledge. Our whole lifestyle is an immense privilege, actually.
I have days when I feel like I’d rather belong somewhere. Feel closer to one given community, while being more dependable and having a couple more people I could also depend on. But to travel, just like with anything else in life, you have to make choices. You have to set your priorities straight, knowing that you will never have everything you want at once.
Yet I don’t think I am ready to belong to one place only. It doesn’t matter if I have 2 passports stating that I am from Portugal and Spain and a PIO Card saying that I am also from India. I am from the world! For better or worse, I didn’t choose where I was born. And, on a privileges note, I try to never forget that none of us is directly responsible for the good or bad things that happen in our countries. And this is why it is so important to open our doors when anyone else is in distress. Birds fly ignoring man-made borders … fish swim wherever they feel like… and us humans, the most advanced of all animals, we keep on making the world a more restrictive and unfair place by the day.
We get too attached to our so-called identities, tied to our nationalities, to our religions, to our race, to our age, to our socio-economic status, to our sexual inclinations even..
I know that no place in the world is perfect. And no one has the formula behind being a good human being. But I know that while I have my youth, my health and my freedom, I’m going to be roaming the world. I am going to keep searching for answers, that often present themselves when I didn’t even know I had a question to ask.
As often as possible, go someplace you’ve never been before. Experience new places and new things. You might find yourself with someone or somewhere that makes you much happier than your previous circumstance. The Earth is so vast with unique and beautiful places, why wouldn’t you want to go explore them? – Dalai Lama
Cheers to a new year full of travels!