Tag Archives: life

Backpacker Generation: Why “Leaving it all Behind” doesn’t Work.

By Lauren Klarfeld

What we carry in our backpacks is the weight of our fears.

Some backpacks are made on a swift decision. Others are planned months in advance and ticked off with a checklist. Certain backpacks are made out of choice, and sometimes others are made because we had no choice. Be it to go far or to go hide next door. When we are making a backpack, there is more to it than just physical weight.

As I laid out the remainder of my clothes on an empty table and zipped up my backpack, I knew I was trying to pack a mess. I made a decision almost a year ago that I didn’t want to be committed to an apartment, a contract, rent or a job that didn’t move me. That it had all seemed pointless after so many years to work so many hours, not only to support myself since I was 18 but also to work for things I didn’t always believe in. The home I was in, the job I had and some of the people I knew just didn’t feel like “home” anymore.

What I wanted was the freedom to go whenever I wanted to.

Go incognito and re-invent myself in every new place I was in. Dare to do those things I never felt comfortable doing before. My plan had been to volunteer from hostel to hostel paying no rent in exchange for free labour. The months that followed I walked around a city with the feeling that a weight had been taken off of me. I was alone but I had chosen to be alone. If anything I was a solitaire. And it was liberating for once to look at myself that way.

But like any backpacker, I had given up the vertical ease of a closet where all my clothes had been aligned for years for a horizontal goulash of textile wrapped one under the other. I had come with a full backpack and that was all I allowed myself to carry.

When we see things in such a constrained space or possibility, it somehow gives us perspective on the fact that one needs to be sure of their choices.

Suddenly, we cannot spend two hours trying on different clothes as we struggle with our own image—because there is just no space nor mirrors for us to do. Perfectly ironed t-shirts are a thing of the past too when you travel. And adding things to a backpack becomes a burden as it weighs heavier and heavier. And every time we pick out a t-shirt it is like rambling our hands through a lottery machine—one never knows what they’ll pick out.

The idea of leaving it all behind to live life like a vagabond has been very appealing for years in my generation. But we seldom realise that this kind of life without commitments sometimes comes at the cost of a life without the conveniences we once knew: a home to call our own, a toothbrush in a fixed place, old friends to go to when we’re having a bad day or even a home cooked meal from our mother.

See, backpacks are emblems to travelers. They symbolize the travelers’ mobile nature and our need for freedom to go whenever we want to. They are built to accommodate easy access and storage. And a backpacker needs that like he needs air: the possibility and reminder that he can move and is constrained by nothing.

But when we spend enough time on the road, whether we want to or not, our backpacks mutate. And so do we.

As I moved to this kind of lifestyle in Madrid, I realized that what was once an emblem of mobility, now became a painstaking weight to carry around. I had gone from one store to the other buying new clothes just to fit with the local’s style. I bought one colorful dress after the other and thought it was a victory for the past tomboy that I was. I hated dresses really, but here abroad I thought I could push myself to like them and no one would notice. And the summer was the worst, as this frail white skinned Belgian girl who had never experienced a real summer suddenly had to walk legs and arms uncovered.

When traveling and wanting to change ourselves, we sometimes become schizophrenic chameleons in places whose language we are still learning and borrowing. And as thrilling as it is to go incognito anywhere and re-invent one’s self—some days, we just aren’t lively chameleons. Some days, we are just lost cats that hide under cars waiting for the traffic to pass.

Little do we know that sometimes the backpacks we are carrying are in fact heavy with burdensome personal baggage already. Somehow, all the while that we pack our underwear and t-shirts, our bags are already bursting with the layers of our constant self-questioning, our fears, our inner critic, and sometimes lack of self-love.

When we travel we get rid of our old comforts and routines. And so we grow more aware of who we are and who we aren’t, and of the difference between who we want to be and who we are right now. The kind of contrast we only ever really see when we get confronted with the blank canvas of ourselves echoed by the amount of free time and liberty we have when traveling or being in a new chapter of our lives.

In the end, it isn’t just about wanting to escape what we had before, it is mostly about escaping who we were before.

We are mostly introverts that are seeking a way to grow out of it. We rarely think that growth isn’t just about pushing ourselves to become who we want to be. Sometimes, we just become who we want to become eventually, by making the choices that we’re asked not by our mind or our heart, but by our gut. Sometimes, it’s when looking back, rather than forward, that we see better today the person we are becoming.

So that day as I made my backpack again in these last seven months. I was offered a lesson on acceptance. I laid all my clothes and beauty products on a bed, and decided I’d make two bags this time.

One with all the things that I had always felt resembled me and that I needed. And another with all the things I bought that I thought I might need. And left behind only the last one.

In life or in travel, if we want to set out on an adventure with ourselves, the best backpacks we’ll ever make are those that will leave extra room for our own personal baggage.

And acknowledging this is what will allow us to carry it in the first place…

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You Nailed It!

Happiness! Oh boy, oh boy — do I get to tell you all about happiness today? Wowzers… but who am I to start pretending I know anything about happiness?⁣

Nope, I don’t know what happiness is. In fact, I have a hunch no one does — anyone and everyone seems to define it differently, pursue it differently, but whoever actually gets there?⁣

Sure, some people manage to get rich — but do they get happy in the process? At first, a little, maybe — but does that stick?⁣

The most common definition of happiness out there seems to equate it to feeling good. But does feeling good lead to happiness? Well, does smoking crack lead to happiness?⁣

You may feel I’m exaggerating right now, and I am — except I’m not. When we pursue pleasure or means of gaining pleasure, we’re doing the same as looking for a crack hit, albeit with a more “reasonable” attitude. By “reasonable”, I mean that the negative side-effects aren’t as immediately obvious or destructive.⁣

For example, there are these people I know who went on to pursue a career to make lots of money, invested all that money in a cool house with a kick-ass pool in the backyard. They bought a boat, too — a nice one. They drank wine, ate steak — they weren’t exactly rich but upper-middle-class. They had a sweet life. But then eventually, it stopped working. Whatever they spent their lives doing became boring — a pool, a boat, and even wine will keep you entertained for only so long until you need to move on to something else.⁣

Everything gets boring sooner or later. When it does, we need new and more intense excitement to keep us to that same level of happiness. But there’s a catch with all this: money. Better wine, a bigger house, and ever more exotic travels cost more money.⁣

When my two friends’ careers leveled off, when the salaries stopped going up, then that pursuit of happiness reached a serious snag. They couldn’t get their necessary hits of pleasure anymore, and so they started being depressed. They started smoking more, drinking more, watching more TV and going out less. And eventually, that killed them.⁣

Not that there’s anything wrong with dying. I mean we all die anyway, but it’d be nice not to end our days miserable and completely lost in our souls, still vehemently looking for solace in pleasure. It’d be nice to die peaceful, wouldn’t it?⁣

I can’t tell you what happiness is, but I can tell you what it’s not: a pursuit. Happiness isn’t there, it’s not anywhere — it can’t be gained, if we try to catch it’ll just slip away. That’s why they call it a pursuit. It’s an eternal carrot on a stick.⁣

This pursuit, that constant desire for something more, is what’s keeping us nicely chained and well-behaved members of consumerist societies. In the past, it was a religion that kept us chained and well-behaved — religion being the promise of something better in the hereafter. Consumerism outsmarted religion by offering the hope of something better in the therebefore, within this lifetime.⁣

But it’s still hope, and the system is entirely dependent on hope remaining hope.⁣

No, this won’t do at all. Happiness isn’t something to be hoped for — that turns the whole experience of life into one major crack addiction.⁣

Happiness, if it has to be anything, has to be in the here and now. Look around you, savor the beauty, enjoy the air. It’s not about how lucky or comfortable you are — it’s about how crazy, interesting, and beautiful this world is beyond our own personal needs or desires.⁣

Happily here, happily now,

—Day THe Spiritual Astronaut

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Patiently Waiting

“Any new position from which you view your reality will change your perception of its nature. It’s all literally a matter of perspective.” – Maya Ibuki

Isn’t it just?

Whatever the situation is it always comes down to perception. Different angle, different perception. Different people, different perception different experience. To see the big picture, you have to view any given situation at all angles before reaching a conclusion, otherwise, you will miss the opportunity to see different possibilities and choices.

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Is there anyone there who could relate? 

The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are. —Fernando Pessoa

I can.

My son said to me yesterday that the things I remember most from my childhood are not memories but longing and those that bordering on supernatural are brought on by psychosis. I remember them clearly not because it did really happen but because I believe they did. Memories are seldom complete he said. Most of the times we fill in the blanks and it becomes our reality.

Needless to say, I don’t believe him. I know what is real and what is not. And If I would fantasize or imagine anything it would not be one of my experiences. I will conjure up happy thoughts so I could fly away to Neverland. There are things that cannot be explained by any logical or scientific means. My son has to understand that. Other memories of mine that have nothing to do with paranormal or supernatural, I could believe there are some holes in it. But I don’t fill them up with my own imaginations, I just can’t remember the whole picture. Sometimes they are just a blank canvas, others have snatches of colors and outlines of some forgotten scenes often too vague for me to recognize.

I never have a desire to be someone else, but rather I have longings for different circumstances for myself. Perhaps being born into another family, country, situation, been given different chances in life, things like that. Nostalgia for something that never was I have experienced only once. I wrote a book about it. I sometimes still think about what could have been if what never was is a reality exactly the way I’ve imagined it but know only too well that it is next to impossible to happen. Perhaps it could once upon a time but interference from people and fate rendered my wish futile.

My painful landscapes consist indeed of the feelings that hurt most, absurd or not, but from different nature than those that had been mentioned above. They are both from memories and experience and I can sum them up easily in one word: betrayal- in all sense of that word.

How I wish there is an eternal sunset on my painful landscapes. It is preferable over the total darkness of what I am…

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But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem

Depression does not always mean
Beautiful girls shattering at the wrists
A glorified, heroic battle for your sanity
Or mothers that never got the chance to say good-bye

Sometimes depression means
Not getting out of bed for three days
Because your feet refuse to believe
That they will not shatter upon impact with the floor

Sometimes depression means
That summoning the willpower
To go downstairs and do the laundry
Is the most impressive thing you accomplish that week

Sometimes depression means
Lying on the floor staring at the ceiling for hours
Because you cannot convince your body
That it is capable of movement

Sometimes depression means
Not being able to write for weeks
Because the only words you have to offer the world
Are trapped and drowning and I swear to God I’m trying

Sometimes depression means
That every single bone in your body aches
But you have to keep going through the motions
Because you are not allowed to call in to work depressed

Sometimes depression means
Ignoring every phone call for an entire month
Because yes, they have the right number
But you’re not the person they’re looking for, not anymore.

―Hannah Nicole a.k.a. twentysixscribbles

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Privacy is dead, and attention is the new currency.

When we encounter people around our own age who appear more contentedly creative or professional or in love than we are, the doubt is like a passing “Ahem.” It’s light enough to carry in a briefcase. We confront it in the pages of our empty notebooks. In moments of sleepless worry, we wrest the blanket away from it, feel it in the heat of our own faces. This is the doubt that drips steadily from the computer screen as we scan Facebook and watch what our contemporaries are up to — or watch what our contemporaries want us to believe they are up to, online lives carefully curated to impress. —Lillian Schneider

D. said to me that if I die before him, he will never have another romantic relationship anymore. (Of course, I don’t believe it. What a notion!) Not only because he firmly believes in one love in one lifetime (he was a virgin when I met him) he said he doesn’t want a queue of women waiting for him in heaven after he died. (There are so many things that don’t fit in this scenario of his but I don’t want to burst his bubble) He wants that he can meet me there without hassles and continue what we have started here on the land of the living. (What can I say? Maybe there will be no queue for him, but what about me?) He said also that he is not sure if he could trust another human being ever. Enough to abandon his principles and embark into another affair which could lead to a second marriage. He wants to hold onto the memories of us and he’s afraid that what we have will be erased if he ever falls in love again. And if he did he will walk away from it he said to preserve our moments together until we meet in heaven again.

I agree with his theory of not trusting another human being again enough to jump into another romantic relationship. In my case, I don’t want it not because I want to preserve my moments with D. or anything, I just don’t want it anymore. I cannot see myself adapting to another situation once again, getting to know someone, getting used to someone’s ‘else ways of seeing and doing things, making compromises, morphing my life with another’s, no, I don’t want to do that all over again. Just to think that for the sake of concessions and peace I have to adapt and adjust is too much to even consider. I don’t know if I would like the smell of that person, his way of chewing food, if he snores or not, his (personal) hygiene habits and believe you me I don’t want to find out. I have experienced already both sides of the coin and more. That’s enough for me. I will concentrate on doing what I like and nobody will be there to applaud or criticize me, most of all telling me what to do.

Besides, in this age of SocMed this and that, you don’t know anymore who is real and who is fake. People change their minds every minute without a second thought and why not when there are so many choices lying around, all attainable with just a click of the mouse. The morals and values I grew up with and holding tightly onto are passé for this current society. They laugh at honesty, loyalty, integrity, and dignity. They frown at faithfulness, truthfulness, and justice. They spit on the face of love care and respect and they know nothing (or they don’t want to know) about how it is to be authentic. No, thank you. If I ever find myself alone again, alone I shall be till the end of my days.

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Thoughts To Ponder

We live in initiatory times when each soul can feel more isolated amidst the dying breath of one world and the uncertainty that attends the forming of life’s next design. It is not the lack of time that we modern people suffer from, but a lack of connection to things timeless, mythic and eternal. – Michael Meade

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Both Sides Now

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughin’ when you go
And if you care don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say, “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say
I’ve changed, but something’s lost
But something’s gained in living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all…

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Dying Slowly

Is this what I am doing???

You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.

You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.

You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking every day on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.

You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.

You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice.”

– Pablo Neruda 

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Understanding Madness

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” 
― Philip K. Dick

Very dangerous Idea. Imagine omitting the “sometimes” from the above sentence and what you got is a powerful conviction (or excuse) to do something outrageous.

Having said that, There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when the reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind. I guess that is what happened to my sister, she has gone insane to escape the sick reality of our lives.

Later on, she will choose to live on the streets than to face her responsibilities, leaving her six children behind. I’ve tried countless times to change her mind, fostering her kids, sending them to school, but although she will play with them and stay for a while, whenever I brought up the topic of her settling down with her children again, she will get hysterics and tell me she doesn’t want headaches anymore and she will disappear again, back to her old habits of moving from one place to another.

It hurts me to think of the horror she had been subjected to being the way she is and living the life she has chosen for herself. Sometimes, she will have deep cuts on her arms or bruises on her bodies. Other times, her hair had been chopped off badly and she was bleeding. Rumor has it she had been gang-raped in the cemetery… It breaks my heart but I am powerless to do anything. You cannot help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped.

I’ve nightmares about it and like her, I avoid thinking about her situation too much for the fear of joining her in her never-ending quest for peace of mind.

Yann Martel said: All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.

Maybe that is what my sister is doing, saving herself in the only way she knows how. It might seem insane to onlookers but to her it makes sense. I hope someday she will find what she is looking for. I hope she will find someone who understands her and will take care of her and show her how it is to be loved. She needs it. Love is something she never experienced in her life. Certainly not from my mother who hated her from the moment she was born. Hate she passed on to anyone and everything that has something to do with my sister including her children. I don’t understand it. I will never understand how someone let alone a mother could differentiate her love between her children? 

They say all parents do it, they love their children in different ways, seeing each child as an individual, each one with their own unique characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses and may find it easier to understand one child from another. That I could understand. But to hate and shun your own child calling her ugly among so many other derogatory terms is to me unacceptable. 

Maybe my mother had her own twisted reasons for doing it. She never told me when she was alive and now that she’s dead, I will never know why. Perhaps that is the madness of my mother, favoring one child among her children.

Maybe we are all mad here in Wonderland.

Emilie Autumn said:

Some are born mad, some achieve madness, and some have madness thrust upon ’em.

I believe the last one is my sister.

Her mind is too weak to cope with our dysfunctional family situations. But she’s not alone. None of us siblings survived the ordeal of growing up without scars, visible or invisible. The traumas manifested in all sorts of bizarre behaviors which in turn have lead into more compromising circumstances breeding the next generations of the likes of us.

God knows where it will lead.

According to the experts___

When you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.

I will keep this in mind.

When things become unbearable.

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The Illusion Of Success

No matter what you do, someone won’t be pleased. Someone will think your choices are wrong. And someone will tell you what should do instead. No matter which path you take, someone will seem to be doing better. Someone will have more than you. And someone else’s life may look more impressive on paper. If you’re being true to yourself, none of that will matter because you’ll have something more satisfying than approval and the illusion of “success”: a life that feels right for you, based on your own wants, needs, values, and priorities.


What if your biggest and hardest critic is yourself and your own brain never leaves you alone telling you that you could have done better. What if you don’t know what you want exactly and those you need turned out to be not what you think they are the moment you have them? What if in spite of being true to yourself following your heart down the path your mind told you to take sorting out your priorities properly and you are doing impressively better and better but still nothing feels right?  What then? What then? What then????????????

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The hierarchy of needs

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself. ― ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

This above quote made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which btw I failed miserably on all levels, no wonder I grew up to be the person I am today. On the other hand, I don’t exhibit most of the symptoms that I supposed to be having being deprived of almost all the basic needs that made up the whole pyramid. For example, I practice the above quote without knowing and I don’t crave attention, love or acceptance. I don’t form an attachment to anything or anyone But then again maybe I am what I am because I never pass the first hurdle which is the psychological needs. This means that if a human is struggling to meet their physiological needs, then they are unlikely to intrinsically pursue safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. That explains probably why. Perhaps my greatest issue is Self-actualization, which actually is not a surprise according to Maslow’s theory. Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs but master them. Though I believe and practice religiously what my father instilled into me which is to fulfill any task big or small with my utmost best, heart and soul or do not do it at all, I failed to utilize my talents and abilities pursuing my dreams (I prefer to call them that instead of goals) meaning success for me means translating one’s capabilities into monetary aspect. I wonder where that came from. It’s just so. And if my daughter is to be believed, my parenting proficiency is also next to nothing and let’s not talk about pursuing happiness because I miserably failed on that level too. So, what’s left? Me, a failure on all counts.

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