Did you ever feel like there’s more to life than what you are experiencing now? Have you ever looked at the grey mass wandering in the streets, looking so busy and self-centered, trying to show that their life, their job is more important than the others’ and thought that you would want your life to be different? Or do you feel like everything in your life is pretty good – the job, your career, friends, social life – but you still feel a hole in your soul that never fills up and it’s tearing you to know what it craves?
I cannot say that I know all the answers. But I can tell you one thing – it won’t stop craving for something and if you don’t try and find what you really want in life it will haunt you for the rest of the days. There’s no “getting over it”.
I am not suggesting that that every person who feels that way needs to go travelling the world, as each of us is different and everyone needs their own experience, their own goal. For some it’s exploring the casual lives of different cultures by working in as many different areas they can, for others, it’s to try a lot of new things, food-wise, career-wise. Others are happy to be able to experience the thrill of the waves hitting different shores, the hard rock of climbing different mountains, the sound of music of different instruments, or even the sound of “hello” in a different language.
For me, it was a bit of everything, but mostly – nature, which I associate with freedom. I can say that I am a person that would sit on the edge of a mountain and just look at the view with amazement for hours. I never liked cities… They seemed harsh, intense, fast moving and loud. Cities cause me stress so I always felt to be drawn to nature, especially wide areas where there would be no souls around me, just wide fields of grass, mountains, the vast sea.
When living in Vilnius (not even that big of a city), where all my life I have studied and worked, I always felt like I have a box around me that contains my personal space. The more stressful it was and the more schedules I needed to take into account the smaller the box seemed to be for me. I started feeling that I can’t breathe, that I am just gasping for a dash of air and it’s getting harder and harder. I felt like I need space. Then I noticed that wide areas of solitary gave me the feeling of expansion. I felt full, capable of breathing… and I could even say I felt really happy at those rare moments.
And so it began – the unconscious need for space and happiness started to grow in my soul. But it did not strike me straight. It took time, and lots of it, to understand what makes me happy. And life is actually that simple – it’s doing what makes you happy. Some will say that you have to make others happy and that’s the important goal, as doing only what makes you happy is self-centered and ignorant. Yes – making others happy is the right way to live. But let’s not deny that by doing this, most people are making themselves happy as well, they’re filling their inner unconscious needs when doing these actions. Some scientists say that even the love of a mother is actually egoistic, as in an unconscious way she is doing that because she feels the need to have someone who depends on her, someone who will return the love in the future. And there is nothing bad about it. I would say, there is a positive side to egoism. So – do what makes you happy, especially if you can help others by doing it. And I think that my goal has become egoistic, as I started looking for my own happiness, I tried to find what brings a childish smile back on my face, a spark in my chest.
When I was still going to school everything was kind of sorted in my head. I was programmed to be like the others. I bullied not to get bullied, I laughed at others before they laughed at me, I was trying to fit in and I did. I was never one of the “bad guys” but I did not let anyone get on my back.
I knew that after school I NEED to go to university, I NEED to find a white collar (office) job, I NEED to have a great career, I NEED to buy a flat/house and I NEED to have a wife and have kids to tell them that they NEED to do that as well. Because I was told to, always. Starting from kindergarten and continuing in school, and then in the university; and there were always my parents, grandparents and relatives reminding me of the “right” things to do with my life. I was being programmed from the moment I opened my eyes. Programmed to be the same, not to stand out, to be the mass.
Now I will say this – there is nothing wrong with being the mass. Countries would not exist without the mass – the community. Taxes would not be collected, economies would not work, laws wouldn’t be followed, jobs wouldn’t be created, there wouldn’t be any social security, etc… We need people who work hard for their careers, we need people who want to change the material world for better. I have always encouraged my friends to seek big careers, so their friends, parents and relatives could be proud of them. I just never saw myself going on that path. I tried… I tried a lot of times to be “normal”. But I failed… And I am happy that I failed. The only thing that annoys me is that sometimes there’s lack of tolerance from the mass when it comes to accepting the individuals who seek for their life adventure.
Even when I talk about my next big journey with my friends, the moods change when the discussion touches the “budget of it”. When I tell them that I want to earn a bigger amount for the travelling, they start looking at me as I am some kind of an idiot. As I don’t understand that I could buy a flat or a nice car for that. The program of the mass does not recognize another code, it sees it as an infection, as a bug.
The saddest part is that people actually get attached to the material things; they buy cars and houses and pay their loans for the rest of their lives. And then they feel that they wanted something more, but they can’t change anything as they owe the money to the banks. They owe their life to someone else. They are not free. But wait, there’s more: people who do not owe anything to anyone have always told me: “You are so lucky that you are able to do that, to throw everything away and just go to see the world.” And I always ask them – “but why can’t you do the same? There’s nothing holding you back.” And their excuse was always the same: “we can’t, because we need to buy a house/flat/car… Because we need to have kids… Because we need to go to study… BECAUSE I CAN’T JUST DROP EVERYTHING AND LEAVE!…” But here’s the thing – YOU CAN. There’s no one else who’s holding you back, but you. If you will search for obstacles, you will always find them, if there won’t be any – you will create them.
People are scared to go against the system, against the programming. They keep thinking of “what if…”. It’s scary to understand that after all these years of everyone trying to program you “how you should live”, the biggest barrier between you and your happiness is actually yourself. But let me tell you this – you don’t know yourself. You have been living in your own environment, following the rules and teachings, that THEY have taught you but you don’t know how you will act in any other real place.
And this is WHY I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD TRAVEL. You change the location, you meet other people with their opinions, their POVs, their habits. I was never so open-minded before I went backpacking for the first time, I was very conservative and ignorant. So you actually get to hear the real opinions and information about countries and events that you only get to hear from the media (and the media is always owned by big corporations and not always tells you the real truth, but rather what they want you to hear).
Travelling allows you to try other things, food, get to know other cultures, traditions. It also allows you to try new jobs, career paths. Backpacking is like a reset button – every time you go out there you leave everything behind and can start over. You can be whatever you want to be again! It lets you experience the world, see it, touch it. You can finally see all the things you were watching on Animal Planet and National Geographic with your own eyes.
Travelling gives you the chance to see how different people in different parts of the world enjoy life. It gives you an opportunity to learn from those who have nothing, yet have the widest smile on their face because they know that life is not about things. You will always have a chance to get more things, but time is the only thing that you will run out of.
Finally, backpacking gives you the chance to get to know yourself. It’s amazing how I’ve changed since my first backpacking trip. How my views on life changed, how much more tolerant I have become, how my interests have changed. And not only it changes your spiritual world. My goals became much bigger and the amazing part is – they are so much clearer now.
To me, the biggest gift of backpacking is that for the first time in my life I feel that I know what I want to do with it. And that is why I think people should travel – to get to know themselves. (Plus the weather and the food is amazing!)