Why we should travel young – by Jeff Goins.

Hello!

I know, long time, no see, right? Yeah, I have been lagging. But hey, give me a break, I moved to California in July and since then it’s all been absolutely crazy! I mean, school started and it is really hard, let me tell you.

But my fingers have been itching and I need to write here. So I found this blog post by this cool guy named Jeff Goins, and I thought I should post it here so 1) all of you know that I am still alive and well and I intend to write here more often, because I still have a lot to tell. and 2) This article, or blog post, or whatever you wanna call it, is pretty amazing and I could relate to it so much, thought it’d be nice to share with everyone. 

I didn’t write this, I simply got it from this site: http://convergemagazine.com/travel-young-5278/

So here it goes. 

 

As I write this, I’m flying. It’s an incredible concept: to be suspended in the air, moving at two hundred miles an hour — while I read a magazine. Amazing, isn’t it?

I woke up at three a.m. this morning. Long before the sun rose, thirty people loaded up three conversion vans and drove two hours to the San Juan airport. Our trip was finished. It was time to go home. But we were changed.

As I sit, waiting for the flight attendant to bring my ginger ale, I’m left wondering why I travel at all. The other night, I was reminded why I do it — why I believe this discipline of travel is worth all the hassle.

I was leading a missions trip in Puerto Rico. After a day of work, as we were driving back to the church where we were staying, one of the young women brought up a question.

“Do you think I should go to graduate school or move to Africa?”

I don’t think she was talking to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t. But that didn’t stop me from offering my opinion.

I told her to travel. Hands down. No excuses. Just go.

She sighed, nodding. “Yeah, but…”

I had heard this excuse before, and I didn’t buy it. I knew the “yeah-but” intimately. I had uttered it many times before. The words seem innocuous enough, but are actually quite fatal.

Yeah, but …

… what about debt?

 

… what about my job?

… what about my boyfriend?

This phrase is lethal. It makes it sound like we have the best of intentions, when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards while sounding noble.

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did it. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job still did those things after they traveled.

It reminded me of Dr. Eisenhautz and the men’s locker room.

Dr. Eisenhautz was a German professor at my college. I didn’t study German, but I was a foreign language student so we knew each other. This explains why he felt the need to strike up a conversation with me at six o’clock one morning.

I was about to start working out, and he had just finished. We were both getting dressed in the locker room. It was, to say the least, a little awkward — two grown men shooting the breeze while taking off their clothes.

“You come here often?” he asked. I could have laughed.

“Um, yeah, I guess,” I said, still wiping the crusted pieces of whatever out of my eyes.

“That’s great,” he said. “Just great.”

I nodded, not really paying attention. He had already had his adrenaline shot; I was still waiting for mine. I somehow uttered that a friend and I had been coming to the gym for a few weeks now, about three times a week.

“Great,” Dr. Eisenhautz repeated. He paused as if to reflect on what he would say next. Then, he just blurted it out. The most profound thing I had heard in my life.

“The habits you form here will be with you for the rest of your life.”

Photos by Geoff Heith

My head jerked up, my eyes got big, and I stared at him, letting the words soak into my half-conscious mind. He nodded, said a gruff goodbye, and left. I was dumbfounded.

The words reverberated in my mind for the rest of the day. Years later, they still haunt me. It’s true — the habits you form early in life will, most likely, be with you for the rest of your existence.

I have seen this fact proven repeatedly. My friends who drank a lot in college drink in larger quantities today. Back then, we called it “partying.” Now, it has a less glamorous name: alcoholism. There are other examples. The guys and girls who slept around back then now have babies and unfaithful marriages. Those with no ambition then are still working the same dead end jobs.

“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle once said. While I don’t want to sound all gloom-and-doom, and I believe your life can turn around at any moment, there is an important lesson here: life is a result of intentional habits. So I decided to do the things that were most important to me first, not last.

After graduating college, I joined a band and traveled across North America for nine months. With six of my peers, I performed at schools, churches, and prisons. We even spent a month in Taiwan on our overseas tour. (We were huge in Taiwan.)

As part of our low-cost travel budget, we usually stayed in people’s homes. Over dinner or in conversation later in the evening, it would almost always come up — the statement I dreaded. As we were conversing about life on the road — the challenges of long days, being cooped up in a van, and always being on the move — some well-intentioned adult would say, “It’s great that you’re doing this … while you’re still young.”

Ouch. Those last words — while you’re still young — stung like a squirt of lemon juice in the eye (a sensation with which I am well acquainted). They reeked of vicarious longing and mid-life regret. I hated hearing that phrase.

I wanted to shout back,

“No, this is NOT great while I’m still young! It’s great for the rest of my life! You don’t understand. This is not just a thing I’m doing to kill time. This is my calling! My life! I don’t want what you have. I will always be an adventurer.”

In a year, I will turn thirty. Now I realize how wrong I was. Regardless of the intent of those words, there was wisdom in them.

As we get older, life can just sort of happen to us. Whatever we end up doing, we often end up with more responsibilities, more burdens, more obligations. This is not always bad. In fact, in many cases it is really good. It means you’re influencing people, leaving a legacy.

Youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important. The best way to do that is to make investments in your life so that you can have an effect on who you are in your later years.

I did this by traveling. Not for the sake of being a tourist, but to discover the beauty of life — to remember that I am not complete.

There is nothing like riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge or seeing the Coliseum at sunset. I wish I could paint a picture for you of how incredible the Guatemalan mountains are or what a rush it is to appear on Italian TV. Even the amazing photographs I have of Niagara Falls and the American Midwest countryside do not do these experiences justice. I can’t tell you how beautiful southern Spain is from the vantage point of a train; you have to experience it yourself. The only way you can relate is by seeing them.

While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Appalachian trail. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.

Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day.

While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel, young person. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion. While you still can.

Do not squander this time. You will never have it again. You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely.

And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.

That’s what it did for me, anyway.

 

 

 

 

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Paris, je ne regrette rien PART III

A few other things I wanted to tell you if you’re going to Paris.

You don’t need to Couch Surf if you don’t want to, but hang out with some locals. They will take you places you wouldn’t go if you were there by yourself or with a friend who doesn’t know the place either. Besides, the touristic places are awesome, INDEED, but the unknown part of Paris (unknown to tourists, that is…) is also amazing. Go on an adventure! :)

OKAY, SO, ready to read about my last day?

So, I was alone, wandering around town, finding cool things to do, being a tourist, taking a thousand pics, etc etc etc.

I went to the Louvre on the day before but I still had time to go to another museum and I really really wanted to go to the d’Orsay. The d’Orsay has mainly french art…well, there is a little of everything. I went there because I love Monet and Van Gogh and they have their paintings etc there. They also have Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, RODIN!…all those extremely amazing guys, you know! And it is breath taking. It really is. It’s kind of like you’re entering the art, you feel it so close to you, it’s so beautiful, so…perfect. Everything. The sculptures, the furniture…. It made me want to live in those times.

This is the outside of the Musée d'Orsay. :)

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures of anything inside of the museum and I chose to respect that. I also bought a book with all the art that was exhibited in the museum. I read it sometimes just to have a little ”taste” of Paris haha.

The best part of my trip though, was my last moments in the city. I had left my luggage at the Gare du Nord locker room and I had to take a metro there, get my stuff, then take a train to the airport. But I still had a few hours left to enjoy France.
On my way out of the museum, I heard this beautiful music and followed it. It was a street performer. The music fit the moment just perfectly. The sky was grey and it looked like it was about to rain. But no one cared. I joined the crowd and sat down to watch the guy play. Then I saw that there was another street performer. Well, actually, two more, if you count the crazy old dude who made everyone laugh when he scared people walking by.
The other artist was a guy in his 30’s with roller skates, doing all kinds of crazy acrobatic things. And the funny thing is, even though the roller dude and the musician had nothing to do with each other, they were in perfect syntony. It was beautiful watching both of them (and the crazy old dude in the back goofing around).

So I sat there and watched. I gave them a few coins. I clapped. I filmed. And then the music hit me.
That was the perfect moment. One of those moments where you think:

This is exactly where I want to be. 

 And it was. I looked around me and I thought to myself ”oh my, this is perfection. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.” Tears came down my face, but you know, tears of joy. I was so happy… The people there were so peaceful, watching those talented, honest street performers…the kids running around…the sky was not blue, but it was perfect. Everything was perfect.
Then it started raining a little and no one got up. We just stayed there appreciating such an astonishing, dazzling moment.

When they were done with their presentations, people got up with the biggest smiles on their faces, like something there had happened and only who were there, could understand. We felt light, relaxed, blissful, satisfied.

Then it started pouring. And I had almost no time left to walk around so I took a cab to the Notre-Dame de Paris. Yes, the Hunchback’s church. haha
I went inside with a bunch of other people who were running and hiding from the rain and took a few pictures, then had to run to the metro station, then the airport. That was also a cool moment. Everyone together hiding from the rain when we all realized we were inside of one of the most beautiful churches ever. Then we relaxed and forgot about the rain.

When I went outside, ready to run to the airport…the Sun was shining again. It was gorgeous. :)
I walked around trying to find the right metro then there I went….to a long long trip back home.

To sum this up and finish this story already….here is what happened on my last minutes in France:

  1. I go in the wrong train.
  2. An awesome African lady yelled at me (in a nice way) and told me I was in the wrong train, then she helped me get out and get on the right one….
  3. I met this boy who started laughing at me because we were actually in the same situation…he was in the wrong train too…
  4. We talked all the way to the airport. He was from Toulouse. Next place I wanna visit!
  5. I got stuck at the entry of the airport with my suitcase, broke the machine….Ran away.
  6. Talked some more with my new friend.
  7. Said good-bye, then realized we never introduced ourselves so we’ll never hear from each other ever ever.
  8. Checked-in.
  9. Bought macaroons and food. Called my mom on Skype.
  10. Got in the plane.
  11. Got some wine, watched a bunch of movies…
  12. And got home. (kk, after 10 hours….)

And that was my trip to Paris.
Unforgettable.

Paris, non, je ne regrette rien. Part DEUX.

Sam, my couch surfer host, told me he wouldn’t go to any touristic places with me. I didn’t find that rude at all, I totally understood.
But we did go to the Eiffel tower. Except, we biked there, and brought books. We didn’t stay in the huge line to go up to the top. And no, I don’t regret it. First because I will go back to Paris and I will have the opportunity to go to the top of the tower. And second, because Sam and I did something i seem to enjoy a lot more. We sat down on the grass in front of the tower and …we read. I was reading Franny & Zooey  by J.D. Salinger, and Sam…well, I have no idea. But it was the best feeling ever. Then we observed the people who were hanging out at the park. We talked. It was amazing.
In July/August (or, summertime…) there is this thing called Paris Plages.  Since there is no beach in Paris, they MADE one. It’s the cutest little thing, by the Seine River. It’s basically a artificial beach. There are beach chairs and beach umbrellas, and people hang out there, as if they really were at the beach. It’s actually quite fun.
Me and Sam spent some time there, too.

Paris Plages, at night.

On my last two days, I was on my own. Sam had to work and I wanted to go sightseeing and I definitely wanted to go to the museums because I love that kind of thing. I really do.
First, I went out to lunch with a friend I met ONLINE. Seriously, I did that. We had been talking for months and that was our opportunity to meet each other. François and I had lunch at this delicious little restaurant. Again, French food is …wow, I have no words to describe it, actually.

THEN, after fearing I’d get lost in the subway, I decided I knew how to get around, at least enough to get to the Louvre.

So I went to the Louvre and spent 4 and a half hours there. Did not see HALF of what’s in there. One more thing to put on my ”things to do when I go back to Paris” list.
But it was great. I took the little map of the Louvre and tried organizing myself to go in the right order of the little numbers, so I could keep track of the things I had seen and what I hadn’t. I did see a lot. And I was in awe, the whole entire time.
I have this….passion for art and ”old” things. All the paintings, the sculptures…the history behind it. It all fascinates me. I could spend a whole day at a museum like the Louvre anytime. I love it love it love it.

If you’re going to Paris, take some time to go to the Louvre. I mean, if that kind of thing interests you. Because if it does, it’s obviously a must-do.
But it’s important to remember that they aren’t open on Tuesdays. I have friends who made that mistake: they went to Paris and when they went to the Louvre, it was closed. And they didn’t have a lot of time in the city, so that was a bummer…
It’s open every day EXCEPT for Tuesdays, from 9 AM to 6PM.
You should also check the website because they have special exhibitions. And on the way out, check the shop. I bought a great book with a lot of the paintings.

When I was ”done” at the Louvre,  I wanted to walk a little. There’s a beautiful garden right on the way out, in the back of the museum, and little restaurants out in the open. I had the most amazing orange flavored Crème brûlée, took a few minutes to admire the scene around me….the whole time thinking ”am I really here???”.
THEN…It was shopping time. Walking a few minutes straight from the Louvre, it’s the famous Champs-Élysées.
I went crazy. I went in almost every store, tried a bunch of shoes, clothes, bought a lot of cute little dresses and makeup and books and CD’s (yes, they still exist) and a French book so i could practice a little everyday, etc etc etc.
It was really just too much, I know i exaggerated but…again…Je ne regrette rien (I don’t regret anything.)
I had to take a cab back to Sam’s house. He was quite impressed with all my shopping. The hard part was making it all fit in my suitcase. But I did it. haha

Tomorrow I will post about my last day in Paris and post a few pics, too. Here are a few tips if you’re planning on going there.

  • Try researching about the city, the city history, weather etc.
  • It won’t hurt you to try to learn at least a few words and expressions in French. It’s not that they won’t treat you well if you speak English, but put yourself in their place: a lot of them DON’T know English. And, they’ll probably appreciate the effort and treat you really well if you say a few words. Even if you try some mime with it. ”Bonjour – ”hello”, merci – ”thank you”, – ”S’il vous plait – thank you” etc etc etc

  • Shop. Really, do. Doesn’t need to be at Champs-Élysées, but do. There are a lot of nice shops around town. And don’t forget to be nice to the people who work in the shops. Say ”bonjour madame, monsieur, mademoiselle”, ”merci”, ”au revoir”….
  • Go to the cafés. There are a LOT of them around Paris. Bring a book, have some coffee, some macaroons, crepes…No hurry. Remember, you’re there to enjoy yourself, the city, the people, the food. Sit down. Relax, drink your cup of coffee in PEACE. Enjoy the moment. Don’t just grab a cup and leave.
  • Take the metro. There are a lot of weird people there haha, but it’s a good way to get around easily, besides de bikes. And don’t forget to KEEP your purple ticket. You might need it, in case the police wants to see it, etc.
  • Go to MUSEUMS. Not just the Louvre. Here is a LIST of all the Museums in the city. http://www.parisnotes.com/museums/parismuseums.html Unfortunately, I only went to two. But there are many options.
  • Ride the bikes.
  • Drink wine.
  • Wake up early to go to a boulangerie, to buy fresh out of the oven Baguettes. It’s like a party in your mouth and tummy.
  • Don’t be picky. Try new things.

And here is the most important tip:
Do not go to Paris with that cliché pre-formed opinion that they’re all going to be rude and treat you badly. I think that the way you should look at it is: Smile at people, they’ll smile back at you. Smile at the WORLD and it will smile back at you. It’s simple. And, yeah, of course, sometimes you’ll run into someone who’s not in a good day and they might not be the nicest to you, but overlook that and be nice to them ANYWAYS. Your politeness and education should NOT depend on theirs.

 

Très bien, I think that’s all for today!