Every thought starts with a story, as does this...
Three years ago, exactly, I visited the city of Prague, capital of the
Czech Republic for the first time. Some friends of mine and I had chosen the
city to visit because another friend of ours was there to teach English, and we
would surprise him. We did, we did surprise him, and we had an amazing
Two of my friends, more than any of the rest of us, talked about wanting to
move back to Prague for a while some time after graduation, namely Jay and
Jeff. We graduated.
I got a phone call almost two months ago from Jay:
"I'm doing it! I'm moving to Prague."
"Yeah, you want to go with me?"
"I was thinking it would be a lot easier to do if I went with a friend."
"Yeah, that's a good point. Doesn't Jeff want to go?"
"Eh... He has a girlfriend now."
"Oh yeah. Sure, I'd love to go."
I agreed, half joking. But as the next few weeks went by, and my mundane
life reminded me of how much I hate it and all five events that happen over and
over again i began to think to myself, "You know what, I can do this. I should
do this! I am going to move to Prague with Jay."
I called Jay and told him that i was moving with him, it is on. I started
doing research and looking for plane tickets. I called Jay back to inform
him of what I had found out, and he was surprised. Surprised I wasn't kidding,
"You are really going? You are talking as if you are really going?!?"
It seems that Jay and I always end up doing crazy things that other people
back out of. Well, Jeff, if a girl is going to keep you here, then stay here, we
are moving to Prague!
Now, making the information public, starting with my parents, was a little
tricky. I didn't know how people, including my parents, would take it; and I
didn't want the news getting around to my boss until everything was in
As I slowly stared to tell people, eventually telling my boss and everyone I
work with, I noticed that I only ever got two reactions, nothing in
Everyone has their own ways...
Reaction Number One: "WOOHOO!" These people, after telling them, were
excited for me. Reactions ranging from, "oh, you will love it!" to "I
remember when I..." and "I am so excited for you!" I consider these people in
two groups. The people who understand what i am doing, and the people who are
just excited for me because of the opportunity; the second group having a much
higher population than the first group. Either way, though, everyone in this
group is happy for me.
Reaction Number Two: "D'WHAT!!!??" These people, well, they think I am jumping
off a bridge. One person actually told me, "I think you've lost your mind."
They can't understand why in the world I would want to pack up and move
somewhere else; away from my family and job and everything that I know. (Let
me give you a hint: that is kind of why. Not that I am running, i just want to
see new and different things!) The people in this category, it would seem, are
in two different categories, also (more on that later).
After all of these reactions, and seeing only two sides, I began to wonder,
"What is the difference here? Why are some people happy for me, and some people
think I have lost my mind? What is the basic difference between these people?"
One incident, though having nothing to do with this subject at all, brought it
all into perspective for me.
I was somewhere the other day (okay, I was at the YMCA, in the locker room,
everyone was naked.. I wasn't going to go into all that detail, but you are
the curious one, so deal with it) and this older man, in his sixties, started
talking to a younger man, in his thirties. I, honestly, didn't start
eavesdropping until the middle of the conversation, but here is where I came
"Kids these days, they don't know the value of a dollar. I can't believe they
would be traveling during spring break with gas prices so high! But what do
they care, mom and dad are paying for it! But how do you teach these kids about
the future? How to you teach them to prepare? These kids don't have a plan,
anymore! They don't know where they
are going to be in five years, or ten years! You know where you are going to be
in five years, don't you?"
The young man agreed with hesitation in his voice. The old man walked toward
the showers and I turned to the young man and asked "What if we don't
want to know where we will be in five years?" I left.
I have questions... I have those
Driving around later that evening I couldn't help but wonder what the
difference in mindset is between this man and me. It can't just be our age
difference. I refuse to believe that I will be like this man when I am his age.
We are already different, I have no plan. I am not a fan of "plans" in the sense
of "planning out your life." Though I love plans in the sense of "Do you want
to jump on a plane and move to Prague?"
It has to be something completely different between us. Something different
to the core. It has to do with how we see this world, and what we want out
of life. As I bounced it around in my head, it just jumped right out at me.
This man, this older man, was very clear in what he wants from life. He has a
plan, and he knows where he will be in five years, and he is where is was
supposed to be in five years five years ago. His goals are to do
something. I don't know this man, so I don't know his specific goals, but let
me deconstruct him into a wide range or
people like him. People that want to be somebody, they want to
accomplishsomething, be successful, and have ownership over things (whether
that be ownership of a really big house, or a successful career).
What is attractive about this, though? There is a sense of control.
There is probably some sense of security in having "ownership" over things.
Having money, having a place in life, having a home, they do seem to provide
security. There is access to healthcare. You always know where you will put
your head each night.
But what if these things really aren't security at all? What if they just
"feel" like security. What if knowing where you are going to sleep every night
isn't a good thing? Or, at the very least, what if it isn't that tempting to
you? What if I do not want to know where I will be in five years? What if I
find it exciting that I do not know where I will lay my head tonight? Or
tomorrow night? Or where my shaggy head will lay in five years from now?
I do not want to conquer life. I do not want to stake my flag in the ground
and claim this (land, career, money, etc.) as mine! For a matter of fact, all
of these things that you find so fulfilling and that bring you security would be
nothing more than a chain tied around my feet; and they have been, for far too
long. These things hinder me from what it is that I want!
I want to explore life! I don't want to see just one part of it, I want to
see all parts of it. I want to see how they differ, and how they are the same.
I want to sit and wonder why there are innate desires in us all that are all
the same, and why we go about fulfilling them in different ways. I don't want to
settle down in one place and
conquer it, I want to see it all. You can have it, for all I care, I just want
to see it. To look upon it and wonder what and why it is. I hope to one day
find something through all of this. Maybe that is why i don't want to be happy
with owning the thing. The possession has no use to me. I want to one day
find true fulfillment. I have my suspicions to where it probably is, but I will
not find it if I keep sitting here.
I want to peak around corners and lift up curtains. I want to see behind
the scenes. How can I lay claim to something if I am afraid i will lose it by
breaking the rules. You are not supposed to lift up the curtains, but i cannot
let my love for success or my career keep me from lifting up every curtain I
Conquer vs. Explore...
To use a well known event (hopefully) as an analogy:
Lewis and Clark (and their merry gang of super-hero adventurers) set out to
explore the Great American West. They paddled down rivers and walked across
plains. They peeked around mountain peaks and documented everything they
They are not, however, the embodiment of the "Great American Spirit". No,
the great American spirits came later. After the exploring was done, the
conquerors came. They were no less brave than the explorers; in same ways,
even more so. But they did not come to see, they came to own. They came to
stake claim, to grow rich. To say
"this is mine, and it shall take care of me." Their intentions were not to
find amazing things, but to grow rich because of them. I am not saying this is
true for all, but for the most part, I think I will stand by my claim.
Two in one
As I sit writing this tonight, I notice that not all in the category of
"Response Number Two" are of the mindset that I described. There is a second
mindset that makes up this category, and probably overlaps those of category
number one who do not understand why I am moving.
I hate to break down the categories like this, but this is honestly what I
have observed. The men of category number two mainly make up the first
mindset, the one I have described in length here. The other mindset comes mostly
from women. I will attempt to describe what I have seen their mindset to
They are safe where they are. This is where everything they know is. Their
family is here. Their homes are here. There is no reason to leave this
place, there is no reason to see anything beyond here. They are stuck in the
comfortable. I don't wish to say that this is bad, it is just the way it is.
They are (i'm sorry) the wives of the
conquerors (not to say that they are submissive house wives). They will stay
where they are safe and taken care of. So, in a sense, they can be included with
The dangerous minds of different people...
Is there a mindset that is superior? I cannot honestly be unbiased. I am
tempted to scream, "HELL YES THERE IS!! My mindset is far superior. These
people do not know what or why they are conquering! I may not know what I am
exploring, but that is why one explores."
I do not have the answer, though. I am too passionate. I cannot
determine if one mindset is superior to the other, or if they are both the same.
I do, however, suspect that people of my generation (I am twenty-five years old)
are prone to the mindset of the Explorer, though they may be too scared to go
through with it. It is much easier to just settle down and live in this
American Dream of Conquerors, just blend right in.
That said, this all scares the hell out of me.