We are born to see patterns.
Recognizing a human face is so hardwired into our brains that we begin to search them out wherever we glance. We see faces in the clouds, in the stars, pieces of toast. The randomness of each has been commonly misconstrued as a sign from the heavens.
“LOOK! I found the face of Jesus on this piece of toast! Isn’t that amazing?”
“Are you sure your mind isn’t just seeing what it wants to see? Plus, you really burnt that toast.”
“What, so Jesus can’t be black?!”
You get the idea.
Using familiar patterns is what the human brain is all about. It’s how we learn to feed ourselves, clothe ourselves and use the potty. All at the same time if you’re really talented. But sometimes our brains become hyperactive in their pattern-making and we begin to see steps into the future that don’t exist. Just because some people have become famous from making a sex-tape doesn’t mean you will too, so keep yours under wraps. Until you’re famous of course, then have at it.
We are the sum of the people that surround us in our daily lives; friends, family, coworkers. Using them as examples for what life should be, we hew to what has been done before and fail to create our own patterns. Following in the footsteps of those that came before you takes some of the randomness out of the chaos of life but it reduces the chance you’ll leave your footprint on the world. You should still have friends but remember, like Momma always said, “If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you do it too?”
This may all seem very similar to a Fight Club-like rant, railing against a system you’re unwillingly a part of, but we’re not supposed to talk about that. Life is a series of random events largely outside our control that we apply significance to by how they effect our lives and plans. The only meaning that life has is the one that we find for ourselves. And that meaning can change as you change. Rigidity in a system only exposes cracks as it shifts and ages.
Find the patterns that make you happy and fulfilled and pursue them with all that you are. No one can discover the world for you.
Philosophizing aside, here’s what has worked for us for the past few years on the road: Embrace the Chaos. Travel is a paradigm shifting without a clutch, going with the flow is usually the only way to stay sane.
During the Burma and India legs of our travels in 2014 we made no long-term plans, we had no destinations in mind, and we couldn’t have been happier. The only pattern we made sure to follow was wake up, sleep and don’t die in between. And frankly, we killed it. That style of travel doesn’t work for everyone, some people need an itinerary to hold some control over the chaos, and that’s a perfectly valid way to travel too. The unknown is scary, but it is far less terrifying than the never-knowing.
Patterns come from our upbringing, our experiences and our plans for the future. They shape who we are and how we see the world. Answer yourself truthfully about what matters to you and how you can keep those things in focus while life keeps throwing randomness at you.
Don’t let the thinking patterns of others influence you too greatly. Advice is always welcome, but you are ultimately in control of yourself and your worldview.
What patterns do you see in your life? How do you handle the chaos life throws at you?
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