“The free exploring mind of the individual is the most valuable thing in the world.”
I’ve heard that sometimes, the beauty of a blog can be the scrambled thoughts and feelings that form when we write with no real direction in our minds. So this blog post is exactly that; snippets from three months of my trip to southern Chile and Argentina.
This trip became a reality after one of many late night conversations with a friend while I was working remotely in a city that wasn’t Portland, OR (my home). They always came at the perfect time, and involved topics that people in their mid 20’s seem to discuss; he was loving his work, and I was having trouble finding direction within mine. However, I think my struggle was more than just the routine of everyday life in a job I didn’t love. I had spent weeks and months, maybe even a year coming to the realization that I hadn't ever REALLY traveled. I hadn't tested myself in a place foreign to my consciousness. I hadn’t ever been truly uncomfortable with my surroundings, or tested my abilities in those situations.
With each passing day, the intentions for the trip became clearer. I wanted to understand and get to know the best version of myself, and in my mind, that version is found in the woods, alone with my thoughts.
"And this I believe; that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for; the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against; any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserver the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”
My situation before Patagonia is hard to describe. It was a clusterfuck of thoughts, feelings and emotions that were difficult to sort through. I had a job that allowed me vacation time, paid well, and provided me with a comfortable life. Sounds great, right? Well I was miserable and unfulfilled. It’s always bothered me, this idea that someone, or some god, or some mythical creature riding a unicorn with a trident in hand created a master plan for our lives. I’ve never accepted this as a reality, and I don’t think I ever will. Writing this now I can only imagine how many people feel just as unfulfilled as I did. But there comes a time, at some point, that we have to take back our lives and own up to our feelings. What it came down to for me, was looking inward at my heart, and outwards to friends and family to validate the feelings I was having. It’s both surprising and comforting to realize the amount of people that have felt similarly, and have gone on their own vision quests to find direction in life. When you’re honest with yourself and the people around you, life becomes more clear.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
The collection of quotes referenced in this post came from Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” I, along with three others read it during our travels, and I wanted to end with this;
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one…Humans are caught - in their loves, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil…there is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?”