No more “Yeah, but..”

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3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

by  on JULY 19, 2011
The other night, I had a conversation with a young woman who had a number of decisions ahead of her, one of which is whether she would go to grad school or travel the world.I told her to travel. Hands down. No excuse. Just go.

She sighed.

“Yeah, but…”

Never were more fatal words spoken.

Yeah, but… what about debt?
Yeah, but… what about my job?
Yeah, but… what about my boyfriend (or dog or car or whatever)?

“Yeah, but…” is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should.

It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job and traveled still did those things — eventually.

Be careful of the yeah-but. The yeah-but will kill your dreams.

I was so stirred by this conversation that I shared it with a group of about thirty young adults last night, many of which are asking these very questions.

The life you’ve always wanted

When you get older, life seems to just sort of happen to you. Your youth is a time of total empowerment.

You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important.

So if you still have a reasonable amount of control over your circumstances, you should do what really matters. Because life won’t always be just about you.

During early adulthood, your worldview is still being formed. It’s important to steward this time — to give yourself opportunities to grow. A good way to do that is to travel.

So, young person, travel.

Travel wide and far.
Travel boldly.
Travel with full abandon.

You will regret few risks you take, when it comes to this. I promise you.

There are three reasons to travel while you’re young:

1. Traveling teaches you to live an adventure

When you look back on your life, you will have moments of which you are proud and maybe a few you regret. It’s likely that the following won’t be on the latter list:

  • Bicycled across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Appeared on Italian TV.
  • Hiked a Mayan ruin.
  • Learned Spanish in three months.
  • Toured Europe by train.

They’re not on mine (fun fact: I’ve done all of the above)

What, then, will be?

  • Holding back.
  • Being afraid.
  • Making excuses.
  • Not taking more risks.
  • Waiting.

While you’re young, you should travel.

You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. It is worth whatever monetary investment or time sacrifice that is required on your part.

It’s not about being a tourist. It’s about learning the importance of experiencing true risk and adventure so that you don’t have to live in fear for the rest of your life.

2. Traveling helps you encounter compassion

In your youth, you will make choices that will define you. The disciplines you begin now will be with you for the rest of your life.

Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you.

If you go to southeast Asia, you may encounter the slave trade. If eastern Europe, you may see the effects of genocide and religious persecution. If Haiti, you’ll witness the the ugly side Western paternalism.

Your heart will break.

You will begin to understand that the world is both a big and small place. You will have a newfound respect for the pain and suffering that over half of the world takes for granted on a daily basis. And you will feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way.

You will learn to care.

3. Traveling allows you to get some culture

While you’re still young, you should get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it.

There’s nothing quite like walking alongside the Coliseum or seeing Michelangelo’s David in person. I can describe the city of San Juan and its amazing beaches and historic sites to you, but you really have to see it for yourself to experience it. You can read all the books in the world about the Great Wall of China or The Louvre, but being there is a different story.

The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

Do this while you’re still young. Do not squander this time. You will never have it again.

You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap.

Please. For your sake, do this.

You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion.

“What if I’m not young?”

Travel, anyway. It may not be easy to do, but find a way to get out of your comfort zone. It’s really never too late.

But if you haven’t gotten sucked into the routine of life yet, I implore you — travel. It will never be easier than it is right now for you to do that which really matters.

do this with me next time ?

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the greenness of your grass

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Chances are, you’re not going to be alone forever.

Start spending more time with you. Laugh at your own jokes. Luxuriate in solitary silence. Walk. Read. Pamper yourself. Be as filthy and disgusting as you please. Learn the comfort of your own embrace. It’s a cliché but it’s true—you will love better once you’ve fallen in love with you. Sleep sprawled on the bed. Snore. When you wake up make eggs and bacon and eat them in bed on your own. Find things—big and small—that you love doing and do them everyday.

Focus on your job. Find a hobby. Do whatever the hell you want. Because when that day comes—the secret day you hold onto in the hidden recesses of your guts—you will have to compromise. You will have to think of someone else whenever you make a decision. You will have to share your bacon, and maybe they wont like it crispy besides, and you’ll have to adapt. You will have to sleep wedged between someone’s limbs. It wont be better and it wont be worse; it will be different, and you’ll have to learn to love it too.

halfway around the world (not quite)

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i wish i could do this !

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hahaha.. scare you !


forget reality. we are our own.

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We snagged, just for a second there, didn’t we? We bumped our heads together like idiots and we both came up concussed. Everything was going so wonderfully, I was so delirious for you, but then… well, it’s life happening, not some romantic dream. And I hope, I really do wish it with my eyes squeezed tightly closed and my hands balled firmly into fists at my sides as I concentrate, that next time we see each other we forget what’s “real” and indulge in our reality instead.

Because our reality, right now, it’s just about falling in love. Let’s put the real stuff aside—the past, our insecurities, all the baggage we’ve imported from all our journeys—and let’s just be. This is our moment to be fanciful, and we might not get another one, at least not together. I don’t want to have to “deal” and “cope” and “work” yet. For now I just want to kiss you and lose myself in all the small moments when you wrap your arms all the way around me.

Things are complicated, I know, but let’s soar above that, at least for a day. Let’s make getting to know each other about all the wonderful things that made us fall into each other’s embrace in the first place. Let’s not mar it with all the ugly crap we’ve filled our pockets with over the course of the years we’ve already lived without each other’s company. And then, once we’re madly in love, and only then, we can unleash it all upon each other, so that we’re equipped to deal with it the way that lovers do—patiently and compassionately.

You know how it is when we’re laughing? That’s how I want it to be all the time when we’re together. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not idealistic or selfish—if you’re having a bad day I will be there to hold you and hold you until you don’t feel sore anymore, and I’ll do it without complaint or request. I’ll do it because I care about you deeply. But listen: we’re not ready for the heaviness of the past yet. We can share and laugh and rub away each other’s daily miseries but I don’t want to delve into the backwardness of all that came before. Not yet, at least.

I want you to trust me and know that every time I look at you all I see is wonderfulness. I see lights and rainbows and everything good and awesome about this world all radiating out of you at once. Yes, I’m intense and yes, I’m romantic, but can’t you just take my adoration for a second and let it make you as happy as it makes me? Relax into me, because I’ve got you on a pedestal now, and there’s no one else in the room but us. And this is half the reason I don’t want to share the dirty stuff with you—because every now and then you make me feel so warm it’s as though nothing else ever existed.

We could be best friends, you and me; we’re so alike in so many ways. And now we have to decide whether we’re going to knock our likenesses against each other and explode into tiny bits that splatter against the walls, streaking downwards and pooling in insidious puddles, or if we can make those likenesses build each other up, like great cities or rolling mountains. I’d like to think that we could be a team, that we could conquer everything together. That we’ll draw from each other to be stronger and better. That we’ll still be holding hands through all of winter’s blizzards.

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