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if this isn't a travel blog, what is it?

I have temporarily left my work as a teacher, sold most of my belongings, and set about on a quest. I am on a journey, for the next year, to observe and learn how others are constructing for themselves other ways of being.

Something you should know from the start: this is not a travel blog.

I am not going to talk about attractions I’ve seen and give travel tips. I am not going to post pictures of me eating gelato and do listicles about the 5 cheapest ways to book a ticket to Peru. I am unlikely to list the trails I’ve hiked and directions on how to get there.

I am traveling and frolicking about in mountains, yes. I did leave teaching for a year and sold most of my belongings. I am often trading work in exchange for room and board in rad permaculture farms and other sweet projects. Cool, unusual things happen around me every day, and I am lucky as shit.

But we are going to zoom out. Way out.

With this platform, my intention is to contribute to the movement of folks out there working to piece together a creative vision for our shared and individual futures. More specifically on my part, I am interested in re-imagining the individual life paths we each carve out for ourselves, and pushing for a kind of norm-shattering, liberatory creativity in the design of these paths.

I hope to add fuel to our collectively crippled, dying flame of creativity and imagination when it comes to this ideation of near and far time horizons.

Yes, I said a crippled, dying flame! A dramatic metaphor I am sticking to. For some decades, we have been looking down the barrel of a black void succinctly entitled by some, "crisis of imagination." As we look to a future of ecological collapse, ever increasing economic inequality, deeply woven systems of injustice, and widening spiritual deserts, we continue to put one foot in front of other, perfectly in step with the well-worn path before us, marching complacently into the void. We walk, sometimes blindly, sometimes begrudgingly, onto the rotating hamster wheel of hypernormalisation.

We don’t have the imaginative muscles to clear a new path forward, away from the disasters ahead. Our tired, uncreative spirits, worn down by the pressures of social conformity, systemic oppression, and fun-house mirrors that reflect sure paths to “happiness”, forget that new paths are possible.

I have temporarily left my work as a teacher, sold most of my belongings, and set about on a quest. I am on a journey, for the next year, to observe and learn how others are constructing for themselves other ways of being.

Rutger Bregman in Utopia for Realists writes, “But the real crisis of our times, of my generation, is not that we don’t have it good, or even that we might be worse off later on. No, the real crisis is that we can’t come up with anything better” (27).

He argues that “the great milestones of civilization always have the whiff of utopia about them at first. According to sociologist Albert Hirschman, utopias are initially attacked on three grounds: futility (it’s not possible), danger (the risks are too great), and perversity (it will degenerate into dystopia).

But Hirschman also wrote that almost as soon as a utopia becomes a reality, it often comes to be seen as utterly commonplace. Not so very long ago, democracy still seemed a glorious utopia. Many a great mind... warned that democracy was futile (the masses were too foolish to handle it), dangerous (majority rule would be akin to playing with fire), and perverse (the “general interest” would soon be corrupted by the interests of some crafty general or other)” (Bregman, 28).

So, you could argue that all of those dangers are true about democracy to this day. You could also argue that the pursuit of democracy (which we clearly have still not achieved) has given us special freedoms previously unavailable under dynasties, feudal societies, monarchies, and the like. Crazy, creative visions do not manifest in perfection; we are human. But they can manifest in something better than what we had before.

It is through this lens of creative envisionment that I embark on my explorations of other ways. Again, to be more specific, I am starting this journey by focusing on the creative designs individuals (not systems) have embodied or envisioned for themselves. In future posts, I will talk about some reasons why I see a desperate need for new ways of thinking about lifestyle, values, and ambition. For now, I will share some questions I am pursuing on my journey.

Some essential questions on my journey:

  • How do people build lives outside of traditional social paradigms and deeply in line with their values?

  • In what ways do people integrate nature, community, and spirituality into their customized lifestyles?

  • In what ways do these individual lifestyle choices contribute to the evolution of larger systems?

  • How do these other ways of being impact people’s mental health, spiritual health, and physical health?

My goal, through this blog/vlog project, is to share some of my observations around these questions through written and video content. Will you join me on this journey?


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