Archive for the 'Purpose' Category

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How to Shine Your Light to Change the Planet

“What will I be remembered for?”

You may have heard it before, but have you ever posed this question to yourself? When was the last time you sat down to create something you really felt strongly about?

A couple weeks ago, I awoke to a quiet and sunny morning. I sat in the silence, and I wondered. I wondered what, of that which I’ve created, will live beyond me. I wondered what my lasting impact would be on the Earth.

As I sat there contemplating this, I realized that much of what anyone does will be forgotten in time. The meals they made, the possessions they owned, the places they lived in. None of these things would be relevant in even a hundred years time. I continued contemplating, and I asked myself, “What does the world need, right now? Where does it stand, and how can I help it?”

Have you ever asked yourself such questions?

In contemplating what the world needs, I thought about the different theories regarding climate change, impending prophecies, and the rapidly changing times that we are now all living through.

I realized that my actions already showed part of my answer to that question. I believe people need to continually push themselves into new experiences and stretch their boundaries, travel being one of the best examples of this.

I soon came to the conclusion that there was no way to be sure of what my final impact might be on a larger scale. No way at all, really. And I realized that this fact is one of the mysterious aspects to being a creator: you never know precisely what you’ll be remembered for. Do you think Benjamin Franklin would have chosen to be remembered primarily for his kite-flying lightning experiment? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly he had far more influential enterprises in his life. But of those other pursuits, none had the iconic imagery that the key on the kite provides us, so that is what he is most remembered for.

How are you serving your era?

If I had to say right now, I’d guess that perhaps three bits of my work will be remembered: a piece of travel poetry, a destination-focused article, and one or two of photographs in the Byteful Gallery. And if they are, it’ll most likely be because they’ll have documented a moment in the early twenty-first century that is interesting or important to future historians. Then again, I could also be dead wrong.

But how’s that for a thought? Every time you take a photo and put it on the web, it has the potential to be part of a historical archive, perhaps well into the twenty-second century. Since, year after year, storage space continues to increase in dramatic leaps and bounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire web as it exists today (in 2011) will be someday preserved on a crystal that you could hold in the palm of your hand. (And hopefully by then we’ll have decent 3D interfaces so we can more efficiently sift through these vast archives of history.) In fact, it’s pretty likely that something you do today will be accessible for generations to come.

The Currency of Expertise

The point is, you never know what bits of your work are going to be relevant in the future until the future arrives. But even if something you’ve made is preserved… will it be remembered? Will it be notable? Will you have had a true impact? In order to do that, you have to create something of value in the first place.

Are you?

In my experience, the greatest value we ever create is when we work towards something we actually care about. You can tell when someone’s heart and soul has gone into their work, can’t you? I know I can. Think about the affect that kind of work can have on people. Don’t you want to have the same affect? Sure, the first time you try to do something, it will probably suck, but it’s the trying that makes you better. The number of mistakes made is all that separates a classical pianist from someone who stopped after learning a few chords. The price you pay for expertise is experience. Or, put another way, Experience is the currency of expertise.

The Highest Expression of Who You Are

When was the last time you sat down to create something you really felt strongly about? If it’s been more than 3 months, then what are you waiting for?

Too often, when I talk to people, they tell me how busy their lives are and that they see themselves not having the time to create anything. Perhaps they’re exhausted after a long day at their job, or perhaps they already have too many other commitments. But what if they’d made an even higher commitment than a job contract? What if they committed to become the highest expression of who they could be? How do you think their life might change when they whole-heartedly followed that commitment?

Apply it to yourself. What if you made a commitment to be the highest expression of your true self, and followed it wholeheartedly? How would your life change?

Now, I completely understand that when you’re starting out, things can be on a bumpy road for a while. But what if you’re in your 30s or 40s (or beyond) and you still haven’t made anything you’re proud of? How do you feel about that?

Let’s get to the Nutshell

Let’s get to the nut of the nut. At what point is going to a job, cranking the crank, coming home, watching TV, and hitting “repeat”, not enough?

If you need a reason to do more than the 4 things I listed above, consider this: Your fellow humans need you. Only you are able to create what only you are able to create. You have a unique light, and no one is going to shine it for you. You’ve probably heard this before, but did you really internalize it? Remember, everyone has unique gifts, abilities, and propensities that they were born with. And they exist of a reason.

Even if you’re not entirely sure what your unique gifts are yet, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. If you keep trying different things, you will discover one of your gifts. In my case, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I was in college, but somewhere along the way, I realized my love for travel, writing, and design, among other things. Some take longer than others to discover their passions, but all can (and do) in time.

And when you use these gifts, you shine your light. And this is very powerful.

But this can only come out of making a conscious choice. That can be a daily choice of deciding to create just one thing or to do “your thing”, whatever it may be, on a regular basis. Whether it be through photography, dance, song, poetry, prose, drawing, or anything — express yourself. Perhaps 10 minutes a day, or even one hour a week. Whatever works best for you. Just remember, you won’t feel fully alive until you do.

So, what will You be remembered for?

When was the last time you asked yourself, “What will I be remembered for?”

If you skip the opportunity to create your life, you slip into the habit of simply watching life go by. And, what’s worse, you deprive us of your voice and do the entire world a huge disservice.

Yet if you have the courage to create from the deepest places in your heart (and have the courage to share) the world will respond to it like a birdsong on the wind. And in time, it will enchant us and make the world seem that much more alive. Why?

Because you gave yourself fully to it.

In that moment, you will learn more about yourself and feel more connected to the planet than you ever have before.

And there are few things more beautiful than that.

How to write Powerful Travel Articles that Matter

As a creative individual, what’s your mission?

Does the concept of Oneness relate to travel?

And how important is the concept of Oneness when travelling?

Today I’m going to discuss some of the answers to those questions. Consider this as a thought-provoking reminder: while you may not consider yourself a creative person, you most certainly are. Even if you never write, photograph, or make a single coherent note, your friendships are your creation. So today we’re going to talk a bit about purpose, growth, oneness, and how they relate to your role as a creative being. Yes, you’re a creative being. Sorry, but its unavoidable; you can’t help it. :)

An Unexpected Outcome

The Element of Surprise is often overlooked as a key element in creation, whether it be visual, audible, or the written word; so this certainly applies to travel writing. For instance, travel writers must constantly put their readers into a state of wonder and surprise. Without it, the writing feels stale and predictable. Even if you never write, a good example of creativity in a social setting is humor; and as any comic will admit, surprise plays a key role in humor, as well.

Have you ever sat down and asked yourself, “What exactly is humor anyway?” If you think about it, humor can only arise out of an unexpected outcome. It can only arise if there is some flavor of surprise. Good writing is no different.

Our Shared Mission on this Blue-Green Planet

As a travel writer, it’s my mission to provide you with enlightening new perspectives of this beautiful blue-green planet we call home. It really is a magical place, and too often we forget that as we sit in our man-made above-ground caves as beauty lurks outside. Life is so much more than our routines. It’s about discovery. It’s about growth. It’s about inspiration.

And as a travel writer, I deeply feel that it’s my purpose to inspire you with these new perspectives, and (if I’ve really done a good job) make you think differently about the world around you. Perhaps through what I share, you’ll realize more and more that the Earth isn’t the dangerous, unforgiving place that some sources would have you believe. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it’s without danger. Any environment that fosters growth will have dangerous elements, but danger is certainly not the defining characteristic of Earth. In my experience, the defining characteristic is Growth: a natural unfolding of progress.

You’re lucky, because people who live in a growth-inducing (catalyzing) environment such as Earth’s, will mature over time. Life paths that are dangerous and self-destructive are not a sign of a mature, conscious person; but mature, self-aware life sees itself as a fragment of a larger whole and doesn’t seek to destroy its neighbors because it realizes a universal truth: by hurting others, it hurts itself.

Our mission is to always remember and act on this truth.

It Takes 10,000 Hours

A popular idea floating around right now is that it takes 10,000 hours to become a professional at a skill, so it’s no surprise to me that after writing over a hundred articles, I am only now finally beginning to feel good about how I balance length, depth, and personality in my writing. And I’m excited that I can see this improvement quite obviously when comparing some of my articles from years passed. It’s truly a great honor to be able to share my experiences with you, and I feel that I’m just beginning to hit my stride in my writing capability.

I’ve realized that as I mature as a creator, I become better and better at discerning the quality of the creations around me, and what I see in the writing sphere is a good example.

What’s the deal with travel sites “churning” out content?

These days, I’m surprised sometimes at how some sites seem to write rather passionless articles again and again. I find myself asking certain questions: Does the web really need another story about how to best spend your money? Does the blogosphere (if that’s actually a thing) need another guide on how to use your time most effectively? Does the computer-internet really need another post talking about how “blogging saved my life”?

Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t.

Maybe this whole web would be better served if writers were painfully honest and wrote about what they actually cared about instead of what they felt would generate page views (or worse, what they were being paid to write so someone else could generate page views).

At what point do people begin to stop recycling ideas and start actually doing their life’s work?

More Honesty = More Value

So here’s the crux of the matter: the more honest you, as a creator, are about your own feelings, the more valuable what you create is. Say it out loud if you didn’t the first time: The more honest you are, the more valuable what you create is. You need to say that out loud because your more likely to actually remember this timeless piece of information.

No matter what kind of content you create, it’s very important to be really, really aware that you’re creating for a real person, who may have arrived at what you’ve created from a variety of places. They may be seeking inspiration, comfort, or any one of a million things.

If you’re a travel writer, they may want a specific question answered, they may want to hear a story, or they may want to just look at some of the beauty you captured on your last trip to Galapagos. But no matter what they seek, the more honest you’re able to be with yourself when you create it, the more they’ll be able to identify with what you’ve created. And the reason for this relates to the concept of Oneness I mentioned earlier.

You see, when you’re really, really aware of how a person enjoys your work, you can put yourself in their shoes. When you can do this, you can anticipate their needs. When you can anticipate their needs, you can make smart choices about how to frame what you’re trying to say. I’m not saying you should only write what you think you’re audience is expecting. That would actually be the stupidest thing you could do, because if you depend on your audience for guidance, the chances of you ending up in a place that resonates with your heart’s path is close to nil. So find the message that resonates with your heart. Then, stay true to your message, but don’t forget who’s hearing it.

How Travel Writing Encourages Oneness

As I see it, one of the highest goals a travel writer can have is to inspire and grow the awareness of Oneness between people, and other kinds of creativity are no different. In the case of travel writing, when you honestly relate your experiences of another culture, not only do you highlight some of the fascinating qualities that are unique to the culture.

But more importantly, if you’re honest with yourself, you invariably come to the conclusion that, once you look under the surface-level appearance, the similarities between peoples and cultures far outweighs the differences. And sharing these types of stories affects us on a deep level, because we already know in the unspoken places of our hearts, that we are all One People, and always have been.

An excellent expression of this is in the song “Braided Hair” by 1 Giant Leap:

“Because We are One, and We Should Know We are One”

In short, by expressing yourself honestly, you help the entire planet. The practice of telling stories and relating your experiences of other cultures is just one example. Through honest communication, we realize more and more how we are so incredibly and intimately connected as a people on this planet, and it serves as a wake-up call for us all. The more harmony and cooperation we can create between the differing cultures of the Earth, the more loving and enjoyable this planet will become; and perhaps most importantly, the sooner this planet will become a congruent, harmonious society that’s poised for exploration beyond our own little star.

I look forward to that day… don’t you?
Let’s make it come faster.
We can, when we decide.

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