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The Company You Keep

October 27, 2009

Aside from being called “Into The Wild” by all of my friends (I think it’s the beard), the second most common comment I’ve gotten on my recent adventure is “You did it all by yourself?”

Recently I took a month long road trip from Los Angeles, California to Jasper in Alberta, Canada. I drove 5,704 miles in my car and passed through 3 states and two countries. I spent roughly 15 nights under the sky, 8 nights crashing with friend’s, 7 nights crashing with strangers, 3 nights shacked in a hostel, and 1 night on an island. And yes, I did it all by myself. To me it seems pretty normal. I don’t mind driving long distances by myself, camping in the wilderness by myself, or sleeping on a pull-out bed at a stranger’s house. For the most part I always thought that people see this as a strange thing because they’re afraid of being attacked by stranger, they can’t camp, or are scared of navigating by themselves. But recently I’ve found most people have a much more interesting answer than that.

The other day at my jiu-jitsu class a team mate claimed he wasn’t sure he could do it because he was afraid of being in his thoughts for that long. I thought that was an interesting answer. I suppose to me I’ve never had a problem with being in my own head. I think like everyone else sometimes I tend to fantasize situations that don’t exist. Or worry too much about things that I can’t control. But for the most part I feel pretty comfortable with my own self and sitting in silence once in awhile. And I think it’s a trait not enough people have.

I think these days people are over-stimulated and filled with insecurities. These insecurities stems from many sources. I blame the media for making us second guess our image, questioning whether we’re too fat, whether we’re wearing the right jeans, or if we’re engaging in “normal” activities. I blame closed-minded people of all walks of life for not accepting the great diversity found in life and spreading their beliefs. Whether it’s a religious ideology, an “abnormal” sexuality, or a unconventional point of view. I think all of these outside sources cause us to judge ourselves, and make us question whether we’re “normal” or not.

During breakfast with my friend yesterday she said something very interesting. She was talking about a friend of hers and said something along the lines of, “… he’s crazy. I mean I know I’m crazy in my own way. But he’s crazy.” Something about that self acknowledgment that she was crazy in her own way struck me. I think in a certain sense we’re all crazy. I know I do somethings that a lot of people might see as crazy, and visa versa. We’re all different, we’re all crazy in our own ways. But I think being comfortable with yourself is about accepting your own intricacies, idiosyncrasies, and foibles. Accepting those imperfections as something that you can’t always control, but as something that doesn’t make you strange or crazy either.

In this book I’m reading, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, the author argues that we’re not our thoughts. That our worries about the future, our concerns with the past, they all stem from the ego. The ego being a part of our brain created by societal influences and pressures. These “crazy” thoughts, these worries, they’re not part of our being, they’re like dust and debris floating through the air. Part of the air itself- but not as a part of its being, rather an impurity found within. And it’s in our best interest to ignore them, and just live in the “now”. Clearly his beliefs are a bit more complicated than that watered down explanation. But my main point here is that the best way to deal with ones thoughts is to simply ignore them and enjoy the moment that surrounds you. You cannot change the past, you cannot force the future, you can only enjoy right now.

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