“You seem to have it all under control”, I often hear. Or the classic: “You’re doing it right!”. Though is nice to hear such reinforcement from friends (especially when you are doubting yourself. And doubts occur…), the truth is: I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. And I sure as hell don’t know if there ever is a right way of doing “it”. You see, I came to the conclusion that being totally free means giving up control, fully.
People have the tendency to seek control of everything. That’s why we plan a certain study, job, envision our ideal partner. If we follow the path we planned for ourselves, it makes it seem like everything is going according to plan – we are steering the way, influence how and where we’re going, right? We cannot bear the feeling of not knowing. You know what not knowing translates to? Fear.
Traveling as a long term backpacker however, you learn what lays on the other side of fear. It teaches me an important pillar of true freedom, if not the most crucial one. Yes, it is about overcoming fear. But more concretely, it is about learning not to trap yourself with laying a specific path in front of you. Having no particular path at all. This means that there is not merely one way, and this is where your life is deterministically headed. There are countless options out there and every one of them unfolds, if you open yourself up completely and let yourself go with the flow of the moment. Being okay with not knowing where you’ll be next month, next week or even in an hour. Is that scary to you? It sure was to me, when I started this, I can admit.
Being completely free means giving up control, planning, steering. Listening to something, call it intuition. That being said, of course ceasing the opportunity as it presents itself to you is important. Taking things in your own hands when you see something that pulls you towards it. Always follow that inner compass, this intrinsic drive, that is pulling you towards something you desire. But keep yourself open to see if that desire you have can apply to other things too.
While this might be good advice for travellers, I am still struggling wether or not this is applicable to the “real” world. After all these years, I still call it real world. How odd… Here, in regards to the social paradigms of our world, planning your steps and the necessity of being in control, might have an evolutionary advantage over those who wander from one place to the other with no specific goals in their heads. Here, in the “real world”, we are deprived the commodity of exploring what we might want. Intuition is a luxury we can’t afford.
The way I see it, striving for control over everything is so wonderfully shortsighted and pointless, it’s almost tragic. Not only will the weight of desperation hit you with the same brute force you built your expectations up in the first place, if you fail. You are also victim of the wrong belief, that you are actively shaping your environment – and not the other way around. I don’t want to get into a discussion of free will here. This is for another time. But, basically, this is where we thing we act, when in fact, we actually just react. Almost poetic.