I started this journey 10 months ago today. I guess this post is both a celebration of 10 months and a recognition of what I’ve left behind. The path I’ve taken may not always have been clear, and I won’t pretend it is now either, but I have learned a few things in the past little while. I can’t say it’s been a wild ride, though there have been some wild moments and periods. On the whole it’s been a pretty tempered and moderate 10 months. That being said, it’s been full of wonder, challenges, new activities, and awe inspiring sights. I wouldn’t change it for a thing. But I have made my mistakes as well. While I’ve gained a great deal in life experiences and adapted to a nomadic existence quite well, I have also recognized that my 2 families are very far from me. My biological family is as spread out as it’s always been, and I’m used to that, but I do miss them. But that’s not new. My second family, my aspirational family, the friends I’ve chosen and held close for half my life are now, only available on screens. I’m grateful that I have that at least, but I can’t say I don’t miss the access, the comfort, the face-to-face dialogs, laughs, games, drinks and philosophical disagreements. Those are all gone. Sure, I speak to some on occasion, via a Google Hangout or a Skype session or most often via a simple text chat, but obviously that’s not the same. Yes, I have new conversations with new people all the time. Those are great, but nothing replaces the people you have grown with for decades. But I made the choices that lead me here and I certainly don’t regret it.
The truth is, this still feels like something new and even more so over the past month. I like to think of it as the start of my 3rd life, having had 2 incredibly lucky and privileged previous lives. But today I’m 40, 4 decades. My first life took place in Haiti. My first 2 decades were spent in the warmth of the Caribbean and its people. Right from the beginning I had a life of privilege provided by 2 intelligent and hard working parents who loved me unconditionally. I went to the best english school in the country and was surrounded by the elite but managed to chose amongst them, the ones with the best hearts and the most humility. I was certainly lucky. I did really well in school and learned to absorb an incredible amount of information, much of which I somehow still possess. But Haiti was not meant for me, or rather I wasn’t meant for Haiti. I knew it was a temporary home for me, as much as I loved it and appreciate the impacts it has had on my life and how deeply it shaped me, I just never quite fit in. But again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
My second life took place over the 2+ decades that I lived in Montreal. I fell in love with that city right from the beginning. It’s a big city with a small city feel. It has an intimacy few cities can provide, but also wraps you in a blanket of anonymity. That combination was perfect for me and in sharp contrast to my previous home, where the communities were sharply divided by income classes and there was no privacy or anonymity at all. The elite class was small and everyone knew everything about everyone else. Rumors swirled around relentlessly and the upper class simply did not socialize with the other classes. The truth was, there was only really one other class to begin with, the lower class and there simply was no mixing. There was nothing in common between the 2 segments of the population except for the language and the food. It was a sad and painful truth of my formative years but it’s also one of the things that most powerfully determined by perspective on life and on societies in general. In Montreal however, there were no clear lines dissecting society on the basis of income. Montreal certainly has it’s share of poor, and even has extreme poverty but it’s a small segment of the population and Quebec’s social welfare, while terribly flawed, still went a long way to providing many of the basic needs of the poor. So, it wasn’t obvious who was from the upper class or who was from the lower class. Save for those who flaunted their money and those who truly couldn’t care less about how they presented themselves, the lines were essentially invisible. This, was simply beautiful. Quebec felt like a just society. Over the years I began to see more of the cracks in the system and I certainly started getting disillusioned and frustrated with some of the bureaucracy of the province, some of it’s ridiculous rules, and its terribly inefficient use, or lack of use, of technology. But those things apart, I managed to surround myself with some of the most beautiful people to have walked the earth. Intelligent, sympathetic, warm, strong souls floated around me at all times and I floated around them, learning as much as I could from them. It was another 20+ years of privilege. I started my company in that period, I lived in great neighborhoods, created laid-back homes for myself, and while I was certainly part of the lower class, and officially lived below the poverty line, I never considered myself poor. Sure I felt broke, A LOT, but I never felt poor. I never forgot that I had a rich and beautiful life. Even in the midst of my lowest moments or in times of incredible frustration, I still never lost sight of the fact that I was a lucky person. I worked hard, for many years but I never felt like I was moving forward. I had a ceiling I simply could not break. The truth is, I’ve never been a good businessman. I never liked that world, despite the fact that I had a business of my own, and now officially run 2 businesses, I just never saw myself as an entrepreneur. In a way that’s a good thing, because I do love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else, and it often doesn’t feel like work, but on the flip-side of that, it held me back for a very long time, and I can openly admit that it still does. But despite that, I still managed to live a truly rich life in an incredibly diverse, exciting, and open city. My second life was fraught with frustrations and delays but it was also full of intimacy, warmth and overwhelming beauty. I was lucky.
And now, on to the third, the nomadic, the rediscovery.
10 months ago I started this third life. While I’m sure it won’t last 2 decades, like my previous 2, I have no idea how long it will last or where it will lead me. And that is the biggest feature of this existence. It is unlike any other period of my life. There is no certainty, no real physical direction, no real plan, no agenda, no destination, and no real consistency. It’s full of a level of freedom I have never had. My first life was dictated by my parents and my school experience. It was sheltered in a way, and most definitely limited to a very specific geographic location. It was very clear where I would be until I graduated high-school. The line through my life up to graduation was clearly defined. My second life wasn’t nearly so clear but I had a home in Montreal. I had a life there I was generally quite happy with. I had no aspirations for anything radical. I was comfortable and in love with everything around me. I didn’t have financial stability, but had consistency in every other aspect of my life. I may not have known where I’d be 10 years later, but I knew where I’d be for 2,4 maybe even 6. I never thought further than that, but I had stability, repetition, certainty. 10 months ago, I left all that behind. I kept only 3 things. I kept my friends in my heart and promised I would do my best to keep them close. I kept my girlfriend in my life and looked forward to having her with me on my travels. And I kept my business and carried that with me on every step of my travels.
I still run my business on a day to day basis. As with all businesses, some days are better than others, but in the end, very little has changed. My income is almost exactly the same as it was in my last year in Montreal, and perhaps even slightly higher. The rest, is also very similar. I’ve changed my desktop for a laptop and I move around with a bunch of equipment, but the work process is the same, the challenges are much the same, and except for having different workplaces almost every day, or at the very least every week, I can’t say much has changed. I haven’t been speaking to all my friends as much as I might like, but with the social media platforms and communications tools at my disposal I’ve managed to update and get updates from almost all the people who most matter to me. Sure it’s not always on a regular basis and in some cases a couple months might go by in between catch-ups, but in many ways, that’s not unlike how things would work during Montreal winters anyway. But, regardless of the frequency, they are just as important and present in my thoughts today as they’ve always been. Where things have most changed is in relation to my girlfriend. She was the only significant thing in my life that I wasn’t able to hold on to. The fault is completely mine. I lost sight of things, got lost, made a bunch of mistakes in a short period of time, and pushed her to her limits. I couldn’t hold on to her and she no longer had any reasons for why she should hold on to me. While I don’t regret that we’re no longer together, mostly because I can see more clearly that we wouldn’t have been happy together over the long run, I am also keenly aware of how much I miss her and how, again, lucky I was to have had the opportunity to share a part of my life with her. I miss her. I miss talking to her. But I also believe we’re both free to be happier now and that realization or belief makes things much easier to accept, and reminds me that I haven’t lost anything. I in fact had over 2 years of the most healthy and fulfilling relationship of my life with someone I and my friends have the utmost respect for. No, nothing was lost.
And now, I’m alone, walking the earth for the first time with no responsibilities to anyone. It’s a completely new feeling for me. It seems that this 3rd life of mine is completely up to me. I have no timelines to live up to, no expectations to meet save my own, and no social compromises to make. Added to my direction-less physical existence, it’s a brand new world laid bare before me and at times I even find it a bit scary, but mostly, it’s just exhilarating and full of potential. I have an entire planet inviting me to come inside and get to know it. It seduces me patiently, sending little teases and taunts in the form of photos, recommendations from fellow travelers, and documentaries. An entire planet subtly messaging me names of countries, cities, beaches, mountains, deserts. It was waiting for me to realize that I was free to follow my own heart, and once I did, it began its seduction and I find myself completely under its spell and in love. I don’t know how long I will continue this life, but I don’t really care either. The truth is, strangely, I’m almost never lonely or unhappy. I have shitty days, frustrating days, setbacks and I make tons of mistakes, but this feels more right than almost anything I’ve ever done in any of my lives. I may not have my lovely life partner anymore, but I’ve reconnected with my original life partner, accepting his faults, working on figuring out how to better him, and trying to let him grow in whatever direction pulls him while having faith that he’ll find the right path, home, and life.
I am indeed very lucky because while nothing ever lasts, nothing is ever lost.
JUST SOME OF THE FAMILY I LEFT BEHIND