I am really not sure where to start. A year and a half has passed since I started this incredible journey around our beautiful planet. One might think a long time but actually in my life its not and the time has just flown by. I have seen and experienced so much, none of it money can buy and I have certainly changed and evolved in the process, I would like to think for the better. As you know it had been a dream of mine since i was 18 to travel the globe and i finally made it happen. Arriving in Guatemala on my first night it, i remember it clearly, nervous, anxious but excited, just me and my rucksack. A totally new experience for me to live this way, way out of my safety zone, moving from place to place with your house on your back, waking up each morning, so excited because each day is so brand new. You just haven't got a clue what is going to happen.
I learned quickly to one listen to my gut feeling/intuition to keep out of trouble (my intuition got stronger month by month) and two, go with the flow because when i didn't it was just too stressful (delays, rock slides, no space, poor food) and that way my journey was far more enjoyable because i did things i had not thought of doing, i just said Yes to almost everything. More often than not I just didn't know where I would end up and sleep that night. All new to me. Totally out of my comfort zone, ...but i was happy and free and I could be as spontaneous as i liked all the time! I was travelling from one adventure, one scared site, one beautiful natural location to the next. I often mixed it up staying with nature either on a Caribbean golden beach or a rocky mountain to a dense jungle or a sacred ancient site, or doing some crazy activity for the adrenaline rush, never getting bored, just enjoying every bit of it. i was in my element. Unbelievable.
I shall tell you some of my favourite places but honestly i will do it little justice - You have to go and experience it for yourself e.g. pick a place i mentioned, call me and then go on a 2-3week holiday. Anyway regards nature which is my passion i just loved sailing that turquoise sea with dolphins for 5 days from Panama to Colombia through the San Blas islands. It reminded me of my catamaran holidays with my friends back in the UK. Another big passion of mine is surfing so surfing in Costa Rica, Peru, New Zealand and Indonesia was me living my dream. i would stay a week at a time and just surf my ass off then hang out with the locals or other travellers for a few beers and food, talking about the waves. I was in heaven ;-). I also loved the diving and snorkeling, in fact i had never dived before and so decided to do my PADI on the Bay islands in Honduras. Amazing coral walls and loads of fish but the really big diving experience for me that unique and huge shipwreck in Bali, my god, i felt so fortunate. Resident Barracuda 3m, fan coral 1-2m, sea horses 5cm and more... My family always said i was a water baby and its true, i am. I love the sea and want to live by it in the future. Another great love of mine is the rain forests and i felt again very privileged to stay with Juan and his family in the Ecuadorian rain forest, in their village, being taught all about the different medicinal properties of the plants in the jungle, oh and partaking in an ayahuasca hallucinogenic ceremony. Also experiencing the pure primary rain forest on Volcano Madera in Nicaragua was magnificent too, arriving at the top and gazing down into the vast crater lake from where we ate our picnic.
Of course i cannot miss out any of the major cultural sites. Getting up at 4am and walking in the pitch dark through the rain forest in Guatemala listening to the loud and numerous howler monkeys on my way to the Mayan HQ, Tikal. WOW. I was lucky because they only open the gates to the tourists at 7am, and i was sitting high up on a sacred site at 5am watching the sunrise over the forest canopy, listening to the forest animals wake up for the new day. Extremely special. Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Indonesia were amazing sacred sites depicting important civilisations in our human history. I learnt a lot about our world and the different cultures. (loved Machu Picchu and Borobudur).
I should also share with you some of the not so nice things i saw because living in the comfort of your home in the west you may have little idea how at least a third of the world is still living today. It is simply astonishing and to be honest sickening to see that the modernity of the West doesn't seem to change their predicament. Of the 20 odd countries i visited, 17 were very poor and some were heart wrenching so. Poverty in whatever country I saw it, looked very similar. A family living in a wooden shack (3x3m) by a very small piece of land where they grew food possible with some animals. Sometimes i spent time with these poor people and realise in essence they are exactly the same as you and me. Warm hearts, just wanting food, work, peace and happiness. We are no different and honestly in 2009 it just shouldn't and needn't be like this.
I also saw a lot of pollution, waste and plastic being a major major problem, either being eaten by animals or just lining the roads, intersections, rivers and forests. This plastic comes from the western packaging and the global brands that are just everywhere, Coke, Pepsi, Pringles, Twix, Mars, Snickers....and are changing the local diets for the worse.
Deforestation is rife everywhere. My children will not see any primary rain forest if they travel around the world. The demand for timber, land, precious animals, driven by our consumerism is leaving nothing left and yet with proper management of natural resources, harvesting of trees, the labelling of sustainably produced products, this could be partially avoided. Coral reefs are another victim with ignorant travellers and tourist's alike standing and touching the reefs, thereby killing them (once a reef has been touched the invisible outer gel of sun protection starts to die and algae then grows on the coral finally killing it through consumption and all due to our ignorance. It was devastating to see how much coral has actually been destroyed, again our kids will see very little pure coral in its original state. I am sorry to be all doom and gloom, the messenger of bad news but living in a bubble will not bring about any positive change, it will in fact lead to further destruction so i rather you know and consciously decide to nothing about it and live with that or you make a change.
Having taken account of the above the following is now very clear to me. One, our consumer society is no longer 'fit for purpose'. We, the West (and the rest) cannot go on taking from the planet without sustainability kept firmly in mind with proper management of our scare resources. Two, we need auditing (much like finance auditors) and tracking of products (e.g. dove soap or pringles) to verify the sustainability or the raw materials e.g. oil palm and soya. If the product is not sustainably sourced (meaning slash & burn of the rain forest to make room to grow) a hefty green tax must be levied. The EU could lead the way on this. This will not only discourage cheap and dirty manufacturing that only considers economic factors but also guide consumers to the right clean choice whilst forcing companies to consider social and environmental factors as well. Today you ask for cheap, well cheap comes at a price. A price to the environment and the local people. Be aware.
So, after about nine months of travelling i had had enough of moving every 5 days. I wanted to do something else. That's when i decided to do voluntary work in the rain forests of Borneo. Working with and living with the locals was one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my journey because i learnt so much about the Indonesians, the issues related to their forests regards all segments of society wanting a piece of the forest.
However after my six months in Latin America and six months in South East Asia i was excited about India and the change to come. The first 12 months were mainly all about external experiences as i have written above and that was my plan. To live it up, experience all the world had to offer me and all that i could find, however it was always my plan to work on my internal self once i had got to India and Nepal and that's exactly what i did. Although i was in India & Nepal for six months i saw very little of these countries it except when i went on that amazing motorbike ride in Ladak and the trekking in the Himalayas. All the rest of the time i was in retreats.
Like most of us i had never taken time out from the wheel, from the noise to get a closer look at who i am, what are my passions and what do i want from this precious life i have. To consciously look at where i now am at this very point in my life and in which direction i wish to go from here. In addition to my soul searching and personal growth there was also an element of healing to be done, as there often is with someone like me who has never invested any time in listening to my true self, my being. Coupled with teachings i took, the reading i did and the sometimes very personal conversations i had with new close friends i made and teachers i met, the change in me over the past 18 months was predominantly internal, not external.
I learnt there are a few key questions in life that i must ask myself and there are some simple ingredients to follow for truly lasting happiness and be aware that ignorance is the root cause of all suffering. Firstly one must take time to ask and answer questions.
- Who am I? (your archetypes) What is my passion, my gift? What excites me most in life?
- What is my life's purpose? What is my vocation, my calling? (nurse, carpenter, father)
- What am i living for? What are my goals for myself and for others?
- Am i doing the right thing with my life right now (e.g. job/sector, relationships)?
- How can i live my life so that i will have no regret? So that i have conviction i used my life meaningfully.
To find answers to these questions one must go within, you must first allow your mind to become silent possible through meditation (see previous blog entry Mc Loed Ganj where i explain how to meditate. Meditate for 10-15mins) then ask your question. Be patient with yourself. You will find that the answer will appear from the silence within. Its that little voice, that gut feeling. If you are having trouble allowing the silence of the mind to surface a different technique is to ask the same question repeatedly, 15-20 times and each time write done what comes to mind but you cannot repeat any of the answers to that same question.
Regarding true happiness i understand and have found the following key pointers to be crucial. Firstly you need sincerely go through the above work, ask these questions of yourself, listening to your heart, your being and your intuition to know your passion, to understand your calling. You may already know this. Normally this calling involves helping other people, animals and/or the planet. Why, because try happiness comes from giving, from helping others. In turn you will receive an abundance of love, money, happiness. So firstly listen to your heart. Secondly one should use the power of intentional thought to help co-create your future and bring into life what you want to happen. That means bring the attention of your mind on the intentions you have. Intentional thought, also know as prayer (energy) responds to your thought in signs. Signs such as conversations, meetings, inspirational thoughts and coincidences. By listening to your heart and comprehending the signs from the universe you not only co-create your future but also stay on your right path which ultimately will bring you joy and happiness. Another key point that i must share with you is this, happiness comes i have learnt and found from within, not from outside. How we react to situations, people, events, is up to you and me. I can react emotionally and agitated and cause myself and others pain or I can centre, reflect, then respond. Either way it is you, your mind, you choose how to reply. In addition external pleasures and material things are short lived enjoyments that should not be relied upon for long lasting happiness. Enjoy chocolate, job, relationships, cars, holidays but knowing that everything is impermanent and that attachment to these things will ultimately cause suffering. I found these teachings in India and Nepal to be the most inspirational event in my whole journey. Furthermore, we all need to receive love, give love and love our self. This is also crucial to long lasting happiness.
So now i have been back in the UK over a month now and i am slowly adapting to life here although sometimes my travels seem far away. I have made the decision to follow my heart and i will change sectors, leaving my IT/Telecoms career and focusing on the environment. I am not sure which area specifically, whether it will be renewable energies, recycling, waste or water management but i have started my research and have faith that with hard work from my side creating opportunities and looking out for signs i will find my right way.
I do believe individuals can make a difference and can make a real contribution to life in a positive meaningful way. Be truly grateful for what you have, be generous with what yourself (time, words, thoughts & actions) and what you have and realise we all want happiness, no one wants suffering. Some steps might need to be taken in the form of corrective action, setting some short and long term goals. Its ok to start again. I am and I'm 37! The point is i am no super human, i am an ordinary person, i did learn how to listen to my heart and i have built the courage to follow my heart (my passion). These are the two ingredients to living a lasting happy and fulfilling life. It is that simple. You can do this too! So if you have any dreams, listen to your heart and follow them. Start NOW!
Emmerson said, "What lies ahead of us and behind us pales in comparison to what lies within us''. Think about this.
I hope you found my blog interesting, perhaps even inspiring. Do contact me if you have a question and feel free to write up your comments. I wish you all the best in making the most of this precious life we all are privileged to have.
Love, Light & Laughter,
Love, Light & Laughter,
Luke. February 2010.