What you love or who you love

I was just starting to date someone after I was returning from a big trip, and had the travel bug still alive in me. I felt so passionate after my trip that traveling again was like a strong force, a great feeling I wanted to relive again.

I was conflicted between settling in to this city, my life here with someone and my family close by, and that enthusiasm and curiosity I had for going and experiencing the world again. Somewhere new was really nothing new to me, but I was really imagining the idea of being a traveler again.

I felt really conflicted. It took time to decide which path to choose, what choice to make, and waiting made a lot of FOMO, extending and keeping the question inside me unanswered, what choice am I going to make.

On the outside I was settling more roots, but in my heart, I was half in and half out. I didn’t know how to own that. I felt brave imagining another year trip over settling in, yet I was not acknowledging how much I was delaying the “stability” stage of my life, the responsibility part.

It felt like all or nothing in subtle ways. Travel and see so much, or settle in and see so little. Those couple week trips were foreign to me at the time, and I over valued longer duration experiences.

There was a bit of denying that feeling inside, the restlessness. Every now and then I’d need a few days to reconsider it all. Am I procrastinating the trip, my dreams? Or procrastinating independence. Who knows, but it felt hard to settle when I felt unsettled.

I’d try to make space a lot for walks and alone time. It felt so symptomatic of someone not knowing what they want. Caught inside, what to do, searching for the perfect answer.

My debates on traveling, and those half ins half outs really put stress on my relationship at the time. The what if’s, and is the grass greener on the other side, can be a spiral of questions, of reasons to second guess things.

I wasn’t my best self in that relationship. Things faded, I wasn’t giving enough priority or value to the life right in front of me. It still took me a year after to finally go. Clearly it wasn’t only the question of travel or partnership. I had a bit of denial, that going was truly the right thing to do.

Eventually, I committed and booked a ticket to Europe. It was a 5 weeks return trip, but I was very open that there’s a chance I may not return until much later. The 5 weeks was a buffer, maybe that’s all I needed. It allowed that option if I wished to take it. Yet inside it felt superficial. I really was leaning more to a longer trip regardless.

After the wobble of those years, it felt like choices were being made. I went to travel again. Another travel adventure (before this I did a year in Australia), here I come. I called this trip the deal breaker. The one that stopped me from really giving in and committing to someone, settling, doing anything longer term. That thought always in the back of my mind. Yet I was confronted in many ways. I was going to Europe, but subtly running from things. Should history, buildings, new places, be so important in my life? Worthy for the half ins and half outs I felt before?

It was enchanting, authentic to go, but I was surprised in ways. How sustainable are these trips if it stops me from settling in back home, from keeping relationships strong, from other areas of growth I also wish to experience like career or homelife. Why were these travel experiences so valuable? I had a bit of inner-conflict on this trip since these questions and feelings felt really important.

I had a bit of shame. To feel so motivated to go, yet when Im there missing my old life as well. The same way I wasn’t appreciating the life I was having at home, I even became numb to the life I was doing while traveling. All the places and history, at times I’d lose touch with how lucky and special it all was. Devaluing what you have, over imagining what you don’t. This blindsided me abit, and just showed how much I did have at home.

I learned a lot from that journey and those times years ago. How I was so hesitant to fully, really, say yes, to be 100% in. I walked the fringes in ways, keeping my mind always on what other opportunities were out there.

I felt abit illusioned by my passions. They didn’t live up to the high expectations I set for them. I had glorious moments on my trip, without a doubt. I just also felt abit less certain, confident, and focused then I’d like. Unclear of what the big picture was, why I was here.

The common story of those times was I going to write about those cities I went to. I’d never really acknowledge that was my goal. I’d get caught in the travel highs, the new places every few days, and forget my mission a lot. It’s now years later that I’m trying to take these writings and actually make something of them, simply by sharing them. And own how I didn’t feel capable, worthy enough for that mission. That I thought my writing wasn’t good enough or I was always waiting for the perfect inspiration that never came, so I just kept traveling, wandering.

In some ways I went on this trip for answers. Why did I feel so passionate to go, why was I let down at times by my high expectations. Why was what I had back at home not good enough. It was a tough stage of my life, just the lessons I needed to learn at the time about enjoying the life right infront of me.

Always chasing the new thing, the different thing. I bet a lot on those ideas. A lot of time, resources, energy. I look back on all my travels now. It feels like one long experience. That 18 year old Adam in university took this 10 year experience of working, writing, traveling, openness to new things and just woke up in the life I’m in today. With a lot of energy and life, and a sort of what just happened feeling.

I question the value of that. I try to remember the value was in the experience, was in the doing of the thing and not anything else. Those beaches in Australia, random trips in Thailand, mint tea in Morocco, hummus in Israel, coffees in Europe and Chai’s in India, all of those were for that past Adam, those desires in those moments. I can’t pull any of those moments to this day. I can’t sell them for happiness now, mortgage them. I can accept that; we don’t settle on our past highs, and aren’t held back by our old choices.

Was travel just beautifully procrastinating, epically delaying? The “who am I” feels less known then ever. Don’t people travel to discover, I feel like all I did was travel to question, to second guess, reconsider who I am. Time to walk forward, now blinder the more we’ve seen. Forgotten who we are the more memories we have made.

I lived by ‘do what you love and the rest will follow’. And I’m waiting, looking behind me, and waiting for the rest to follow. I look forward, and the path ends. It goes up until now. Have I only gone this far for free, the rest of the way I have to make. The path till now was where autopilot took me. The rest of the way I carve out rather then follow a pre made path.

Life used to be just A to B. Lately I feel I have a lot of choice, I’m at A and the entire alphabet of choices before me. We all slip into identity questioning at times. Who am I. What’s this all going to become. Deeper questions.

This story began as the challenges between travel and settling. Into a partnership, a city, a career. The indecision of not knowing which one is most important, and how to make healthy compromises, and win-win situations.

Travel was fun, and maybe I tended to over-do it abit. It maybe burdened connections I had rather than genuinely enriching them. There is some clarity spawning from all this.

If the question is between what you love or who you love, can I turn this around on me? Less about others, and more just solid trusting what I am, who I am.

I’ve learned that going backwards along a path doesn’t bring you back to an old feeling. Going back to an old place won’t necessarily allow you to relive the same memory. It’s an illusion of sorts, because that place brings you right back to now.

The birds fly north, the bison migrate the plains, all without maps, or guarantees of arrival, just instincts. A feeling of moving forward, empowerment, independence. Maybe I’m not different. Maybe the end goal is less of a place, and more of a feeling of confidence, focus, authenticity, and direction. Those values hopefully lead you to a worthy end goal, atleast an honest one. Don’t stay locked in those ideas of perfect destinations, especially at the cost of those emotions of strength and stability. Lessons for all of us, but really I see how it was the lesson for me.

 

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Travel Burnout

Travel Burn Out

I didn’t really know why at the time, but I did recognize I was pretty burnout from overdoing the movement and routines of travel. It was a struggle at moments to keep up with the pace of a new city, another bus ride, another day the bag on my back. It’s so cheap to go from city to city these days; it can be so easy to do it all the time.

Arriving at new places, many things to do there, sleeping at hostels maybe far from where you landed, having friends in random neighbourhoods, it was a very ‘always burning energy’ time of my life. And when I arrived in a city, I was never there to rest or take it easy. Sometimes I would consider easy days, but when I settle in, view the sights on the tour pamphlets, talk to people about places, I’d get reignited to go again. That’s also a challenge to only being in a city for a couple days. To do the things you wish to do, you have to be moving and a rest day takes away from half your trip in that city.

To do: the hike, church, café, old bar, cute park walk, small town, big city walking tour, etc.

My entire life at the time revolved around seeing things outside of me and talking with people. It was a pretty addictive and enjoyable experience. I suppose I was on longer trips then others. I was rarely around people who could relate to the fatigue and duration of the trip. Surrounded by people who are only away from home for a few weeks, in a city for only a few days, no wonder they are bursting with energy.

I enjoyed meeting people while traveling, and seeing the cities with them for the feeling of community, experiences, and memories made. I think as well hostels weren’t the most conducive place to really relax and take it easy. Of course I could have not gone out and just enjoyed myself in the hostel, cook a dinner, watch a movie and let it be. It just felt so uninspiring, aimless. I traveled half way around the world for that? Fair point. But I didn’t travel half way around the world to feel drained and trying to keep up with an infinite amount of options and places. The concept of a good balance at that time was clearly something I was not excelling incredibly at. I felt estranged to doing nothing and waiting during the time. The momentum and resilience I had on day one was different then what it felt like after countless days, but I still tapped into it almost every day on the trip

I felt guilty being there and not doing the sights, and it was exciting, so I kept going. I could have said “Ok, you’ve seen a lot, it’s not a failure to rest and give it a day, let it go a bit, take a chill’.

Less is more may of helped, but really less is less and more is more in some cases. And I was betting this was one of them.

So there I am, traveling too much and resting too little, that’s this blog post in a nutshell

Traveling wasn’t building community, it was witnessing others communities. The health they buy in the markets they visited, their nest of a home, security of a job, partners they build lives with. Travel was a sacrifice of many of these things to see it in others.

Being far from friends and family, it was easy to be completely immersed wherever I went.  At times we think I’m not enjoying this and it makes no sense why. Too much pride fueled me in those days. The trip of a lifetime, those headlines and labels id create would make changing course from it that much harder.  It all felt like too worthy of a mission to slow down on. The very idea of taking a break felt too far at the time, I was too inspired and elated in all the new places I went.

Was I running away? Maybe, I was pretty stoked about going but maybe that’s something to consider. It was a wonderful time that I didn’t want to end. But I craved going immensely. The part that sticks out to me was there was this sort of have to go mentality. I wouldn’t allow myself not to go. I would think about it constantly. Maybe abit obsessive about how cool the trip would be, the potential of it, how much I would see.

Something, somewhere, gets on your mind, and one becomes impassioned about it. Even if it was off your mind forever up until then.

Perhaps those are the blind spots in the psyche of these times. The attitude of go, go, go, and never having a slowdown button. Maybe it’s just young people energy, our ability to see more than ever, further than ever, quicker than ever. The burnout that is a side effect of any rushing, overdoing, mentality. Of having too much and never enough simultaneously. The universes fatigue from speeding up, expanding, making new connections. The battle between what’s new and what it’s replacing.

And there was the inner realization. The excitement about going versus the reality of being there and feeling exhausted, savings drained, missing friends, missing home. Clearly the long term travel was something I wanted to do, more then come home, more than a day of rest, at the time. I had moments I wanted to come back, but turns out not enough. There was still a lot to see and experience.

Just buy the flight and happiness will follow, but by the year mark I was done. Even the 3 month mark, 6 month mark – it’s a lot of work living from a bag, in a new city with a new language, with traveler rights rather than citizen rights. I’d say as long as I’m in the place, everything will sort itself out. Clearly by this post not everything sorted itself out, but I’m here learning, and reflecting that some challenging days doesn’t take away from the good exciting ones.

Burned out in Paris? Watch a French movie. Read a good book about the city. Or cook a French meal. Pull some Tarot cards. Who knows. Something other than sightsee, then crowds, standing in lines and waiting at bus stops. Maybe that’s the new way.

I feel lighthearted now as my life is a lot easier then it was traveling like that. Traveling is simple, for sure. There’s an ease nowadays. I’m making money, got my home, things are cute and easy in that way. There’s a slight fear that it’s cyclical and before I know it a new burnout will happen again in its own way. Things are good now, and maybe extremism slips into all our lives at certain times. Could I do another big trip and lose my balance. Sure. I’ll write another post about it when I do. Maybe this post will be the little reminder if I feel I am. To take it easy…

It can feel hard to default to rest in times full of amazing things. But isn’t an amazing thing a wholesome thing. Isnt the amazing part that its nurturing, brilliant, fun, exciting, wild intertwined? Is that an illusion, like a city that has everything? Beach, mountains, tropics, never rains. There is no perfect city, but there are cities perfect for certain peoples tastes. No city can make everyone happy, but we all can find pieces we like and admire from each, and settle in the one that perhaps fulfills most of those desires for us.

The paradox of feeling drained in the place you came to come alive. So I felt it, good lesson. Who knows? Maybe there is a tinge of that, a lack of patience to really feel it. I’m not expressing how that Adam truly felt, I’m expressing how this Adam feels about it. Whole different experience. Right now it feels light, because I feel light. But when I felt emotional about it, it was a much more challenging experience. I’m not sure if I’m giving it credit it deserves. Maybe I need to touch on it. Maybe I don’t. Who knows. But talking about it is the beginning.

Has anyone else ever felt this? Travel burnout? There’s a decent amount written about it on the internet. It’s a new age subject I imagine, with all these digital nomads and long term travel ambitions of the world. Hit me up if you ever are going through it, love to help and talk about it.

Cheers and love!

Adam

 

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Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii

Historically, Haida Gwaii was called Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai by the natives which translates into “Islands at the Boundary of the World”.

 

 

 

When my flight arrived in Haida Gwaii, it was a bit of a distance to the town I was going to, so I hitched a ride. The driver who drove me used to work on Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park for many years. For those who don’t know it’s a small island close to downtown Vancouver where those with smallpox were quarantined over a hundred years ago. He was telling me eerie stories and histories even before the smallpox time about the place during our drive.

Our chat transitioned from that grim topic. He said an interesting statement as our ride commenced. “You didn’t choose Haida Gwaii, Haida Gwaii chose you. This is a very spiritual place and you didn’t arrive by accident.”

Once I arrived at the town of Queen Charlotte I did alittle hike on a nearby island to pass the time. I was waiting for someone to get off work because we were going to have a dinner afterwords. The first thing I noticed when I arrived here in Haida Gwaii was the eagles. They were everywhere.

I had dinner that night with a local resident who was a librarian. She shared stories about the challenges and generation gap people can get as they get to their older years, especially if they are retired. Her name is Michelle and she is a couchsurfing host who gets to meet a lot of young travelers from all over and share stories and memories.

 

I spent 4 days in this town, went to the local coffee shop, did day hikes, visited the local museum, and helped a friend make cinnamon buns! I did a day trip to the south of Haida Gwaii were a group of us went to an island called Skedans (Haida Gwaii is an archipelago, a collection of hundreds of small islands). This historic Haida village had over 40 totem poles during its day. The Haida primarily had villages close to the water as they were typically traveling by canoes. The relied heavily on the ocean for their food source, and were trading with local tribes regularly. Below is a historic photo of the village.

It now is nearly deserted of totem poles. Museums and collectors raided them when they had the chance, aswell some have naturally decayed. There’s a big wave of repatriation happening on Haida Gwaii today. Artifacts, old burial boxes, totem poles, clothing, are among some of the many things the Haida people are working to get what was created on their land returned to their land. The creations were made for ceremony and family, rather than museums and private collectors.

You can see in this photo above that there are no trees growing in the settlement. The Haida would remove all of them to make the totem poles very visible. When you go today you see trees now cover the land.

 

This is that location up close today.

 

This is the view facing the water from the beach of Skedans.

Haida Gwaii had (and still has) a huge lumber industry, probably one of the main centre focuses of all its resources. During European contact, Sea Otter pellets were really prized. Gold mines on the island were also sought after creating a gold rush, and canneries for fish were booming later as the island was settled. There is a lot of abandoned equipment on the island. Old machinery they used to move trees to the mill. They even used to have a railroad. All abandoned and falling apart.

 

The tour guide taught us that during WW2 some planes began to be made out of the Spruce Tree from Haida Gwaii. The tour guide highlighted one word – regression. From wood to metal in aviation felt like advancement. To make planes from wood felt like a step back in time, and many doubted the idea before it ever began. Yet it was lighter and faster than many expected, and was a big success. This idea of regression really struck me. Herbal medicine compared to modern medicine feels like a regression. Leaving a progressive city to move to a small town feels like a regression. Going from a well payed job to less paying job that fulfills you in other ways can also be argued like a regression. It’s these perceptions that keep us stuck in our ways. Afraid to experiment and let the results speak for themselves. Many people argued how moving to the island was a step forward, rather than a step back. No commuting, cheaper rents, more nature time, and they were now big fishes in small ponds of their niches. From the outside it looks like a step back, but some people have really moved forward in their lives by moving there.

The Haida people have many superstitions. It fascinates me these stories as they are very personal to the group where it is true. And I find our modern day to be superstitious as well. If there is one ticket left to an event we are thinking of going to then ‘it’s a sign’. At 11:11 we feel lucky. Shooting stars and make a wish, on your birthday too when you blow out the cake. We say the universe is helping us, supporting us, ‘guiding’ us. In Haida culture, when you are carving a canoe, if someone dies during the carving it is considered an omen to abandon the carving and not use that tree. There would be half carved out trees remaining scattered through the land back in the day. These canoes would be transporting 50 of your strongest and most capable men long distances, any reason to doubt its capabilities had to be addressed. I learned as well that when Haida people use the Cedar tree to weave hats for example, they would only strip a very thin amount, and never on the side of the tree where people would see. Apparently it would be shameful to do so.

The Haida host many Potlach’s. It was a sign of wealth to host them, and was a huge festival of food and giving, sometimes lasting multiple days. Raising a pole, a death, a birth, celebrating a chief or an important moment were all reasons to throw a Potlach. You were judged in these events by how much one could give away. The chiefs of the villages would host these Potlach’s and when a chief died, a pole would be erected for him that would display how many potlaches he hosted. Each ring on a totem pole like the one below show how many Potlaches that chief had.

 

 

Following my time in the southern part of the island I migrated to the middle of the island, a whopping maybe 45 minutes away. I hitch hiked to a music festival which was playing there. It was great to see some phenomenal music in contrast to such a deserted, under developed island in Mid-Northern Canada. The festival had tons of amazing bands and rappers. It was an incredible experience.

The festival closed with a Haida drum circle. They sang a song for the woman, then one for the men, then one for the babies, and then one for the children. They had a song about discovering the gift you had inside you. I really loved that message. My current focus these days are questions like that. How is my time here helping the ‘whole’? Should I be working, going to school, seeing my sister, grandma, mom, etc? Asking myself if I am really doing what is of true value for the world. The host ended the ceremony by saying everyone is here at the festival for a reason. That was a calming (slightly dramatic) statement to me after feeling what I was feeling. I suppose I’m exploring, maybe that’s the reason. It can feel hard to gauge the value of these trips in the long term. Sure I felt happy, maybe that’s the only metric that should count.  It was a nice indulgence that ended on Sunday as I made my way to a hostel for two nights. The next morning I journeyed to the northern part of the island.

The Haida wish to have trees to carve 1000 years from now. They are planning today for the old growths for their lineage next millennia. One issue they are having is that deer keep eating the shrubs of the new trees that grow. Deer is an invasive species (aka an introduced species that now lives without any predator) and it is eating all their medicinal plants. The seeds for these trees are underground, waiting to grow, but the beginning of the plant gets immediately eaten.  Fenced off areas are trying to protect the plants and trees from deer’s. The seeds are literally dormant, waiting under the ground, for their day to become a tree.

I hitched up to the North next.

Standing on the Northern beaches that morning, seeing Alaska in the distance, and the nothingness but giant amounts of ocean and sky, was profound. It felt so sacred in the moment, and it was so impulsive. It was a spontaneous “I’ll go to Haida Gwaii” which brought me here. It was a “Sure, let’s visit the Northern part” attitude. All this easy going direction led to a really glorious conclusion. I sat down abit and reflected on it all.

 

When middle of nowhere
stats to feel familiar
its glorious
its scary
Foreign and love
Medicinal and inedible
Heaven like, it has an area code
clouds and rainbows
Whys this rare?
There no gate keeper
The doors are wide open
Yet there’s no one in line for it
the best things in life
are out there
unconsidered
under our radar
In
this life
this incarnation
this generation
this economy and circumstance
can do it.
Beauty is hope.
Hope is sacred.
It too is volatile.
Heaven is held by a thread.
It’s that delicate
the mountains and oceans are strong, they will last.
The observer is actually the one hanging by the thread. Me. Us.
Not this place.
Moments like this are the flowers boldest days, its richest time.
I am the garden, full of life, and am the seasons, full of come and go. Travel is seasons.
The burst of experience, the rest after the finish. Moving freely, wildly, lightly tip toeing here.
Like a dancer, floating as I walk. The clothes to keep me grounded. Immersed in space, alive again.
Nature is a tarot card. Today you are free, my today last forever. Even still, id gift it to tomorrow. Voluntarily change and accept to pull my flag and sell the cloth and wood to feed us. It feels just as human. Thanks glory, let’s go back to reality. To the city. I’ll bring you. Hold you. Cherish and honour you. I respect you belong here. That’s true. Ill bid my Namaste to you. I am the camera validating this is real. Yet no picture can capture this. But I’m your selfie; I’m
your creative expression. 

 

After sitting and writing, my next goal was a small mountain top on the far corner of the island. It was a bit less busy on this road, and the first truck that drives by me is carrying the group who I did my first tour with in the south. What an interconnected moment! They picked me up and we explored the north together with a guide. Life has so many hidden doors, but doors don’t come to you, you have to be moving to find them. I never imagined waking up that morning, reconnecting to the group from days ago, now driving on the beach with a guide on this distant island. It all felt so meant to be. The invisible force weaving everything together. It felt like a reward for trying, for risking, for putting myself out there. There’s a quote I love that encompasses this. It goes something like “Start moving so I may start blessing”.

I felt really lucky the way it all worked. I separated from the group after our hike up the small mountain/hill and began making my way to the older village in Northern Haida Gwaii called Masset. They say during pre-contact with Europeans the Haida had around 50,000 people. Post contact when disease like smallpox spread, the numbers dropped to as low as 600. These few hundred people conjugated into two places on the island, one in the north and the other in the south. One of these was Masset.

 

Haida being an oral tradition of storytelling and history suddenly lost a lot of its wisdom and records. There were no elders to turn to especially as they were dying that fast. As well, Potlaches became banned, and public schools became introduced. Haida is a very visual culture. The word art does not exist in their language. Everything was art, it was inseparable. Nothing existed without it. When these laws and rules were forced upon them, a lot of the visual references they relied on were gone. Aswell the upheaval of their culture from those taking their cultural artifacts, as mentioned before, made their roots appear less and less noticeable. I see how the Haida animals and drawings on water bottles, mugs, and hats for example puts the symbols back into the world, and out of hiding.

Masset had some totem poles which were great to see, and a very nice ocean town with tons of smiling faces.

I hitch hiked almost entirely on this trip. There were gaps during some rides, and one point of the hitch hiking took a long time to get picked up. Only once, but it did happen, funny enough at a location which had a thumb for hitchhiking.

 

 

There were a lot of commonalities shared by the locals. Everyone has a reason for visiting the island. A friend invited them, a story they heard about it from someone, or short work stint. Usually they were already settled somewhere else when they visited, but the island summoned a feeling in them they couldn’t resist, and they moved there shortly after. Come for one reason, and stay for another.

Ofcourse I was not picked up by those who visited this island once and never again, so there stories are silent.

 

Trips can be very individualistic and one of a kind. I couldn’t repeat that journey in any way. The destinations yes. But the people along the way are always new. Each ride contained stories. I met a judge, tour guides, people from Germany, Vancouver, tons of locals, and got to really hear so much about people’s lives. It felt so honest and connecting. It was those pieces that were harder to predict. I planned to see sights, but the side bonuses were these awesome connections.

 

So why did this place choose me, as the first person I met on the island said. Who knows? I was thinking that when I was about to fly back to Vancouver. I had a lot of awareness that some things don’t make sense in the short term, but in the long term. We judge things so quickly and impulsively that we don’t give them enough time to come full circle. On my last day I did a hike called Spirit Lake. Just the intention of calling a lake that says so much. The story had to do with a supernatural being that lived there.

In the Haida language Haawa means thank you.

Haawa Haida Gwaii for the stories and memories! ❤

 

 

 

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