Grounding Myself During Perpetual Motion

After many months of plotting and daydreaming, I’ve finally stumbled into the reality that I set in motion so long ago. I am now a perpetual nomad. I now carry my world with me and wherever I am staying for the night is home.

The prospect makes me giggle when I’m alone at night, typing away at my computer. The reality of it makes me step back and wonder how I got here.

My home for a week in Eugene, O.R. Biker Nick just arrived from a long day trek through Oregon on his way towards Virginia, raising money for victims of domestic violence. Bluegrass Nick is a fixture at the hostel, keeping the faint melodies of his beautiful mandolin Molly lingering in the air and looking for the pinnacle pair of wingtips to complete his fashion statement.

And sometimes, the gravity of it sends me into cold sweats. Seriously, I have no home. My comforting stack of books isn’t resting by my bedside. My favorite kitchen knife is 2000 miles away and my furry little friend is now relaxing at the beach with her Grandmother.

How does one find comfort when the items of familiarity are gone? When every face is a new relationship, when every glance and “good morning” comes from a virtual stranger?

How do you ground yourself in a place you’ve never been before? How do you keep your sanity when you’re life has truly entered the perpetual present moment stage?

Only one factor makes this possible- KNOW THYSELF.

Seems trivial or obvious- but such a lifestyle- or unconventional travel in general- requires an intense knowledge of self. Beyond what is necessary in everyday life.

Everyday life brings about the comforts that keep us grounded- the nests we build in our homes, the faces we see at the office, the bus driver that greets us every morning and the barista who knows the particular way we take our morning latte.

When you step away from those elements of the familiar, you are left with yourself, your doubts and your strengths. And a battle will wage- fast and furious. Checking your bank account balance takes on a whole new meaning when you have to pay for the next 5 nights of lodging and your client’s invoice is past due. Staying in a hostel with strangers of a transient, and somewhat questionable disposition, takes a degree of awareness not normally tapped into on a regular basis. Finding a sense of community- any community- becomes a vital element to maintaining your sanity.

When I enter a new place for a temporary stay, I seek out the Third Place almost instantly. I stumbled upon the concept of the Third Place when one of my mentors handed me a copy of “The Great Good Place” which studied the community gathering spots throughout the world. The first place is home, the second place is work and the Third Place is where you find your community and where they gather. I grew up watching episodes of Cheers with my father and spent many years as a bartender- so the Third Place has been a part of my life for many decades.

And now The Third Place is my familiar- wherever I may find it.

After my first good nights sleep in a new location, I ask the person manning the front desk of my temporary home where the nearest coffee shop is and I hit the streets. I look for indications of community, bulletin boards, restaurants with vibrant porches, parks, pubs, local markets and grocery stores.

But my mother-ship is the Third Place. And my most comfortable Third Place is the vibrant coffee shop. The sights, the sounds, the smells- these all indicate a strong community that is grounded in the sharing of a beverage and conversation.

The Wandering Goat is one of my Third Places during my time in Eugene. This coffee shop is a staple in the Whiteaker neighborhood and remains hidden in the industrial areas of this eclectic community.

I am merely an outsider in their world, but in this environment I find my comfort zone. I can breathe. I can relax. And the stress of travel and the unknown aspects of tomorrow no longer matter in this moment. I have found my familiar- not the place, but the actual human interaction that happens within the place.

No matter where I am in the world, no matter the language, no matter the chaos and the conflict outside the walls of the Third Place- the humanity that unfolds within the walls of this safe haven reminds of my place in the world. The Third Place reminds me that everyone, everywhere is simply living their life in a manner that suits them- in a way that brings them some joy. In this space, community thrives- laughter, conversation, debate and dreams grow and move into the world.

Friends gather on the street corner in front of a Third Place in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland, O.R. Such places are my favorite, for their big picture windows allow me to sit and watch the community gather at their Third Place.

And for someone with no actual home, who may or may not be in the same town tomorrow- the fact that the Third Place exists wherever humanity has the ability to gather, congregate and connect- means I will always find something that grounds me. No matter where I roam, the Third Place will give me comfort, will become my familiar and will allow me to do great work within the world.

The Third Place gives me hope and reminds me of the beauty of humanity, no matter the chaos beyond.

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have a furry friend as keeper at a hostel. Oso, partial "owner" of the Whiteaker Hostel, stakes his claim in the theater room every morning while the other owner of the hostel tends to the days tasks and keeps his ship running. The Whiteaker is actually a Third Place as well, which is what drew me to return here on a whim. After an overwhelming- yet life-altering- conference of World Domination, I knew I needed to ground myself again and I needed familiar places. I had stayed here two years ago, at the start of my first Walkabout and the launch of this blog. I knew the time had come to return.

Awakening, Connection and Domination ~ Day 3

What!! It’s over already??

Even the posts on the streets are eclectic in Portland.

The third day of World Domination was a pinnacle day for me. After wonderful conversations with new friends and a little Bollywood rhythm, something shifted for me. I believe I finally pushed the trepidation and the uncertainty aside and began to look at both this conference- and quite possibly my life’s work- from the inside out. Sounds odd, but for a person whose entire passion in life is based on observation- looking from the outside in is just my natural tendency.

It’s how I think. This outsiders perspective is how I travel through the world. There are moments of connection and touching the Source- from the inside, but they are not always a conscious decision. Once I’ve traveled deep within a story, then I am looking from the inside out- but in my daily life, I just don’t work that way. This tendency just always seemed natural to me and it has always stood as a natural barrier between me and the world.

This barrier of the outsider became my protection from a world that, at times, has been rather brutal and unforgiving. And even in those moments where this world has been beautiful and awe-inspiring, I still kept that barrier of protection erect out of the fear that this beauty was not mine to enjoy or that if I reveled too much in the essence of such joy- it might be forcibly ripped from my world- before I was ready to release it. I get it, the whole Zen suffering and releasing attachment perspective, but just because I get it doesn’t mean I always embody it.

And Sunday morning, the video that replaced the absence of speaker, Neil Pasricha, just brought all this shit to the surface. The emotions just surged- to the point where I had to go outside and hug a tree to ground myself. (A skill recently showed to me by a dear friend- thanks!) And in that moment, as I sat leaning against a tree wandering if maybe I should have seen a therapist so many years ago amidst all my turmoil, a strong voice just made this one statement, so clear and true that I thought maybe the tree was whispering in my ear.

This sadness is not yours.

Well, hell, that kinda makes sense. And, I stood up, thanked the lovely tree and then went back to dominate the world. And from that point forward, the entire day was this beautiful flowing, organic event and I was open to it all. I was finally looking at something from the inside out- recognizing my discomfort and owning its source.

Trees do have an amazing energy and wisdom, if we can take a moment and listen.

And I guess that’s all I could ever ask for in a “business conference”.  Thanks so much, Chris, for creating such an environment where self-exploration and self-realization could thrive amongst a community who might just be meeting for the first time.

And here’s the last of the documentary photo images and a few notes from the day’s journal. Enjoy and until next year- go step into the Flow and revel in the beauty of where it takes you.

Let the Day begin!

My 5 things of beauty that I noticed this weekend:

A couple sitting the park at sunset

The beagle at the coffee shop with the couple enjoying a Sunday morning coffee and the newspaper

The Third Place I found on Friday morning

Amazing trees in the park

Walking through the city at night

The Mondo Beyondo ladies brought the house to their feet! And have me thinking of a tatoo for the first time in my life.

My Mondo Beyondo Words

Duality & Flow

John Unger has a story- or a thousand!

A little fresh air and snack during the day of domination.

A happy surprise at the art museum! Some of my favorite photographers from the 20th century are hanging out here- Ansel Adams, Lewis Hine, Bresson and Edward Weston. Happy.

The man behind this gathering of dominators.

Seriously, is he fueled on caffeine, flow or the energy of World Domination?

The Portland Art Museum and the headquarters for this summit.

And why wouldn't a green top hat be a fabulous means of both expression and branding? Truly brilliant, Ms. Dagmar!

And now we unwind. The after party is in full swing!

The best thing about the one hour wait for a chicken taco- meeting some amazing folks in line. Though, we scattered like starving carnivores as soon as our food came. carts.

The lovely Farnoosh and magnificent Marla work diligently to photograph their Mondo Beyondo words in the limiting light of the party.

Catching a little fresh air with Matt and another Crystal.

One seriously hard-working crew of folks. Inspiring!

And now...we dance.

I believe this drink special livened the evening up a bit!

What better way to close out World Domination than with a congo line? Till next year, peeps!

Farewell, dear Dominators!! May our paths cross again soon. And until then- go enter your flow and build something inspiring! Ciao!

ps- you can click on the images to download them for free and use them as you wish. The landscapes and city shots are for sale, if you would like to decorate your dwellings.

Someone, Somewhere Thinks Your Journey is Beautiful

As we travel through our lives, we sometimes come to a massive fork in our path. Sometimes the path splits do to forces beyond our control. Other times, we take a dramatic turn because we want to.

Because we need to.

Taking in the sunset at The Park in Cairo, Egypt. Photo by me.

We take the drastic turn because we fear where our safe, predictable path may take us. Sometimes we hit the brakes, yank the steering wheel to one side and hold on tight as the wheels tip into the air and fight to touch the ground again.

In those moments, we feel alive! Our hearts race, our vision is clear and our being is at peace- in the midst of the chaos. Deep down, that inner voice, that inner-child, knows we’ve made the right decision. We feel it, in the depths of our being, that connection to a source larger than us. We understand that this radical shift will take us closer to that source- yet we can’t articulate what we’ll find on our journey.

And if someone is looking in from the outside, they may see our radical shift as just that. Radical. Without grounds, without purpose- radical for the sake of being radical.

Our friends and loved ones may not understand our inability to justify ourselves in a way they can comprehend. They may doubt our choices. They may judge our decisions. They may question our sanity.

At this point, we are speaking a foreign language. Our loved ones simply do not have the frame of reference to understand us. We’re speaking gibberish and it scares them.

Hopefully, if we’re lucky, they will understand that this need for change, this need to evolve, this need to touch something greater than ourselves is just who we are. It’s the path we’ve chosen- the journey we must undertake. If we are lucky, our loved ones will step back and just accept that we must travel this path, with all its vines and vistas, and they will not try to understand the how or the why. They will just accept what is.

If we’re unlucky, our loved ones will judge, they will protest and they will try to crush our plans and dreams. (I’m not speaking from personal experience here- I’m speaking from observations. My family may object or question at times, but they understand and accept- eventually) What breaks my heart is to meet a person who was in the process of yanking the steering wheel off-course yet kept on the safe track because someone questioned his dreams. Someone shot down the possibilities that he was about to embody. Someone shattered the path we was about to travel because of jealousy, fear or ignorance.

And he let them.

Do we have to justify our radical shifts? Do we have good retorts when someone mocks our decisions?

I had coffee with a friend recently and mentioned that I was going carless once I left the beach and he laughed. He said, “It’s like that phase, in the 80s, when everyone thought it was cool to be gay.” I just kinda looked at him. I didn’t know what to say. We were walking away and he said it with a laugh and that’s just the way my friend is, he’s a good guy and open minded (remember, I’m in South Carolina right now). I just shook my head and rolled my eyes at him. The comment stuck in my head though, I didn’t have a good response. My reasoning is beyond his comprehension. And I don’t know if it’s worth having the conversation.

I feel as though I have two worlds sometimes. I have my “virtual world” where I connect with real people who are on the same page as me- in thoughts, actions and lifestyle- and I have my “real world” where I interact with people from all walks of life, and only a handful of them actually understand me. When I mention things like, “gas at $5 a gallon soon, can’t wait to ditch my vehicle and walk everywhere” or “yea, I’m gonna go off-grid soon because I think we’re in for a rude awakening as a society and I want to be self-sustaining” people look at me like I’m on crack.

It would actually be less shocking if I took out a crack pipe and lit up in front of them.

I get it, I’m on the East Coast and people don’t think this way. Most people in the East (most- not all) think that the lights will always be on and the gas their SUV guzzles comes from a magic fairy in the sky. (Or the don’t mind bombing the hell out of some other country to keep their car running) Rarely do they stop to consider that the whole circus might come crashing down. Or that their consumption habits might want to be curtailed if they’d like their grandchildren a chance at a livable future.

I’m hoping in the coming year or so to merge my virtual and my real lives. And I’m doing this by making radical lifestyle shifts and surrounding myself with people who don’t think I should be committed for purging most of my belongings and walking to the market.

And hopefully, you also have the core people close to you who will allow you to take a radical turn and embrace you as your journey unfolds. Hopefully you’ve found your balance and touched that inner space with the loving support of people who get you. While they may not be traveling the same path, or even understand why you are walking that way, they will embrace that this journey is your life.

And if not, find the community that will help you turn that steering wheel. They exist. Somewhere, a community exists that understands your motivations and the journey you have chosen. They understand because they made the same choices- for the same reasons.

Somewhere, someone is waiting to connect with your journey. Somewhere, that person is waiting to celebrate all that you are and all that you will become. Somewhere, there is a person who doesn’t think your radical journey is insane.

Someone, somewhere thinks your journey is beautiful.

Our Evolving Selves.

We are constantly evolving. If you aren’t evolving- you’re dead. Sorry to be so blunt, but the person who doesn’t constantly change and evolve is a person not truly living.

And then- we dance.

Stop for a moment. Hit pause. Close your eyes and what is the vision of yourself?

Are you standing at the edge of a rocky ocean, arms spread wide, head back and falling into the wind? Are you feeling that wind of change caressing your cheek, whispering into your ear the sweet nothings of something bigger than you- something larger than your daily existence? Are those winds of change enticing you to walk away from all you’ve known and step into something totally new and embryonic- something revolutionary?

Do you see yourself in a vast, wide world, standing in the midst of swirling chaos and uncertainty- totally still and immersed in the moment?  Are you standing amongst the bedlam completely at peace and grounded in this environment of wonder and adventure?

Or are you buried beneath a sea of obligations? Are your bags so deep and so burdensome that your lungs are crushed and you can’t see the light beyond your things? As you stand here, buried and bewildered, are you wondering if there’s more to life? Are you wondering how you got there? Are you wondering where to go next?

If you fall in to the last category- then you need to evolve. At some point, possibly many years ago, you stopped learning. You traded in the adventure and the uncertainty for the corner office, a 401K and comfort. Hate to break it to you, but that was the wrong decision. (Depending on your family situation, a little stability is necessary and so is the ability to provide for your loved ones) But sacrificing your life to accomplish these goals is not required-society only wants you to think concession is necessary so you’ll continue to consume and boost the economy.

If you’re currently standing in that position of burden- go learn something. Turn the microscope inward and embrace a talent, skill or idea you crushed long ago in order to pursue your comfortable existence and go master that skill. Go be that person you envisioned at 18, the fearless warrior living an exceptional life. Go be that person. Start with learning. And begin your evolution.

We must constantly evolve.

Even though I’ve been on this unconventional journey for many, many years- really, my whole life, I still feel the need to constantly evolve. To the point that my need for evolution can be viewed as a character flaw. As soon as I figure something out or accomplish something- I don’t feel the need to continue doing it! I then feel compelled to tackle the next unknown- the next adventure- the next craft I must attempt to master.

This winter has been a wonderful learning and evolutionary experience. Again, as was last winter. I’ve learned that my struggle between the stationary life and the transient life must end. I have to be one or the other- I can’t be both at the same time. But, it is possible to be transient at times and stationary at others- just not all at once. And, ironically, that involves shedding even more possessions and fine tuning my spiritual path in life.

In order for me to evolve, I must push myself to an edge that I’ve glimpsed at, but never truly embraced.  I must push myself to the edge of passion, to the edge of my craft, to the edge of my personal relationships and to the edge of my comfort zones.

When I close my eyes, I see a woman standing in a deep valley, filled with all sorts of unknowns and curiosities. This woman is planning her way through the valley, navigating her way through the mystery- and this woman is ready to dance at any moment. I also see a woman standing on the edge of a cliff above that valley. She’s standing in the wind, eyes closed, just feeling the sense of wonder that valley holds. She’s feeling the winds of change and she’s reveling in their whispers of uncertainty, passion and evolution- and this woman’s ready to leap at any moment.

To soar.  To fly.

This vision comes to me often, every day, at the most inopportune moments. And I always pause and sit with the vision. Then I write. This vision gives me peace. It doesn’t tell me what to do, it assures me that the intensity is real- that the intensity of that vision makes life worth living.

What do you see when you close your eyes? Are you ready to dance? Are you ready to leap? Are you ready to soar?

And are you willing to fall in order to evolve? Or are you too afraid to do anything at all?

Let me know your vision- I’m on Twitter- @cstreet10 !  If you’re ready to take the conversation deep- join my TinyLetter and we’ll go there!

Would You Survive if Someone Shut Off the Lights?

Yep, we’re gonna have that conversation.

How often do we devote the time to actually contemplating a world without our modern conveniences? Not the more complex elements of civilization that we take for granted, such as internet access and cell phone service- just the basics.

A storm blows across the Rockies while I play in the back country just down the road from my house.

But the fundamental modern elements that allow our civilization to function and keeps chaos at bay.
Running water, electricity, food at the grocery store and gas at the pumps- these are all elements of modern society and very recent developments in the grand scheme of man’s existence on earth.

Living in a small town in the Rockies can be a humbling experience.  As I’ve mentioned, the internet is a crap-shoot, we have no gas station and there is one store where I can buy groceries. Now, the next town is only 6 miles away and has all those “modern conveniences” but in a blizzard, like today, I really don’t feel like trekking down the road and running the gauntlet with all the tourists leaving Breckenridge.

Hearing the wind howling, literally howling, down from the hills and bouncing off the walls of my cabin is humbling.  Seeing the gas stove kick on when a chill hits the cabin is a blessing.  When the lights go out, the whole town goes totally black.  And you’re not quite sure when you’ll be bathed in electric light again.

Being this close to the raw force of nature and being aware of the actual resources it takes to live in a place like this makes me pause and contemplate the actual core of our civilization and will it last when one or more of the staples holding it together crumbles?

This town will survive and actually, it will probably thrive.  People already live “off the grid” to a degree and there are enough local people producing products to live off of, if necessary.

But this line of thought makes me ponder the fact that I’m unprepared if something were to happen.  If the oil supply were disrupted, if the dollar totally tanks or if the grid just collapsed- due to weather or a man-made interference- I am completely unprepared.

Now, I’m fully aware that this is not a conversation many people engage in- many are too afraid to even consider the possibility or just have blind faith that the system will always exist and function for them. Though I am a rather happy person most of the time, I am a pessimist when it comes to the intentions of our political leaders, their intelligence to do what’s best for the country and I am totally pessimistic when it comes to the actual structures that we, as a civilization, depend on for our survival.

I believe we should depend on ourselves for that survival, particularly in today’s world.  If the proverbial ‘shit hit the fan’ right now, I would be totally unprepared, but I’d at least be in a town where I could manage and I think between my roommate (who idolizes pure mountain man survival) and I, we’d survive.  But I am truly behind the times if the lights went out and we were tossed into the dark ages.

I have at least planned an plotted for the possibility and believe the next year will spent preparing for an off-grid lifestyle.  And even if the lights stay on and the world stays a happy place, I’ll be living a truly simple life, and a rather cheap one at that.

When was the last time you contemplated the possibility of rolling the clock back 200 years?  Does the thought put the fear of God into you and just cause you to shut the line of though off instantly?  Or does your imagination run wild with the possibilities of living off the land, returning to nature and living a “simple” life?

Would you survive or thrive?