I went and did it – I sold everything I own. I am now free of the USA and the Western world. No more furniture, no car to maintain, and no home to rent out. Poof – all gone.
I feel liberated.
My stuff didn’t make me happy. Adventures and exploring make me happy. I don’t need my sofa or bed – I can fall asleep on a plank now.
I live in bungalows on the beach, ashrams in the mountains, temples, tents, hotels and family guesthouses. I teach photography and yoga and stay open to change. I work as I live, moving and staying in a place for two to six months then going somewhere new.
It feels light; like I lost a hundred pounds and can now fly free. I love this feeling of no car insurance, no bookcases, no huge hulking objects, and did I mention no car to take care of? I cashed in the car when I went to South America for 6 months. I feel like I’m floating.
Houston we have lift-off.
Now I can be happy eating a banana. The pear and fresh cheese from Italy help too. I’m rich.
I started to travel and teach five years ago taking 6 to 8 month chunks of time to do it. I discovered a new universe of helping non –profits with photography and writing, conversing with kids in schools, and enjoying my life without having to keep up with California.
With no itinerary, no big budget, and very little electricity I’ve ridden elephants bareback in Nepal, taught yoga in India, photographed the Dalai Lama, meditated in holy caves, taught salsa dancing to babies in Colombia, and surfed in Ecuador and Peru.
While my colleagues were seeing their retirement accounts dwindle and patronizing upscale bars I was hitchhiking in the Himalayas freezing my ass off on the highest motor-able pass in the world in Ladakh and being invited to live in a home for abandoned people in Argentina; feeding them soup with a big dose of love. I discovered that living a simple life was better than buying the latest Italian cashmere sweater, overpriced jeans, or drinking premium red wine from California vineyards every night.
The West has a lot of knowledge but not much wisdom. Wisdom is what I find in Asia; being invited into the homes of people who live in a mud brick dwelling who happily offer their food and friendship, or in a nunnery where the nuns are living 4 to a room but laugh and pray all day and get me to smile just by their presence and freshness.
I don’t have a wealthy family who supports me or a spouse who sends me cash. I’m an artist and writer, with my own photography business. I raised a son and supported my family on the income from my business in one of the priciest places to live on the planet in northern California.
I am grateful.
I took the chance to do what I loved to do and got paid for it. Living life this way without working for a big corporation and lots of perks taught me to leap into the unknown and trust that you will fall in rose petals.
When I first started traveling I would go back to the States every 6 to 8 months to work at my photography business, see my family and friends and then leave again. I’d touch down in the Western world, go into culture shock, get down to business, and a few months later get on a plane and leave.
Now that I am a professional vagabond I don’t have to go back. I will stay here in paradise. Koh Phangan has taken hold of my ankles and held me in this mystical aura of no stress, devastatingly gorgeous nature, barbecued catfish and other delicacies I can’t identify.
I notice I’m still here. I only leave to get a new visa.
I have tried to buy plane tickets to other countries but when the web site asks me to hit the submit payment information my finger will not do it.
I have learned in my round the globe travels when you find a place you love just stay and soak it up. It took 3 years to figure that out. I pushed myself to cross more borders and search other mountains and swim on new seashores. Now I have friends all over the world and the longer I stay in one place the longer I want to stay.
It is starting to feel like home here. Where is home? In my backpack. In my connection to a place, the way I feel in the morning when I see the sun rise on my beach that I share with the sky and the palm trees.
This is where God gets drunk. In Koh Phangan, Thailand.
Rinpoche, my Tibetan Buddhist lama and teacher from Sikkim gave me a fresh perspective on my travels – he said, “It’s all a passing show – everything changes.” And did you know that strokes are caused by stress and worry?
I won’t be dying of stress that is for sure.
My stress involves getting on a plane and taking my Vans sneakers off and asking to have my film hand-inspected. Or running to catch a train in India and almost missing it; the huckster I was buying potato chips from in the station would not give me my 40 rupees change back, the robber. My train was leaving and my luggage was on it. RUN for your life! So I abandoned the huckster and my rupees and ran to catch it as my Macbook thumped on my chest about to get a heart attack – that case is damn heavy.
So it costs more to be working in California than it does to be here in Thailand eating pad thai, swimming in the ocean, exploring, and teaching photo safaris.
Teaching doesn’t feel like work to me. It feels like real life. I like to share in 3 hours what took me 25 years to figure out in photography and encourage my students to shoot the moon with unbridled enthusiasm.
Being a nomad is what I have dreamed of doing for years. I am free to wander the globe and let the universe guide me. After traveling and teaching on 4 continents in 26 countries I feel more than ever that I am just beginning to see how large the world is and how much more I want to see and experience. Wanderlust is now my full time job.