To Be Seduced by Life…

It may sound weird, but I believe certain influences – people, books, ideas – come into our lives exactly when we need them. These influences can change us in ways we never imagined.

My first experience with this was when I read “The Power of Now” in the summer of 2013. That book helped lift me up from a sea of misery and unconsciousness. My next experience was barely six months later when I came across “The Alabaster Girl” by Zan Perrion. It’s this experience that I want to talk about here.

A Very Important Year

My senior year of college was a very interesting one for me. When I returned home from studying in Madrid three months earlier, I was consumed by wanderlust. But the reality of my last year as a student quickly pushed thoughts of travel and adventure to the back of my mind. Being a senior meant it was time convert those years of academic stress into a high-paying job, and most of my friends and peers seemed dedicated to that cause. Days into the first semester I was already hearing talk of job applications and potential interviews. The pressure was on.

That pressure did little to motivate me, though. Despite the urgent and practical nature of getting a good job, I felt absolutely zero passion for that goal. Actually, I felt the opposite of passion. Getting a typical job sounded like a straight bore.

At the time, I was convinced that my lack of enthusiasm for finding a job was just a sign of laziness, and there might have been some truth to that. The thought of sitting in an office and trying to focus for eight hours a day gave me the chills. However, my core problem was one of passion. Looking at all the jobs I could apply to, there wasn’t a single one that inspired the slightest bit of excitement in me. And in the back of my mind, I could feel the desire to see the world nagging at me.

The Spark that Lit the Fire

I read “The Alabaster Girl” about halfway through my senior year. Ironically, my motivations for reading it were not at all related to finding passion in my life. The author, Zan Perrion, was a well-known dating coach, and all I was expecting were some tips on how to meet women. What I found was something entirely different.

It’s hard to say what the book’s main theme is. It centers around the author’s profound love for women and seduction, but themes of beauty, passion, and the spirit of adventure are interwoven throughout. I guess you could describe it as a wise man’s musings on what it means to live a truly magical life. Women just happen to be the primary source of magic for the author.

While I did resonate with Perrion’s talk of romance and seduction, it was his views on beauty that really struck a chord with me. “Beauty needs a witness,” he repeats throughout the book, and in describing his worldview he paints a picture of a man entirely in love with life and all the beauty it has to offer.

I had never given beauty a second thought before reading that book. I could recognize it when I saw it (at least I thought so) but it wasn’t something I ever sought out. Maybe it was his flowery style of writing or just the conviction behind his words, but as I read I felt something awakening inside of me. It was what I felt during my time in Madrid, but hadn’t been able to identify. It was the desire for a life filled with beauty, passion, and adventure. The desire to be utterly seduced by life.

From there, I knew that going the typical job route was no longer an option. I wanted something out of life that a 9-5 could never give me, and I would do whatever it took to find it. Why not find a way to move back to Spain? Yeah, that seemed like a good enough plan.

Three years have passed since that decision, and I’m living in Spain like I wanted to. But I’d be lying if I said the desire for a life filled with beauty and passion was my prime motivator for the past couple of years. Somewhere along the way, that romantic vision got pushed to the back of my mind. I started, once again, to view life as a race to be won instead of a journey to be enjoyed. Achievement and success became my primary focuses. All this time abroad, surrounded by so much beauty, and I’ failed to truly appreciate it.

Adjusting My Sails

I want to reconnect with my desire to be seduced by life and all the beauty it has to offer.

How do I do this? Well, just like I mentioned in my post on true north principles, the most important thing I can do is commit to the vision that drove me abroad in the first place. That means slowing down and looking deep within, not letting my surface level desires for achievement and success distract me from my core desire for a life filled with beauty and passion.

I also want to start using this blog as a place to develop and share my vision. It’s time for “An Appetite for Beauty” to live up to its name.

 

 

Vlog: 24 Hours in Lagos, Portugal

Last weekend I decided to take a trip to Lagos, a small city on the southern coast of Portugal. It was a four-hour bus ride from Sevilla and I only stayed one night because of my tight budget, but it was 24 hours well spent.

If you love beautiful views of the coast, cheap food, and a lively bar scene (filled with plenty of English-speakers), I definitely recommend taking a trip out to Lagos. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend some more time there in the near future.

 

Quote of the Week #17

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Photo taken in Hondarribia, Spain.


Lately, I’ve been asking myself why I enjoy traveling so much.

The surface level answers that come to mind are all related to the myriad of different sights, cultures, and people that I come into contact with during my travels. But I think the true answer goes even deeper than that.

Thinking back to my semester studying abroad in Madrid – the first time I had ever been out of the country – what stands out to me most is not any of the things I listed above. To be honest, I took in so many new experiences during those four months that it’s just a blur at this point. A beautiful blur, but a blur nonetheless.

Yet I can see clearly all of the changes that took place inside me during those four months.

I may have looked the same on the outside when I came back home, but I was definitely not the same person as when I left.  I saw myself and the world around me a little bit differently. Things that mattered to me before no longer seemed as important. I felt a little less certain about everything  I knew, yet more confident in my abilities to handle anything unexpected. A similar internal shift occurred during my nine months teaching in Northern Spain last year.

It’s these internal changes that I’m really seeking out, and travel seems to provide the perfect environment for them to take place.

 

 

The Start of My Vlogging Adventures

Yesterday I decided to take a leap into the unknown and shoot my first video blog. Talking into a camera (phone) felt pretty awkward at first, and I said “uh” and “umm” way too much, but I’m really happy I did it.

While I love to write, I also really love to talk, so my Youtube channel MylesAbroad will be a kind of a supplement to the content I post on here. I also think it will be a great way for people to put a face to my writing.

In it, I’ll talk about my experiences traveling, books I’ve read, different self-development topics I’m focusing on, and anything else that comes to mind.  My plan is to put up at least one video every week.

Here’s my first video. Hope you enjoy!

Quote of the Week #1

(Background picture taken in San Sebastian, Spain)
(Background picture taken in San Sebastian, Spain)

As cliché as it may be, I absolutely love this quote. Life is short so why spend it doing things you hate, or even feel lukewarm towards?

Of course, sometimes the trickiest part is figuring out what your bliss really is…

Stillness

To the mind that is still,the whole universe surrenders.

I’ve always loved the analogy of the mind being like an ocean. The surface – our everyday stream of consciousness – is often rocky and unpredictable. Our thoughts, emotions, and desires are continuously buffeted along by strong winds. These winds are the external forces in our lives – things like our jobs, our family situations, social conditioning.

But what lies beneath the surface? Is there a deeper level to our minds, an equivalent to the dark and mysterious depths of the ocean? This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time trying to answer when it comes to my own mind. And what I’ve found, in those rare moments when I’ve been able to calm the mental storm in my head, is that there is an incredible stillness to be found beneath the surface.

At first that stillness was detectable only in my most peaceful moments. I recall my almost nightly drives to Seal Beach during the summer of 2013, my first conscious attempts to escape all of the noise in my head. I would walk out to the edge of the pier and just stare at the ocean for an hour or so, letting the sounds of the waves and the surrounding darkness calm me.

After a while I would feel a shift inside. It was like all of my worries and superficial desires would just float away. My mind was finally just…still. It was in those moments that my desire for a life filled with adventure and beauty started to come to the surface.

For the first time in my life I could see that I wanted so much more for my life than the textbook version of success I had been chasing. It was clear that  typical things like finding a nice job, chasing after money, and searching for comfort and security just weren’t for me. It was as if the call of my heart was finally louder than the chatter in my brain.

To this day the contents of my brain are just as scattered as they were three years ago. When I wake up in the morning, seeking out the beauty in my life is the last thing on my mind. When someone is rude to me or I make a stupid mistake at work, I don’t think about adventure and romance, I just get pissed off. I wrestle with a myriad of fears, anxieties, and petty emotions every single day.

Yet the knowledge of what I’ve felt in those moments of stillness has stayed with me. I know that the tumultuousness of my thoughts and emotions only represents the very surface of who I am and what I want. I know that deep inside me, at the very core of my soul, exists a vision for my life that is so much greater than my everyday concerns and superficial desires.

Knowing all of this, when I feel myself getting caught up in life’s frenzied current, all I can do is pause and get in touch with that stillness. It’s in that state that I’m able to see clearly what I want out of life. It’s in the stillness that I derive my energy. And it’s in the stillness that I’m fully consumed by an appetite for beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

A Choice

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In the past three years I’ve “experimented” with quite a few different ways of looking at the world. I’ve been angry at everything, caught up in romance, completely focused on inner peace, and most recently, obsessed with self-improvement. While I would never advise anyone else to be so inconsistent with their state of mind, my own inconsistency has helped me get to the core of what I really desire: a life filled with beauty, romance, passion, and adventure. I want to be inspired, and nothing inspires quite like beauty.

What is beauty? Who defines it? Is it purely aesthetic, or something deeper? Is it an objective quality or is it, like the old expression tells us, merely found in the eye of the beholder? Can you actively pursue it, or can you only open yourself up to experience it?

I don’t have an answer to these questions and that’s okay with me. In a way, the mystery itself is beautiful. All I know is that I’ve seen glimpses of this mystical quality – most of them stumbled upon by accident – in the people, places, and things I’ve encountered in my life. Those glimpses have shown me that there is something more to life than the mundane, everyday concerns that normally fill my mind. There are things in this world that make my heart sing and my imagination run wild. And those things are what I want to spend my life seeking out.

How does one do this? To be honest I’m still figuring that out. Sometimes I look at the world around me and beauty is the last thing I see. But as Confucius once said, “everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Maybe trying to find the beauty in everything is overly romantic, a futile attempt to view the world with rose-colored glasses. But of course, life is really just a game of perception. We can choose to see the good or the bad in anything.

So I ask myself, why settle for the good when I can choose to see the beautiful?