Live your life travelling. It’s my advice to anyone who feels like life could use an extra dimension aside from the standard things we are supposed to experience according to society – birth, school, higher education, job, house, marriage, babies, pets, work more, taxes, death. Not necessarily in that order.
Travelling is the only (really, the only? Not sure about that, but right now it’s the only thing I can think of) thing that will cost you money but leaves you richer in the end. Let me get this straight – by travelling I don’t mean ‘going to an all-inclusive beach resort in some country’, where you don’t leave the premises, and bake in the sun all day chatting about the food and weather with your fellow countrypeople. To me, travelling can mean going anywhere in the world (even your own country!), by any means of transportation without wanting to control every step of the way. Travelling, to me, means letting go of the reigns, and being open to random adventures, random conversations with random people in random streets. It means being open to making honest and genuine connections with people, not caring about where you are from or how you were raised. If you let go of all pretences and just be you, that should be enough to attract the people you want to meet in life, even if you didn’t know you wanted to meet them in the first place.
A special person recently told me that life hits you hard sometimes. He was talking about how traumatizing experiences can give you mental scars that, like physical ones, will fade by time but never become completely invisible. At that moment, I thought “Come on, it’s not all that bad. Of course, you can end up in messy situations that might seem scary at that very moment. But if you look back on them and reflect, you’ll be able to relativate and laugh about it in the end.” After a downside there’s always a way up, I believed. I probably didn’t fully comprehend the meaning of his words, because, to be honest, I couldn’t imagine anything that would make me feel so bad that I could never see the positive sides of life again. I could never be pessimistic about life. About love. I will never be pessimistic, it’s just not in my nature.
The last few days though, I have come to see this person’s words in a different light. When I was living in Rio de Janeiro, I met a lot of people that I will remember for the rest of my life, and that will always have a special place in my heart. The circumstances in which I met these people – at CouchSurf meetings at Posto 5, Copacabana, a life that I probably would not have been able to live if it weren’t for my crazy plan to become an au pair at the other side of the world – usually meant drinks, hot summer nights, music and relaxed people. It were the choice I made, the chances I took and the chances I created up until then that put me in a situation where I was open to meeting all these wonderful people. The down side of this was though, that when my six months visa came to an end, I had to leave this life and all the wonderful folks in it behind. On my way back to the Netherlands, I already felt homesick. With most of these people, you kind of know that after leaving you probably will never meet again, partly because they -also- have their roots in all corners of the world. And although I cherished the fact that I had met them in the first place, it made me sad too. It’s natural for wanting a good feeling to last.
One person I really dreaded leaving behind, was my best friend Rodrigo. We met just a day after he had come back from Amsterdam, his last stop on a six month trip around the world. We connected immediately, laughing at my way of saying the worst Brazilian profanity he could imagine, about how I can burp any name at request, at such a high volume that it can wake up a village. We laughed and drank and talked and just enjoyed life as it was. I hated not knowing if and when we would meet again.
Fate had something for us in store. During his half-year trip, Rodrigo had made a lot of little clips of himself walking, took a lot of photo’s, wrote stories about his adventures. In the hostel he now runs with Laura, his girlfriend, he met someone that inspired him to enter a contest. The result was a simple, but powerful one-minute clip (see below) that won him first place. The prize? A gift card for plane tickets and some money along the way. First stop on the way to Asia: Amsterdam! Needless to say, the days I spent in Amsterdam with Rodrigo and Laura were wonderful. We laughed like it was only a week ago that we last saw each other. Even with Laura, whom I never met back in Rio, it felt like we had known each other for years. It’s funny how that works. Crazy. Mysterious. Random. Wonderful.
But then life hits you in the face. Now I understood. Feeling this happy is addictive. When it comes to an end, when I have to return home after a few days of being high on love for life, I needed to detox. I needed to get used to structure again, to work. Home is where the heart is, but if your heart is with so many people in so many different places it becomes harder and harder to settle back again. I have to be honest, I haven’t really found a way how to deal with this yet. Each time I experience something good like this, I want more. I don’t want the trip to end, I want to keep travelling, to keep making great memories, live life loving and feeling loved.
The only advice that I can therefor give, is “vivi a vida viajando”.