Tag Archives: learning

My Experiment in Community

When I started the latest incarnation of my blog, I gave careful thought to what I was doing (The Blog) and why (Why am I blogging?).   After 6 months of active publishing, I think it’s time to take stock of how I’m doing.  Here is my self-assessment.

Of the 4 objectives I set at the beginning, two were inward facing and two outward facing:

1)    To Create — This blog will be a creative outlet, an opportunity for me to bring into being something imaginative, entertaining, and occasionally, hopefully, inspired.

Publishing the blog has been stimulating and I have enjoyed the creative process.  I’m producing something that I’m proud of.  Some posts that I’ve particularly enjoyed writing from a creative perspective are The S&M Motel, Elisabeth, and Flamenco).  I hope that you’re enjoying reading and commenting on the blog.  With the goal of making it better, I welcome your feedback on my writing or any other topic.  Your suggestions are genuinely and greatly appreciated.

2)    To ReflectThis blog will encourage self-reflection, an indispensable activity on my journey of self-realization (the pursuit of self-knowledge). The blog will also be a journal of sorts, a record of memorable experiences, learnings, and other musings.

Writing encourages me to reflect on my experiences and to organize my thoughts.  I have definitely written about some topics that I was trying to process (e.g. Coming to terms with an alternative lifestyle, My Struggle with Stuff, Dachau, No Good Deed Goes UnpunishedParting is Such Sweet Sorrow), or where I wanted crystalize my thinking (e.g. Why Dream Big?, Why Live Boldy?, The Decline of the American Empire, Is Life Getting Too Complicated?).  As an added benefit, the blog also documents many of my memorable experiences in words and in pictures, the way a scrap book or photo album might.

3)    To Create Intimacy —  By sharing of myself, this blog will enhance my existing relationships and possibly develop new ones.

The blog has allowed me to stay in better contact with some family and friends while we travel.  I have also shared it with some new friends that we’ve met on the road, some of whom are now following too.  I think that I was a bit naïve (or overly optimistic) when I began about the complexities of online communication and relationships.  Despite the fact that the feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive, not everyone has responded favourably.  Not everyone cares or wants to be reminded about our gallivanting around the world.  People have busy lives and this blog competes for their limited time.  And, surprise surprise, not everyone agrees with what I have to say.  Although I never write with the intention to offend, I sometimes write about personal topics that are not often discussed, and I can occasionally be controversial.  Sometimes I don’t communicate clearly or people have a different interpretation.  Sometimes I suspect they just flat-out disagree with what I have to say.  I hope that they will find sufficient value to continue participating.

When I share my thoughts or beliefs or something that I’ve learned, I try to write them in a way that that is meaningful and true for me.  I don’t think that I have all the answers, and I try to avoid preaching to others.

Don’t tell people how to live their lives.  Just tell them stories, and they’ll figure out how the stories apply to them.  – Randy Pausch

I had hoped to receive more comments on the blog and to generate more dialogue, but I’ve learned that discussion of any in-depth or serious topics online is challenging.  Still, I greatly appreciate it when I do receive comments or feedback from others, and I’m willing to risk discussing some more weighty topics in the comments if you are.

4)    To ContributeI want this blog to be of value to others — one of my contributions to the world.  I’m optimistic that someone will learn, grow, or be inspired.    That someone will dream bigger or live more boldly that they otherwise would have.

I write this blog with others in mind.  I try to share stories that they’ll find interesting or stimulating in some way.  Ultimately this comes down to personal preference, so I try to write things that I would enjoy reading, and I get occasional guidance (usually on things that I shouldn’t write) from my wife Diane.  I hope that this blog helps to make the world a better place.  OK, that sounds like an overly lofty goal, but the sentiment is correct.  Although I have no direct evidence that it has occurred, I hope that I am helping to inspire others to achieve their dreams.  If you want to share a story about how this blog has touched or inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear it.

In addition to my 4 stated intentions, each of which has implied benefits, I have also benefited from increased learning.  To write about a topic I need to understand it first.  Although I’m not a journalist, I want to write with integrity, so I do my best to make sure I know what I’m talking about, and I try to check my facts.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot more about my subjects than I would have otherwise.

I’d like to thank-you for making May the most-read month ever for this blog.  There were over 1700 views of DreamBigLiveBoldly.com in May.  I must admit that I was secretly hoping that the blog would grow into a larger community.  It’s one way to get feedback that people enjoy my work.  If you know anyone that you think might enjoy the blog, would you please let them know about it.

How do you think I’m doing against my stated intentions?  What are your suggestions on how to make the blog better?  (Live Boldly. I can take it.)

Things we’ve learned while traveling

We’ve learned a lot while traveling. We have seen and experienced so much that it’s hard to process everything, but here are some of the things that we think that we will stick with us….

  • How to sleep in our clothes.
  • How to ride an elephant.
  • How to make Tibetan and Thai food.
  • Things are never quite what we expect, but are always interesting in their own way and we are frequently surprised.
  • Potato chips come in many weird flavours in other parts of the world, for example seaweed, tomato sauce, buttered corn, masala, ham and cheese.
  • There is virtually no limit to the number of times one’s sandals can be repaired.
  • A family of five and their dog can ride on a single motor scooter.
  • Being a foreigner is sometimes an advantage, but never in the pocketbook.
  • You can never have too much toilet paper or mosquito repellant.
  • We can live much more simply than we do. We have way too much stuff.
  • We are extremely fortunate to have been born and to live in Canada.
  • When we work together, we’re a very strong team.
  • Our comfort zone expands quickly to adapt to our environment.
  • We can say ‘no’ to people in desperate need, but we often feel guilty afterwards.
  • Domestic animals have a really poor life in the third world.
  • In the third world, a soft mattress is hard to find.
  • It’s significantly more expensive to travel in Africa than in India. South East Asia costs a bit more than India.
  • Traveling in Africa was the most difficult, followed by India and Egypt which are about the same in difficulty. By comparison, it is relatively easy to travel in Jordan, Nepal, and South East Asia.
  • Eat where and what the locals eat. Street food is much cheaper and often better.
  • Traveling is better than working.
  • Everyone speaks more languages than Canadians do.
  • Local transportation is always cheaper if you walk away from the bus or train station or the tourist attraction first.
  • Not all 3-wheelers are created equal. There are many varieties and configurations in Asia. The tuk-tuks in Thailand, with front shocks and rear springs, are deluxe compared to those in India.
  • Traveling light is the only way to go. Sometimes even a small pack seems like too much.
  • Taking with a small notebook computer was a great idea.
  • Television is a brain sucking device. When we have it, we watch it. When we don’t have it, we don’t miss it. Perhaps we’re addicted, because despite this, we’re nowhere near ready to give it up.
  • White people want to be darker and dark people want to be whiter.
  • Sunscreen is expensive everywhere because only white people and wealthy Asians use it.
  • Seeing sights is a bit like collecting things. Having experiences and developing relationships is much more rewarding.
  • Life is short. We are all dying. Time is our most precious commodity. We should therefore spend our time doing things we are passionate about.
  • We don’t own our possessions. We are just their custodians for a period of time.
  • Worry is an energy drain. If we can fix something, there is no need to worry about it. If we can’t fix it, there is also no need to worry.
  • Life is lived on the edge. Calculated risk taking and actively pursuing our fears is where we live our richest lives.
  • We can be together 24×7 for a very long time and still want to be together.
  • We really love and appreciate our family and friends. We have a lot of people who love us.