It’s a bit tough to put into words, but there’s a certain feel of Southeast Asia. Getting off the plane in Bangkok, it’s pretty obvious you’re in Thailand – all the signs are in Thai squiggles (sorry), the weather is unbearably hot, and the streets are filled with hawkers selling street food, clothing, and assorted knick knacks.
It’s counter-intuitive, the idea of learning to relax, but the stereotype seems to hold true, on how Americans are so work-centric, that they can’t go on vacation without feeling guilty. In contrast, it seems like Australians basically invented the holiday.
Even after being in Australia for a month, I’ve had a hard time really relaxing. On the back of my mind, I keep thinking that I should get back to the US, back to work. I keep thinking that I should be productive, working on my website, studying internet marketing, making some money.
And so, even when I’m in a position where I should be relaxed, I’m constantly active. On beaches, I can’t just sit and relax, but I’ve got to take pictures (I blame my Asian DNA). hike along the beach. do something. Somehow, it’s really hard to just ‘zen out’ and be at peace in the world.
Even though I’ve forced myself to disconnect by not bringing a GSM-compatible smartphone, I’m constantly making notes of interesting things I notice, to write about, reflect on, and possibly profit off of.
But as Jesse commented when I mentioned this to him, I’ve only been here for barely a month, and it really takes a while to transition out of a mindset I’ve spent my entire life in.
I wonder, it’s easy to make fun of the stereotypical American businessman, relaxing on the beach but still tethered to his blackberry, but as a whole, are we all so used to being concerned with work, that we need to take lessons on learning to relax?
If so, is that depressing?
“Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free” – Shawshank Redemption
In my travels so far, I’ve had two case where I’ve really felt the fear of the unknown.
First, in New York City, when I got rid of all my material possessions in preparation for my trip. Walking out of my apartment, knowing that there was no turning back, I felt this emptiness, like a mini panic attack.
This was it. It hadn’t sunk in when I booked my plane ticket, it hadn’t sunk in when I gave my roommate one months notice. But now, when all I had in the world was one backpack worth of gear, it finally hit me, this fear of the unknown.
The second time was in Brisbane, when I set out for Sydney. I had relatives in Brisbane, a place to stay, and it was comfortable. safe. peaceful. But now, I was once again venturing into the unknown, with a Canadian couple I had barely met. And once again, the fear of the unknown set in – though this time, thankfully, it was much milder.
Maybe because I’m starting to get used to it. But this is why I left on this journey, to overcome my fears.
As (I think) quoted in The Power of Now, “when you live in the past, you feel disappointment. When you live in the future, you feel anxiety. When you live in the present, you feel at peace.”