I believe in The Mandatory Journey. I'm following fear and I'm letting it guide me. I'm doing all the things that should have been done years ago. I'm chasing new friendships, places, climates, scenery... experiences. I'm expanding my knowledge of the world, the beautiful cultures and beautiful people within it. I'm on a journey of risks, rewards, highs and lows. I'm doing what should be mandatory for generations to follow. We only have one chance at life. We only get a limited amount of time on this amazing planet to make a mark, make a difference and to make a life that not only we talk about, but our children talk about and their children to follow. I believe if we explore, learn and experience as much as we can, then we are half way to creating the legacy we all desire.
What is it?
The mandatory journey is simply a destination that is completely foreign to one's self. It is an experience that you would otherwise never in your life even consider, or somewhere you're completely sceptical or terrified of traveling through. I believe this opens our minds more than any text book or lecturer ever could. It is education at the highest level, it develops wisdom and forces you to mature. You understand the real meaning of gratitude and you can learn to love in a whole new way. And the beauty of the mandatory journey is it isn't a “one shot in your 20’s” sort of thing. It is something that anyone at any age with any level of experience can enjoy.
I want to use someone I know as an example.
Her name is Teala. It's pronounced teal-ah, like the colour, but then followed with a blunt "ah". Just wanted to clear that up haha.
Aaaaaanyways... This is the story...
In July 2017 when I was a travel agent, a competition went around the company that was hosted by one of our preferred suppliers. It was an adventure company that I was very passionate about and loved selling. The competition was called a "Mega Famil", this basically means it's going to be a pretty amazing prize. The winners got to choose from 5 different trips that spanned across India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Everything paid for (including all the flights) and to finish it off, all five seperate trips rally at a secret destination for a massive group party!
I wanted to win this thing sooooo bad! I have always had a fascination with India and desperately wanted to immerse myself in a place I had very little knowledge about. A journey was tugging at my sleeve. I had to win!
The competition went for a few months with the winners to be announced around November. I was selling the absolute shit out of this product, anyone who walked in asking for an adventure would cop an ear full. One booking. Two bookings. Three Bookings... My tally was increasing as the leader boards were released every few weeks. There I was! Top 3 agents in the state! The comp was nation wide and only the top 6 in each state were guaranteed a prize.
During this time, friends would constantly be asking "Which trip will you do?". To which I'd respond "I have no idea, they all look amazing. But I think I'm going to go with North India".
Young Teala heard these responses and would give a snarky "Yuck. I'd never go to India" remark. I'd laugh and smile knowing all too well that she's more of a "1st world" kind of girl haha. Being a massive Germaphobe, any 3rd world, slightly untidy, rugged and apparently dirty country would be the last place you'd find her. You'd have better luck convincing her to lick toe-jam off your foot after a long hike.
I was in my room when my phone rang. It was the Rep from the company! "You already know that you're a winner right? haha". I was the top seller in the state! I pushed and pushed and achieved something I never thought I could do. I won!
Fast forward to February 2018.
I had just finished up a trip to my dream country - Japan! I had all these opportunities at my fingertips to earn money, travel and do the thing I am most passionate about - Snowboarding!
So I handed in my resignation, negotiated an immediate termination and went on my way.
But the trip!? Well... I had to forfeit it. This decision didn't come easily and trust me, it hurt to know I would not be basking in the fruits of my labour. I negotiated that it be given to someone in my team as I didn't want some random wildcard winner to have it, at least then someone I know can enjoy it. My manager said to leave it with her and she'll pass it out, so I had no idea who received it.
But what came next genuinely made me happy.
April 2018. The travel date for the trip to India.
As I was laying in bed scrolling through social media, as you do after a long day at work. I see a snapchat update from Teala. Curious, I tap the little story icon...My eyes widen in sync with my smile as I'm presented with an incredible view over bustling streets and buildings so tightly packed it looked uninhabitable. The atmosphere she must have experienced would have been otherworldly! She got the trip... And she actually went! haha.
I really do love that Teala went over anyone else. Don't get me wrong, I love all my ex-colleagues, but the way she would carry on about not ever going to places like India, or not having any interest in "those places" really puts in to perspective how the Mandatory Journey works.
I remember messaging her whilst she was in the secret destination for the end of trip group party. (ps: The party was in Goa... F**kin' spewin I didn't go! hahaha).
These are the texts: (My friend's faces are scribbled out for privacy reasons.)
Why did I tell this story?
Because we all have assumptions about different places, people and cultures when we don't really know anything about them. We also have choices when it comes to those assumptions. We can do one of two things:
1. Choose to listen to the external influences. Things like the news, friends and family, overhearing a stranger on a bus or at a cafe, the internet, a brochure or even someone like a professional travel agent. And of course we are going to let that stuff influence our assumption, they probably know more about that topic, destination, person, religion, culture etc. than us - right?
2. Until we have experienced it for ourselves, we can choose to stay open minded. We can choose to accept people and their cultures for what they are.
Note: I'm not talking like a hippie or anything either with that love everyone bullshit. Fucked up extremist groups like the KKK and ISIS can all die in a fire, along with the majority of politicians <--- (see, I can hate equally). But we can't go on hating an entire race or religion because a very small minority publicises a bad image of their culture and beliefs. All I'm saying is, we first need to witness the world before we reprimand things we have no idea about.
Oh and just as a side note - Religion is the single most accomplished crock of shit we have ever seen! It is the biggest killer and spreads the most hate than anything else in the history of our species!... I'll let you ponder that in your own time.
Anyways... Rant over...
That trip could have gone to anyone else, anyone with an interest in that country. But the fact that she got it, someone with no interest, someone who ASSUMED it would be a shit country to travel through. Knowing I won that trip and it went towards her changing her opinion for the better. Knowing she loved every minute of it... Feels good!
So... Get out there and explore. Feel the addictiveness of adventure. Step away from your usual pool-side-vacay and get lost in foreign lands. Be open to new experiences. Jump so far out of your comfort-zone that it leaves you fuckin' stranded. Get so busy creating a life that you say "I'm not scared of death". Be spontaneous, be courageous, be free!