Forced Humility

Despite my declarations of humility and announcements of having a decent handle on life, I am still human and I am able to trick myself into believing things which aren’t entirely true.

I gave myself a huge slap in the face by missing my $300 flight to Australia, and proving to myself that I am, indeed, not always great.

I had painted an elaborate and beautiful picture of myself which I held high and was happy to share to the world.

“I am organized, I am responsible, I am lucky, I am wise, smart, ambitious, resourceful, and flexible.”

I am living my dreams of travel and writing a blog after all, why wouldn’t I be these things?

Slap!

Beliefs of ones character, especially the self delusional ones, are different from reality without application.

They say it’s difficult to practice what you preach and I found this out first hand in a 300 dollar sort of way.

So what caused me to miss my flight?

I had arrived 45 minuets before departure, but the airline had closed check-in merely minutes before I had arrived. Scoot, an evil Singaporean airline, would not let me through no matter how decent I behaved and no matter how much I pleaded with managers and staff.

For 45 minutes I had to bear the thought of my plane being so near yet so out of reach.

Ultimately, the airline was being extremely unfair. I didn’t have any need to check my bag, carry on would have sufficed, and the lines through security were short as well. Logic would have let me “Scoot” on through to catch my flight just in time.

But logic is not how many airlines approach business when greed is involved, especially airlines from Singapore, and this is something I understood.

So why wasn’t I there 2 hours before departure like all airlines advise for international flights?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I approached my flight this way. I simply wasn’t thinking. I have no real excuse for myself and this is the biggest disappointment of all, my lack of actual effort.

Too often I have let my luck and looks drive circumstances and have conned it off as wisdom and resourcefulness. This day was a brutal reminder of my faults, lack of proper planning and responsibility, and it awakened me to my false sense of self.

This reminder has been a bit more painful than the hole in my bank account.

I can see a silver lining in this experience, however. There is often one when you look hard enough.

To know ones faults is the first step to self progression. Hopefully next time my experience of humility won’t be forced upon me through circumstances and I won’t miss anymore expensive deadlines.

Until then I will be promptly writing a formal complaint to Scoot Airlines for horrible customer service.

Episode 3 Jeremy Sutton

Jeremy and I had such a good conversation that the people of Laos and Thailand deemed it worthy of fireworks.

Find out what the celebration is all about, learn what self awareness does to the brain, and discover what the hell yoga is really all about in this fantastic episode.

Download

Want to get in contact with Jeremy or read articles that came from his brain? Check out his blog and Facebook page.
A Wandering Wonderer
World-Centric Perspective

Fear of Success

As I drunkenly sat on the roof of a boat in the middle of the Mekong River with lanterns and stars above me; as I found myself at the feet of a monk in a crammed truck mistaken for a bus, hitching a ride to who-knows-where; and as I’ve found myself in continual awe of the odd and amazing places I’ve found myself while on my travels, I’ve come to a realization.

-There’s something frightening about pursuing your dreams-

A realization that the power has always been in your own hands and what you don’t accomplish isn’t anyone elses fault but your own.

Your failures are your own.

That expectation, that responsibility, it’s scary as shit.

There’s only so far you can go while blaming your failures in life on outside circumstances. Maybe it’s your government, your health, or cheaters constantly taking advantage of you, but the stories we admire throughout life are the ones where people overcome these obstacles.

We love these stories because they inspire. But inspiration is fleeting without action, and action is our own responsibility.

It’s good to remember that our ego lifts us, but our ego often lies to us.

Our egos can be so afraid of being put down and crumbled that it often creates excuses and rationalizations in order to not disappoint itself. This can seriously hold a person back in life.

It leaves me with a question, “Do we fear others, or do we really fear ourselves when it comes to living our dreams?”

That’s a personal question with a personal answer I cannot answer for anyone. But I feel that I can safely say that when a wounded ego holds the reins of a person, that person is more likely to shoot others down in order to feel better about not meeting their own failed expectations of themselves.

It’s why I’m writing this article today. A reminder for my frightened self as well as a call to action to take the reins of your dreams and don’t give up.

Reaching for your dreams not only let’s yourself try, it gives an unspoken, “ok” for others to try too.

I’ve realized something else while pushing myself to overcome personal obstacles and doubts.

Exhilaration and fear are sometimes similar sensations. You can choose your outlook to help drive you forward.

Everything I’ve said here is not new, but the clichés of life are clichés for a reason. We simply need to take the time to listen, hear, and actualized it without letting ourselves hold us back.

Embrace the frightening changes throughout life and experience for yourself.

There’s something exhilarating about pursuing your dreams-

Episode Two Mut Mee

Dinner style conversation with the inhabitants of Mut Mee guesthouse In Nong Khai, Thailand.

Why is everyone traveling? Why do Asian men make such good lady-boys? Why are there eggs on the table? Find out by listening to this fun episode.

For more information on Spain’s unemployment problem and Finland’s mandatory military service, check out the links below.
Spain Out of Control
Compulsory Military Service
Problems with Soundcloud? Listen to episode two below.

 

Why Travel?

I woke up from a vivid dream turned detailed daydream about me being back in Salt Lake City, Utah with my friends. I laid in my bed for probably half of an hour imagining scenes where I see my friends and family in familiar places again.

Eventually I walked out of my dark closet sized room that I’m renting for 6 dollars a night in small-town Myanmar. A room so small the door doesn’t even open halfway before hitting the corner of the bed; a bed that my toes dangle off of on account of me being too tall for it.

I poured myself some hot water on top of my 3-in-1 CoffeeMix, a coffee substitute that is insanely popular all throughout Myanmar, and I sat on the balcony overlooking the street.

I had just time-warped out of Salt Lake City via my closet room and suddenly reappeared in Hpa-an; a Burmese town where it is common place for monks dressed in deep red robes to ride motorbikes and women with root paste on their cheeks to carry woven trays of watermelon slices on their heads while smoking cigars.

The contrast was so startling that it compelled me to get out my keyboard and write about it here and now.

Where am I? What am I doing?

With thoughts of my friends and family back in the US so fresh in my mind, I can’t help but wonder what they would think of all of this, seeing me, or themselves in a town lost in time.

To read this blog and view my photos is one thing, but to be here is entirely another.

The panoramic view of tin rooftops, golden temples, trees, mountains and a distant lake; the sounds of the market chatter, motorbike horns and loudspeakers chanting in Burmese; the smells, familiar now but still unknown, a strange mix of sweet, foul, and fresh; and the bead of sweat currently dripping down my thigh from the humid heat. These can only be described in words, and words are unfortunately not the reality.

Pictures come closer to getting you there, but there will always be that disconnect.

I know that many people might take this as bragging, however, this doesn’t actually make me feel superior to anyone.

“Oh I am here, and they are not. Haha.”

No.

I spent half an hour daydreaming about my hometown for a reason. I miss it, I long for it, and I realize that family and having a place to belong is a very beautiful thing.

So what is this post about then? Importance of home? Inspiration for others to experience more of life? If that’s what you want to take away from this, please do.

My reason to write in this moment is the change I’ve noticed.

A deep yet subtle change within myself that travel has caused for me. I cannot place it, I cannot coherently put it into words, but it is there.

In this moment, the change is why I wish to explain the contrast of home and here.

A person cannot walk through such different worlds without it changing them a little. This is a funny little fact about travel.

Whatever it is that I am doing, I’m enjoying it. I am proud of the things I’ve seen, I am happy for that little change inside of me.

Whether that change means anything significant, or if any of this has any real purpose, I don’t know. But I do understand that change is the flow of life.

I am living, experiencing all sorts of contrasts and angles that life has to offer. I am currently happy because I cannot say that I am wasting my experience of consciousness.

I’ve found a great love for my views of trucks over piled with boxes, produce, and people; of men and women wearing colorful traditional clothing and hats, powerlines in knotted messes, rickshaws that look as if they’ve come from the 1920’s, babies riding on the front of motorbikes, clothes hang-drying on lines in the sun, old women cutting down bamboo stalks with machetes, and women monks in pink robes walking the streets with silver bowls collecting alms.

There is a simplicity here that I crave in life, and it brings me happiness knowing with my eyes that it exists in the world.

But I’ve also gained a greater respect and appreciation for a home. Friends to call up, family that knows you like no one else, real coffee, familiar roads, a familiar bed, comforts from childhood, a language you know and understand, and a place to belong and build a life around.

So, do I stay or do I go? Life is not about choosing one or the other, it’s not about which experience is best, it’s all life.

But I would like to advise everyone to try travel at least once. Let it broaden your perspective, teach you what you truly appreciate in life, and let yourself embrace that flowing blood of life for a moment and let it change you. Because it is all life, why not experience as much of it as possible?

Letting go is inevitable, experiencing something new is inevitable, change is inevitable, and travel helps you understand that. It teaches you to handle it, and if you embrace it, you can learn to really love that unstoppable movement.

Mut Mee

What is it about some places that bring people together? It’s almost as if there is an energy that attracts like-minded folks to a particular place.

I cant help but wonder, “Is it the place, is it the people, or is it a beautiful combination of both?”

image

Nong Khai, Thailand took me by surprise. The reason could be described in two words, Mut Mee, A lovely garden guesthouse right by the Mekong River.

I had expected a quite time alone for a week to work on my blog and podcast. I got everything that I had hoped for except for the bit about being alone.

Fantastic.

The people of the internet would have thought me a nutter if I had attempted to do an interview-style podcast with myself.

image

Sitting in the beautiful gardens across from the river, I found myself quickly swept away in interesting and stimulating conversations with the people around me.

I was also happy to find that my company was diverse and often wiser or smarter than myself in many subjects. I don’t mention this in order to stroke egos or to impress anyone, but as a reminder to myself to mix up my socializing often.

A great way to learn is by surrounding yourself with intelligent people and listening to them.

image

Mut Mee did something else that was fantastic for me.

It reminded me of the importance of gathering.

Like Meccas for pilgrimages, meeting points are important for human connection and passing of ideas and information.

I am reminded of the old use of the word, “salon.”

Good ol’ Wikipedia defines a salon as,

“A gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.”

image

So what was it about Mut Mee?

It was the people, it was the location, and it was the host and owner, Julian.

He not only created a beautiful environment on a riverbank to have people spend the night, he hosted his guests. He got involved in and struck up interesting conversation and made people feel welcome.

I apologize for turning this post into a guesthouse review, but something was done well here.

I encourage others to run businesses this way.

In a world where salons are now known for stimulating hair follicles instead of minds, and most social gatherings are to celebrate intoxication amongst music too loud to talk over, we could use more Mut Mees in the world.

Sharing political opinions, social concepts, groundbreaking theories and ideas are important for society. How are we to make any kind of positive change in the world without talking about it first?

Check out the website for Mut Mee at MutMee.com

World Bowlers

I’m not a fan of bowling, despite it being a favorite pastime of some of my favorite people in the world. The combination of finger food, shared balls, shit beer, and personal let-downs just doesn’t appeal to me.

But the other night I managed to make an exception. It wasn’t because bowling suddenly became fun for me, it was the insanely odd situation I had found myself in that made this Thursday night exceptional.

A surprisingly little known fact: the most bombed country in the world is Laos. A less startling, yet still bizarre, little known fact; Luang Prabang has a bowling alley that fills with foreigners from night to night. And this bowling alley happens to be where I found myself spending my Thursday night in Laos.

Upon arriving, the judgmental hipster in me instantly wanted to hate the place as I entered it.

“Where are all of the locals?”

For me, this was a disgusting display of western drunken influence on an old and beautiful culture. I instantly wanted to distance myself from it.

Stuck there until my current travel companions decided to leave, I soon found myself as a fly on the wall.

There I was, alone in a room full of foreigners from all over the world getting drunk and making fools of themselves. It was disgusting, it was intriguing, it was… Beautiful?… The anthropologist in me was suddenly intrigued.

You see, back at home when entering a busy place full of people who you don’t know, its a bit odd to sit down at a random table and easily join in in a conversation with strangers.
But we were in travelers land!
No one really knew anyone, except the few traveling with friends from home.

Belgium, Argentina, China, England, Australia, Switzerland, Egypt, France… Everyone was from another country! Everyone was getting along, united by the oddity of a bowling alley in a small town in Laos.

This was a beautifully insane thing.

Photo by Victoria from Pommie Travels

pommietravels.com

We’re All Alone in This Together

As you may have noticed, I’ve created a website.

Why did I do this?

Well, I’m not going to lie to you beautiful people, it was for a selfish reason.

No, not for money and not for glory. To be honest, I’m currently amazed that you are reading this at all right now. I hold few expectations or delusions of grandeur stemming from brain-dumbing this pseudo-philosophical travel website.

Existential Travel Zazz, (Meant to be spoken while waving spirit fingers) is a title worth rolling your eyes at.

“Here is yet another young traveling blogger, out to inspire the world!” C’est la vie.

If you’ve been following my posts at all, you’ll find that I’m a bit of a fromagerie. I’m here trying to get to the heart of it all, and sometimes that heart is made of cheese. And cheese is delicious so you all should have little to complain about.

The heart of the matter here is, I do hope to inspire the world. But this real hope, stems from a selfish desire to not feel so lonely.

(A question for later: is the desire to not feel lonely a selfish desire?)

While on the road, I’ll meet people. We’ll connect on a deep yet rushed superficial level and then they’re off in a week or two. It’s how it is.

It’s kind of sad being around so many people but having none of them really know you.

Often when I attempt to connect with friends back at home, they think I’m bragging about my travels and wish not to engage me. I don’t really blame them for this, but the reality is that I’m just a lonely human, and humans need to share.

I feel I have much to share and I can’t keep it in for myself, it’s almost painful. I want to share and inspire people around me.

So there, I said it. Now get your eye-roll over with and join in on this with me. Because I know you actually want connection too.

So what makes my website different from most inspirational travel blogs? Or a more accurate question, what do I hope makes my website different from other travel blogs? Existential involvement of course.

So what does existential actually mean?

Existential adjective

– Of or relating to existence.

Travel with awareness. Awareness of existence, life, living, and the present.

And it’s not just travel in the conventional sense.

I know not everyone is stupid enough, or able, to sell all of their shit, quit their job, and buy a one-way ticket to Asia. As much as I wish to shout, “you can travel the world too!” I realize that not everyone out there can.

But I’m not creating this website to reach out only to the nomad.

You see, I have a confession. I’ve always loved traveling, but I’ve never loved following travel blogs or travel magazines before. The reason being that I often found myself unable to travel and those beautiful traveling blogs only rubbed that depressing fact in my face.

(Apparently their inspiration worked, however, because here I am.)

Ultimately, My hope is to make a community that everyone can enjoy and take something useful or helpful away.

After all, we’re all travelers.

There’s that cheese again, but it’s true-blue and stinky too. It’s a simple reality of life which is obvious because realities of life usually are.

We are all on a personal journey in life; we are all travelers of life.

And that’s why I made this website. To connect that simple reality with the world, the traveling community, and my lonely self. To inspire creativity, forward thinking and movement in our lives.

The nomads of the world often see it clearly, it is full in the face of their existence; we are on a very literal journey through life on the road, life itself is a journey too.

That’s what makes travel so invigorating. Travelers are living in the moment, everything is new and unpredictable and it makes us think about ourselves and our place in existence.

And we have to live in that moment or we run the risk of getting hit by that bus going down the left side of the road instead of the right.

So! I hope you follow me and my adventures. But most of all I hope you join in, leave comments, give feedback, and submit your own existential travel zazz stories and opinions.

I don’t want to end up just being on a lonely pulpit. I want to talk, connect, engage in discussion, and reach out to anyone else who feels lonely on this road of life.

Sincerely,

Zazz

Vipassana

Last month I spent 10 days in silence learning an ancient meditation tecnique called Vipassana.

It was one of those types of experiences that are so influential you don’t even know where to begin.

It wasn’t impressive just because of the silence, which suprisingly turned into an odd sort of comfort, but it taught me golden lessons which I can carry with me always.

Vipassana in a nut shell:

Nine full days in silence, only speaking to the managers for technique advice and other necessities. Four a.m. wakeup, 9 p.m. bedtime, ten hours of meditation a day, no electronics, no writing, no music, no distraction. I snuck all photos on the last day before packing.

First 3 days you focus on nothing but your breath, how it is, no altering it. This sharpens the mind to notice the small movements and changes occurring within.

The first three days are the hardest, some people drop out and don’t finish the course.

From there you continue to observe the rest of your body while keeping in mind the reality of change. Everything within us and around us is in constant movement, from our cells to the particles of solid objects.

The cause of all misery is craving and distain.

Distain for anything which is impermanent, which everything is impermanent. Craving for the unknown, the unattainable, the past or the impossible. One or both of these things is at the core of all misery, so in the practice of observing the body you are meant to remind yourself of this constant change.

I cheated on one of the rules, I took notes. This was for you lovely people as well as myself. Because this experience was so life changing and in depth, I’ve decided to simply post my notes. Below are my exact notes as I wrote them in the moment.

Enjoy.

Day one:

  • Never fully submit. I want to be a strong person, not a submissive one. It’s impossible to have one or 100 teachers to have everything right. Submitting yourself to complete submission of an idea allows little to no room for your inner and innate wisdom to come out.
  • How is a person to come up with new innovative ideas if they only follow tradition?
  • This is hard.

Day two:

  • Be like Batman.
  • Saved the girls by chasing off a black snake with a broom. Maybe they wouldn’t go near it because they knew how dangerous it was.
  • Remind self, look up snakes of Cambodia.
  • Smuggled a cookie into my room.

Day three:

  • And another girl bites the dust.
  • Can’t focus on meditation, daydreaming too much. I wonder if Batman daydreams.
  • Found forgotten playing cards in my bag. Solitaire anyone?
  • Part of what makes being completely in the present and not in a fantasy daydream so difficult, is because sometimes we don’t like where we currently are.
  • Reality of our location and the reality of our minds can be scary to face.

Day four:

  • I missed breakfast today, slept through both bells. So sad when it’s the most exciting thing about the morning.
  • I had bed bugs last night. The manager didn’t know what they were and didn’t believe they excisted in Cambodia. Awkward insisting to switch mattresses.
  • Sad today, I’m feeling a deep feeling of loneliness. I’m completely alone in Asia, no one here to hold me.
  • I’ve just realized that I miss music more than internet or books.
  • Just got “scolded” for wearing capri pants in the meditation hall. I thought this wasn’t supposed to be dogmatic?

Day Five:

  • Learned today that meditation can make me horny. I might file that away for a rainy day.
  • It’s getting easier to sit in one spot for an hour straight; perfect for future movie watching.
  • Getting a little more excited for the next five days.
  • Broke another rule, killed a bed bug, zero regrets. That sonofabitch will drink my blood no more!
  • Got bored playing solitaire, started playing a two person game against my two feet.
  • Aaand right foot lays down a king for the win ladies and gentleman! That’s the game, left foot loses.
  • … Maybe I should actually use this alone time to meditate…
  • It sounds like there is a little dinosaur outside my room.

Day six:

  • I woke up this morning from a series of bad dreams. The freshest one leaving me too scared to fall back to sleep. Meditation helps with misery, what do you do about fear?
  • Just realized the majority of these Khmer (Cambodian) women are over 50 years old. They lived through genocide. I don’t know fear…
  • With no one else to talk to for 6 days I’ve realized something, I make pretty decent company.
  • Back to solitair.
  • I heard children singing today while letting the sound of rain enter my ears. People walked past me that weren’t there.

Day seven:

  • This morning I watched a little beatle roll a little rat poo around in circles seven times on the pavement. I counted 8 rounds. I wonder if this is how we look to the gods when we go to the gym.
  • My deodorant stick has reached its end. Fuckmylife.
  • Our emotions and physical bodies are connected. When we feel sad we keep asking the mind why we feel sad. Almost never do we ask our bodies where this emotion, this physical and often painful sensation, comes from within us.
  • In a world where a person is encouraged not to talk or even make eye contact with the people around them, it’s fantastic and surprising how a stolen, spontaneous, and knowing flash of a glance can brighten the whole day.
  • My god, I miss Del Taco… Why do I miss Del Taco?

Day eight:

  • A day for some serious meditation.
  • The path of Dhamma, the path of Dhamma, I keep hearing about this great and wonderful path from the Vipassana guy. Yeah, I agree it is great. Yeah I agree that everyone could greatly benefit from knowledge and an experience like this. However, is it THE path? Can there be only one path for everyone? I think not.
  • We are all biochemically different, why wouldn’t our paths be?
  • During lunch they serve this “drink” of which I’ve dubbed, “cup-o-fish eyes.” An uncreative name because it looks like a cup of little fish eyes, which I assume are actually seeds surrounded by a mucussy membrane. These tasteless goodies glop down smoothly like a cup of gelatinous fish eyes. Being tasteless, they are served with spoonfuls of sugar. Ah, what a joy! Goopy fish eyes- an excuse to drink sugar.
  • My addiction to sugar is deep and unsettling.
  • I met a bug today that went around collecting particles to put on its sticky back. I watched it for about a half hour.
  • I believe myself and I are becoming pretty good friends while we work out this ego thing.

Day nine:

  • When did I get so many freckles?
  • I’ve reached enlightenment.
  • Just kidding.
  • One of the men in the meditation hall keeps making this sexual sounding groan in the middle of meditation. In times past I’ve tried ignoring it, but today I looked over to see a group of young guys silently laughing. We made eye contact and the laughter grew to dangerously disruptive levels.
  • No words are needed for sex jokes.
  • I think a woman just thanked me for the snake incident by using a worm as pantomimed representation. She stopped me as I was making my exercise laps around the garden, not unlike the poo bug.
  • Just realized that maybe she was mocking my recent obsession with critters…
  • I disagree with Vipassana’s teachings of ridding oneself of passion. Passion is human, passion is beautiful, raw, and yes, sometimes filled with mistakes and sadness. But passion is liveliness and liveliness is life.
  • If passion is a flaw, it’s one I’d like to have.
  • “Don’t create more sankaras, retain perfect equanimity.” I realized that this advice was making me more upset. I can’t be perfect, I’m upset sometimes, let me be upset!… ah, that’s the teaching. It is what it is.
  • Perfection is a silly illusion.

Day ten:

  • This morning as the sun rose I looked out at the rice fields and was filled with such joy and beauty that it made me sad. I wish I could box it up and ship it to my friends and family.
  • The key to a proper Cambodian toilet flush is to create a swirling vortex of water, only then will the poo go down.
  • Today I get to talk!
  • I had forgotten that these woman around me don’t speak English. A barrier I felt between myself and them has dissolved, we are all in this together.

It was a difficult but extremely rewarding experience.

In the ten days I spent there I learned about an important connection between mind and body. I rid myself of a few pet peeves, including my distain for smacking. I learned to sit still, observe, and how to better focus my mind and attention. I learned techniques on how to better handle sadness and anger, I worked through many emotional problems and learned the skills to continue to do so.

And something I didn’t expect in this course, I found a best friend in myself.

If anyone is curious to learn more about Vipassana, or would like to take a class, check out the official website for more information.

Dhamma.org

All classes are by donation only. Yay!

Guess who else took a Vipassana course?

Macklemore. Do take a listen.