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 time.

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."
"Really? When?"
"This summer."
"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 line.

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 between.

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 in:

"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 can find.

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 found.

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 be...

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 Conquerors.

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.

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