Category Archives: Travel

An End To Adventure?

After 1 month in Chiang Mai, I realized just how deeply happy I was with it.

Edit: this draft was not reviewed & published to my Email list a bit late.

Chaing Mai is beautiful, has mountains, nature, waterfalls, extremely cheap (yet luxurious) accommodation, delicious food, and so much more.

It’s not all perfect- Bangkok for example is much better for dating, and Sofia, Bulgaria cools down quite a bit.

Leaving a destination is always the true test to how much I liked it or didn’t. Do I wish to return, or am I happy to leave?

In Vietnam I was so excited to leave that I got to the airport extra early- I missed Thailand, and Vietnam was a bit too chaotic for my tastes (as in they literally don’t stop for you at cross-walks and have to endanger your life to cross the road).

I spent 4 days in Vietnam, and now almost a week in Bangkok. I feel torn as what to do next, as often I do while traveling.

With the whole world at my fingertips, it’s hard to make a decision! But recently I’ve observed that my choices are becoming more and more narrow.

For example 2 years ago when I just started I researched the endless destinations and even created a post on my blog about all the places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do.

It included dozens of countries and wild adventures that would no doubt create memories for life.

However, I’ve noticed that there’s a “yin and yang” to life. You can adventure and be crazy, but you also need familiarity, comfort, etc.

One psychologist (I forgot whom) said there were 6 basic psychological needs of humans. One was familiarity, and then the one right after was spontaneity.

On one hand you need routine, comfort, and familiarity. But on the other hand you need some stimulation and newness. A dash of uncertainty makes for some excitement!

That’s where this post begins. It’s a bit wrong to say “an end to adventure” because of course adventure will not end.

I’d probably really enjoy staying in one city for 1 year, but no doubt by the end of it I might again be writing up a list of endless destinations that I would now know I can’t possibly complete within even a reasonable time period.

A better way of saying this would be “a temporary end to adventure.” Let’s dive into this.

2 Years of Adventure

I can’t believe I am writing this. It’s still fresh in my mind marveling at those individuals who claimed to have traveled to a dozen countries, speak 3 languages, and make money online.

There was just something about it that drew me in. Now I’m in, and have been, and what I’m discovering is that this is not the one-way trip that I thought it would be.

Every nomad ends their journey. I’ve wrote about this before, when I was mentally snapping in Thailand last year (but that was more-so due to heart-break, surgery, and isolation).

In the past 2 years I’ve actually visited 14 or 15 countries- which means I’m excluding unintentional layovers.

I’ve learned to speak some French, a few phrases in Dutch, Finnish, and Hungarian, some basic Bulgarian, and some Thai. My German has been slightly improved. There’s probably some others in there.

This fact is even more shocking- I’ve “lived” (which in my book means spending 1 month minimum in the country) in Phoenix; Montreal, Canada; Heidelberg (debatable as it was broken up), Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Pafos, Cyprus; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Canggu, Bali. This is 6 or 7 countries, depending on how you count it!

I don’t know what I expected would happen after I did all of this to be honest. I looked up to those who had accomplished such feats, as if something would change.

Alas, everywhere you go, there you are. I am still just me, at the end of the day. I’ve “done” so much but nothing really changed. At the same time, I’ve changed completely & grown so much.

Does that make sense? If you’ve aggressively pursued any goal you can probably understand me.

Travel Fatigue

Now let’s be completely, brutally honest. I was hardly happy during all of this traveling.

There have been some exceptional moments, such as falling madly in love, hooking up in Thailand, riding a motorbike, surfing, and those unforgettable nights with friends.

The growth itself is beautiful and amazing also. Simply looking back onto my days in Montreal for example, I see that technically I wasn’t in the best state (financially, physically, emotionally), but I was growing so much and so I look back on those days fondly.

But there comes a point that every new country is.. well, as they say in Thailand: same same.

By the time I entered my most recent “new” country- Vietnam- I was hardly impressed. I walked down the famous party street excited, but I had context for it- it was like KhaoSan, in Bangkok.

The temples, bridges, rivers, nature, etc. all fade into the same thing. Yeah, it’s beautiful, and profound, but you can have too much of it and become numb to it all.

You still experience culture shock, but in a different way. It’s almost annoying and you’re getting severely diminishing returns from your efforts.

Think of it like this: the difference between $1 and $10 is a lot, but the difference between 10 million and 25 million not so much in terms of lifestyle change.

With an extra $9- from starting at $1- you can suddenly afford significantly better food and even restaurant food.

When you’ve already got 10 million to enjoy on life, an extra 15 million, while substantially greater than the $9 improvement in the other, will not drastically improve the individual’s life.

The same is true about travel. It becomes fatiguing. You start having other needs, and prioritizing other things that the destinations.

For example, I wrote that I wanted to visit a water-park, Chiang Rai, get a tattoo, or visit Pai while staying in Chiang Mai. I did none of that and give 0 fucks about doing it. Another fucking temple or experience hardly turns me on.

In hindsight, this created a lot of troubles for me and my ex when we were visiting some European countries together. All I wanted to do was work in a cafe, while she wanted to go to museums.

My brain could literally not handle any new stimulation, so I desperately wished to return to the same restaurants & cafes over and over. Only now can I see why we had clashes.

The same thing that brought you pleasure can bring you pain. There is a balance to everything.

The problem comes when you associate the activity with pleasure it’s easy to lose perspective which is that it may not be pleasing you anymore… but because it brought you pleasure then, it’s easy to keep up the activity (see: every addiction).

Constantly packing bags, saying goodbye, adopting to new languages & culture customs, searching for drinkable water, restaurants, etc. seriously begins to consume a ton of energy.

With other commitments such as work, relationships, and personal enjoyment time, it becomes near impossible to fulfill everything while on the road.

It simply gets to be “too much.” I am writing this now in Bangkok, and I really want to love this city.

In fact, tonight was absolutely fun. I enjoyed going out. It was great, but I am realizing that I can’t handle it… now.

A Narrowing of Travel Destinations

About 6 months ago I snapped from heart-break, isolation, and travel fatigue. I was unintentionally traveling at an absurd pace, I think an average of one new country every 2 weeks.

I didn’t even want to do that, but things were just getting fucked up and I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life.

I thought I wanted to move to Portland or Vegas, but I quickly realized upon returning to Phoenix that this was a form of escapism. I began to catch my grounding in Phoenix, and then I was planning on going back to Bulgaria.

But in my heart I really wanted to experience things in Bali & Thailand. I figured I’d knock out some goals there, then go.

Even in Phoenix then, my destination list was looking more like “Montreal, Sofia, Bali, and Thailand” compared to that ridiculous list of dozens of countries to visit.

Compare that to when I was down to go anywhere, intended on doing this and that and everything, etc. 2 years ago before I had set off!!

As I’ve traveled, the destinations list has shrunk so much. Other things have became priorities, and I’ve observed my own energetic limits with travel.

Right now in Bangkok I literally have 2 options: Chiang Mai or Sofia. I’ll probably do Chiang Mai 1 more month, then Sofia for 3 months. Then I’ve already decided I’ll return to Thailand to live for about 4 months.

Of course, that’s a rough, un-set plan. Things change. They probably will. But compare this to back when I was using “Google Flights Explore” to view every bloody country I could visit.

I was recently invited to Holland with free accommodation and cheap food, but turned it down.

I just can’t, anymore. Well, at least for the time being. I need to slow down.

A Plan For The Future

My plan for at least until the end of the year is to only visit destinations that I’ve previously visited and have a social circle, or ONLY visit a new place if it’s with friends and in the context of a vacation.

Work is such a priority now. So is fitness, social circle, and dating. After taking several girls home in Bangkok (not necessarily hooking up with them all), I’m really desiring something a bit more stable.

It’s really fascinating to see how I’ve changed like this. I thought I’d never settle like this, yet here I am, kind of nearing the end of the line.

I can intuitively see the future. Starting now I will only visit familiar destinations- specifically Chiang Mai, Sofia, Bali (maybe), Montreal, and Phoenix.

My travel is slowing down. I’ll begin to spend more and more time in each place. 1 month in Chiang Mai, and who knows maybe I’ll be tempted into another month.

Then Bulgaria, for 3 months. Then back to Thailand (Chiang Mai).

The only exception to this is Bangkok- I’ve got 2 week’s experience in Bangkok, and I told myself I’d give here a try for a month or two once I’m making more money and re-grounded.

There’s also one other exception, but it can be wrote about if it comes about.

Probably what will happen is I’ll spend considerably more time in Bulgaria & Chiang Mai, and I’ll split my time between the two or end up wishing to immigrate to Bulgaria or Chiang Mai.

Then that’ll happen, and I’ll start to really slow down my traveling.

Who knows, maybe it won’t happen like this. I still want to check out South America for example, but that could be years down the line rather than months.

Adaptation Cost

Why is this happening? The biggest reason digital nomads and perpetual travelers start to slow down then “quit” traveling is the adaptation cost of every new destination.

The only ones who have successfully managed long-term travel is with consistent returning to favorite destinations with stable social bases, OR having a partner or community to travel with.

At best the adaptation period is about a week to a new city, if you’re planning on staying & working remotely.

While often pleasurable, significant energy is lost learning customs, finding restaurants, places to work, etc.

The simple act of discovering new roads is taxing on the brain. It becomes near-impossible, sometimes impossible to do other tasks when you have to adapt to a new place.

For example I haven’t done yoga since leaving Phoenix, despite being in yoga hot-spot Bali!

I was too busy with adventure, adaptation, and work and socializing that I while I did have the time I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to wish to invest in a yoga practice or find a teacher.

When you go back to places that are familiar, there is no adaptation cost, except to a small extent.

Every time I’ve gone back to Montreal for example has been a breeze- I know the city, metro, have friends, know restaurants, and cafes.

Same for Sofia, Bulgaria. I’d argue that I enjoyed Chiang Mai so much for the simple fact I was here last year, even if I didn’t enjoy it so much then. It is familiar now, I know where to go, and for that I required almost 0 energy with adapting myself to here.

There is a small cultural adaptation cost even if destinations are familiar. This can be painful and leave you crying in a car, feeling so misunderstood and out of a place (true story from me one time when I returned to America after years abroad and realized I had changed so much).

One reason I’m hesitant to go to Bulgaria now is that I realize I’ve culturally adapted to Southeast Asia and Thailand specifically. Certain habits, such as a slight bow, big smile, etc. would make me appear high and insane to Bulgarians.

Going from Thailand to USA to Bulgaria is better because USA isn’t as respectful as Thailand, and Bulgaria isn’t as respectful as USA (in terms of service & social customs). Going directly from Bulgaria to Thailand or vice versa is a more sudden, drastic, difficult change.

Things Always Change

Maybe I’ll get bored of staying in Chiang Mai or Sofia. In fact, it’s likely that’ll happen.

So that’s why I clarified earlier that this is a temporary “ending of adventure.”

That being said I do prefer the title “an end to adventure” because the past 2 years have been chaos, but now things will likely never be as chaotic again for the simple fact that I don’t want it to be chaotic.

2 Beautiful Years of Adventure (slowing down)

Looking back I can’t believe all of the experiences I’ve had. What the fuck?

It wasn’t long ago that I was a nobody from Nebraska, not respected by anybody. Now here I am, a “world traveler,” finally what I wanted to be, and living dreams I never could’ve imagined.

Look, I’m not trying to hype it up. It’s not like I’m high all the time. It becomes normal.

The point is just that looking back there’s a certain satisfaction for that it was done.

From what I know there are a couple different types of happiness, and one is growth-based. If you have grown a lot or achieved something difficult, you will always derive fulfillment from that.

I feel that way about this. Today is where I am consciously realizing my own needs and evening out from what was a chaotic, beautiful journey.

I wasn’t necessarily happy all the time. The whole 9 months fiasco that began in Cyprus and ended in Phoenix (with like 10 countries in between) was not a light period.

But I came out of the darkness. That’s what’s fulfilling. I learned, grew, and reset my own priorities.

I’m very grateful for that all of this was experienced! Like I said earlier, it’s not necessarily the end to adventure. Perhaps after re-grounding I’ll wish to do 3 months in Costa Rica, then Colombia, etc.

Just right now my priorities are about familiarity and comfort. Enjoy deep friendships and deeper relationships with women.

I really can’t believe it’s been 2 fucking years. Wow.

A New Beginning

It’s not an end- a new beginning. The chaotic, uncontrolled travel is coming to a close.

Now it’s more about focusing on business, enjoying a great social life, and developing other hobbies.

Travel is still without a doubt on the table- but not every power is meant to be used to its fullest capability. I can be anywhere anytime, but should I be? I think not.

Now it’s about cultivating relationships in those places that I love- Phoenix, Montreal, Sofia, and Chiang Mai. And when I’m ready, I’ll check out Bangkok more.

It seems everyone who also has traveled long-term has felt these things and gone through a similar path.

At first it’s crazy, exciting etc. and you love it. But then you find a home, or a group of people you really resonate with. Or you straight up fall in love.

Then you start to slow down, enjoy those places that are familiar, and focus more on fulfillment and social life.

After this the individual has one or two main bases, or settles down completely.

What Other Paths of Mastery Await?

A closing thought before this post is over. I do wonder, what other growth challenges does life offer?

In life you can become an expert athlete, develop a hobby or passion, contribute massive value, grow a business, and so much more.

Most people don’t commit to mastery and truly grow. So they stagnate and live life in a derp state.

One of the beautiful things about this travel experience is that it prevented me from derping.

I had to be massively awake and focused to do this. I’ve grown so much and learned about who I am and what I want so much so that being fulfilled is much easier.

So now I wonder: what other paths of mastery await? If I commit to business mastery, will I receive similar epiphanies and shocking growth?

At any rate, doing something bold or challenging seems to be one of the keys to fulfillment in life.

This is something no one can take credit for but me. I planed piano for over a decade, but my parents forced me to do that (and then I later did it out of habit). Piano is not a true accomplishment in my books. This is.

In the end everything changes- you start out in yin, then shift to yang, and then balance..

First, to desperately wish to travel like crazy, then, to do. Then, to find a happy medium, a true fulfillment.

Maybe the same with every path of mastery..

Done (:

-Michael

Love & Ladyboys: Tales of Thailand

In 4 days, I must leave Thailand for a “visa run,” or I must extend my visa. Wow, that went by fast.

It feels like yesterday that I was departing from Bali, saying good-bye to my newfound friends and adventures I enjoyed in Indonesia.

I deeply missed Bali- it’s a place I must return to soon, but there is just something here in Thailand that nowhere else in the world has.

It’s got something that makes “Thailand” the place to live and “Bali” the place to work-cation.

In fact it even has me questioning the whole immigrate-to-Bulgaria thing that I had originally planned on doing later this year!

Now the thought of committing to a 3-month apartment lease in Sofia seems too much after the “take it day-by-day” vibe you have here in Southeast Asia.

With next-day flights basically as cheap as flights purchased 1 week or 1 month in advance, and abundant apartment rentals available on a month-by-month basis, any type of commitment seems scary.

Did you know that Asians, when their brains have been studied, literally process information different than Westerners? This is actually probably true of every culture.

I’ve taken many of the good pieces of their culture and integrated it into my personality. Now, while I do miss Bulgaria, I kind of want to stay…

So let’s talk about Thailand. For the past month, I’ve been living in Chiang Mai.

Last year I was in Bangkok for 1 week and Chiang Mai for 3 weeks. I also had just broken up with my ex, was in massive culture shock, had a surgery, and a motorcycle crash. Yeah, things were a bit dark…

I couldn’t appreciate the beauty and “awesomeness” of Thailand then. Now I do, and WOW, now I understand why people come here and stay forever!

Chiang Mai is just such an incredible place to live. It’s quiet, relaxed, filled with beautiful nature, near waterfalls and lakes and mountains, cheap, has tasty food, and even the night-life scene is pretty good considering how small the city is!

One of my most favorite aspects is the abundant number of coffee shops & cafes all over the place that are literally designed for work.

This place caters to students and digital entrepreneurs, so it’s an exceptional place to get some work done while also having a great, balanced social & party life.

At any hour you are sure to find a good place to work with good or exceptional internet connection. Coffee & Thai Tea is delicious.

“Ristr8to,” while not a place designed for work, is a place I love to frequent with friends as it literally is one of the best coffee shops in the world. Their signature coffee costs 98 Baht, or about $3.

In USA for a similar taste & size you’d pay at least $6, but probably even more. Especially in expensive cities like Seattle!

Here you can enjoy world class coffee by a Barista who literally won multiple international Latte Art championships around the world for just $3! If you follow my Instagram (@DrivingTheUniverse) you’ll regularly see I post his designs he makes on my coffee, including angels, unicorns, rabbits, and more!

Things are just good here. I am missing a bit of that deep social connection & social life that I had in Sofia, but I can see that the longer I stay here the more likely I am to find it here.

In fact, it is already developing like that. I’ve already observed myself coincidentally bumping into several people all over the place. It kind of feels like the Sofia, Bulgaria of Southeast Asia!

Thai culture is exceptionally kind as well. You can expect amazing service, smiles, and genuinely wonderful people. Learning a bit of Thai helps also.

One running joke about Thailand is about the ladyboys. “Be careful about hooking up with ladyboys,” everyone shouts!

One night me and a friend went out. I went home with a beautiful girl, a 10/10 in my book.

He went home also with a beautiful girl but… As his hand went down, he.. erm.. found out that it wasn’t a girl he took home.

It didn’t bother him though, and having spent some time here, I wouldn’t say it would bother anyone so much either. It’s only scary when you haven’t lived here. Once you’ve experienced life here in Thailand yourself, silly things like this don’t bother you.

If that happens, you just draw the line and walk away.

In your mind it is traumatizing because you know it’s a boy, but when the primal part of your brain really thinks it is a girl you can’t really be traumatized, even after logically knowing that it is a boy.

The next night after my friend pulled a ladyboy, I met with a ladyboy. We didn’t touch or kiss anything- I suspected it was a ladyboy from the start, given that her friends were ladyboys (typically they all hang around each other).

I was tired and a bit tipsy, and I couldn’t believe that it was a guy. This “girl” looked so real that if she were alone with a ton of other girls who weren’t obviously ladyboys, there would honestly be no way to tell.

They invited me to dinner, and I decided to go, because why not? It was an interesting experience hanging out with them.

Before I had felt resistant to being around ladyboys, and I’m not entirely sure why. Now I feel my mind is more open, I feel more compassionate and understanding towards trans.

I can’t say whether it’s right or wrong, but my thinking now is just that it’s a path that their soul must experience in this lifetime. In that way, it is perhaps right for them, and no need to judge.

I personally would not want to do anything sexual with a ladyboy, but after that night and hearing about my friend’s story the fear of accidentally kissing a ladyboy is gone.

Yeah, this sounds crazy, some of you are gonna freak out, but really it’s only one of those things you’re afraid of when you haven’t had proper experience in Thailand.

After you’ve lived in Thailand for some time (technically I’ve spent 2 total months in Thailand now!) the fear is gone. There’s sometimes no way to tell, and the primal part of your brain can’t get traumatized because the ladyboys truly do look so feminine.

Countless memories have already been made in this fast month of Thailand, so much so that I’m a bit sucker-punched because I really can’t decide what to do next!

My visa expires in 4 days- what the hell should I do?

I’ve tried just now writing down some ideas. I want to explore Vietnam, Bangkok, and even stay longer here in Chiang Mai. I also of course miss Bali and have friends there.

There’s just so much to explore and do, and now that I’m finally healing from my last relationship I’m feeling so much more mentally healthy and ready to take on the world.

I am regaining that self-confidence and self-belief that everything will be alright no matter what.

I am feeling stronger, happier, and more able of taking care of myself and working towards my goals.

I am reconnecting with myself, feeling alive, feeling energized.

In the next month or so, I plan on going back to Sofia. Of course, it seems that every month I extend my stay in Asia a bit longer… So we’ll see what happens.

For now, I must decide what to do. Visa extension, or visa run? Move to Bangkok, or visit it for a weekend while living in Chiang Mai? So much to do and see!

And the beautiful thing is, unlike Europe or North America, everything is so affordable and short-term that there’s no such thing as a bad decision.

Apartments don’t have to be booked for 1 year or even 3 months. I can do it for 1 week and decide day by day what to do.

I’d like to create a bit of mental stability, as I prioritize work & working out, but I’m truly relishing in the fact that I need not commit to anything.

At the end stages of healing from a relationship, I’m so happy to know that I don’t have to commit to anyone or anything now.

Who knows what I’ll do. All I know is that my experience of Bali & Thailand have been amazing and made me really question what I should do next. It was much more awesome than I could’ve ever anticipated.

-Michael.

We are All Just Humans

I’ve traveled the world for almost 2 years now, spent extended time (1+ month) in 6-7 countries, and “lived” in at least 3 countries (2 if you count living as a minimum of one year).

This blessing has provided me the opportunity to meet people of vastly different backgrounds.

I’ve met people from all 6 human continents, from countless countries, countless races, ethnic backgrounds, etc.

One thing that always stands out to me is this: we are all just humans, fundamentally.

Sure our brains may process information differently. We may speak different languages. We may come from cultures so vastly different we will never be able to fully comprehend the other’s life and upbringing.

But at a deep, fundamental level- we are all just humans. We have feelings, goals, ambitions, hopes, and a wide array of emotions.

Some of those feelings are tribal, such as the “us vs. them” mentality you see in various countries. Other feelings are productive, such as compassion & empathy.

When I see someone, even if they look different than me or speak a language I don’t understand, I just see a human.

A Russian does not look Russian, and an African does not look African. I just see a light that is a human being.

It’s really strange to think that 101 years ago the first great world war ended, and little did the world know that another greater one was right around the corner.

When I see a German I don’t fear for my life or my territory. I don’t see a Russian and think that they might wish to take my secrets. I see just people living their lives.

Most people are just good people. Yeah there’s a shitty German or two but there’s a shitty American or two also.

War just makes no sense- especially now, now that our economies are so dependent on each other.

I think 99% of people, even if slightly misguided at times, just want the best for themselves and everyone. Most people aren’t naturally tribal and aggressive.

In Bali I would often hang out in groups so diverse- people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. We could have an American, Canadian, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, and more all in one group. And we just had fun, as if the strange past of our nations clashing did not exist.

I think that war is started by a small group of heavily misguided people that somehow inspire fear & hatred in the masses. It is the politicians that send their sons to war.

When America drafted countless young boys to the pointless Vietnam War, did the Senators and House of Representatives and Judges and President go to join them? No. They sat in their comfy little chairs and read war statistics.

It’s SO easy to hate another group of people when you don’t actually know them. When you create misconceptions and a view of them but you’ve never met them, it’s easy to hate.

The politicians and generals sitting in their comfy chairs do not see that the people getting killed are normal humans just like us. When an American life is lost, it sucks. But what they didn’t see is that a German dying in WWII or a Russian or Vietcong was not a win but equally tragic.

A family back in their respective homeland will mourn the loss. A partner will grieve the loss of their lover. The economy will lose what could’ve been a productive member of society.

Travel and world connection is so beautiful because it allows all of humanity to stop putting these ridiculous stereotypes of other groups of people in their mind.

The Russians are not evil. Their language may sound harsh to an English speaker (and all the ridiculous propaganda of us vs. them) but they love, celebrate, party, desire wealth, and prosperity just like the Americans.

They really are no different. They are just humans. Germans are just humans. Africans are.

Everyone everywhere is just human- and I’m grateful that we live in a world so connected than before because it’s becoming near-impossible to hate another group of people because the world is becoming so integrated.

The compounding effect of war is why we must do all that we can to avoid another war of any kind, anywhere. If I lose my brother to enemy gunfire, it would only be natural to hate them- and then I may hurt one of them, but then their brothers will hate me… and thus the cycle continues.

If we remain a globally connected planet, then this hatred will be hard to hold onto. Our societies will be so interconnected that we won’t be able to hate each other.

This doesn’t mean we’ll lose our culture or values as nations. It just means that we will have enough respect, understanding, and love to prevent ridiculous tribal mentality from ever arising again.

In many places in the world being a foreigner or having foreigners is still not common. We don’t get enough exposure to other cultures & people, so it’s too easy to say “we are this and they are that.” That’s not how it really is- we’re all just human.

I have no tolerance now for people that initiate such ridiculous mentality. When people say that “Russians are this” or “Americans are that” or whatever, it just reveals a deep insecurity in the individual. They have no understanding or connection with anyone outside their own tribe.

When I meet people, I don’t see a label of “American” or “Russian” or “German” or “Spanish” or any other of the great nations. We are all just humans. Everyone looks human, acts human, and is human.

Last month in Bali I got sick for about a week, so I purchased a childhood favorite game to pass the time- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

While I enjoyed playing it, a part of me felt sickened. I realized that games such as this continued this “America vs. Russia” mentality. It made “us” the good guys and “them” the bad guys.

The game was fun, but sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder about the video game character’s lives. I empathized with “the enemy” because even though they were shooting at us, they had a family back home, and also thought they were on the right side.

In fact, the game was a completely different experience than when I played it growing up- when I grew up I enjoyed the action, shooting, and adventure.

But this time I paid attention to the story, and the story made the game even more painful.

Roughly speaking (and I could be wrong), the Americans were trying to infiltrate a terrorist organization to get rid of their leader, but then the terrorist pulled a trick on the Americans which led the Russians to think that America had attacked them, when really it was the terrorists that attacked Russia.

Naturally Russia attacked USA, and thus began the war. Even though the Russians were still slightly the “bad guys,” it was surprising how hard the developers tried to make a story that made sense in a way.

I wrote this last part of the video game just to say that as fun as they can be, a game such as this also feels wrong in a way because it still makes Americans right and Russians wrong. It humanizes one group of people while isolating another group, and making the other group appear immoral and inhuman.

That’s not the truth. We are all just humans, and the only enemy is the darkness that pulls us back into the tribal mentality of “us vs them.”

The truth that none of us realized was that we were all playing the game of life on the same team all along, but the team had a fight and broke into sub-teams that competed against each other.

The real problems that our one team of humanity had to face such as the environment, creating abundance, prosperity, and happiness fade to the background when we can’t even work as a team.

That’s the big joke of it all: we are all just humans playing on the same team, but we got so trapped in our illusion of “us vs them” that we forgot there were greater things to battle- together.

We are all just humans, and nothing else. Let’s treat everyone like that.

-Michael

Chiang Mai Feelings

I just arrived in Chiang Mai, and it’s exciting- walking around this city I stayed in 6 months ago, it’s all the same yet I’m in such a different state of mind it’s so different.

Before the loud bikes, lack of normal sidewalks, and other differences between Europe/USA & Asia really bothered me. I thought I was above culture shock being a world traveler for so long, but now I am humbled to know that it doesn’t matter how long you travel for- it can get you.

I was heartbroken then, and I also had a huge surgery to take care of in Chiang Mai. It was a dark period of my life, my own personal Winter.

Now I’m in my Spring, or Summer perhaps, things are looking up- business growth, skills, purpose, girls, healing, it’s all coming together.

It feels almost like when I first started traveling. The dark feeling pulling me down is going away.

Now I feel young and free again, like anything is possible. What will happen during the month or two in Chiang Mai before I go to Bulgaria? Who will I meet? What will I see?

I stayed for 3 weeks before, but I feel like I saw nothing. I just stayed for a month and Bali and also felt like I saw nothing there.

I’m quite tired, and a bit irritable. It’s a funny mix of inspiration and irritability, as I hardly slept last night from excitement.

I now am wiser in my self-awareness, knowing that my irritability is not the place or me or my business or life- it’s just a bit of tiredness, and being locked in a plan is not fun either.

I used to think I was so invincible, that I could control my emotions, but now I realize you can’t- emotions do their own thing, and true freedom/meditation is just letting them be, holding in mind a true knowing of what’s true.

I can’t tell whether it’s the irritability or whether I need to go back to Bali, but I really miss Bali- now that I’m gone, I can feel the difference in vibe..

Not that Chiang Mai has bad vibes. Chiang Mai has great vibes, but it’s a different delicious flavor- my body craves for more of Bali, months more of Bali.

There is at least 2 months worth of stuff to do, I have friends to connect with again in Bali, and now I know the way of Bali (and Southeast Asia in general) so in a way I don’t feel ready to go to Bulgaria in June, but at the same time I can’t keep waiting- I miss my friends & life there, also.

This is the way of the traveler: to miss many places. To miss Montreal, Phoenix, Sofia, Bali, and Thailand and even more places and people all at the same time.

Bali really taught me how to enjoy the present moment- enjoy whatever dance you’re in. Goals are great, and everyone needs them, but the strange nuance of life is that you need to be present while you have goals.

So I focus on this moment, while also keeping in my peripheral where I’d like my business to go, and where I’d like to go to live.

Following your heart can feel scary because it takes you to the unknown. It shows you things, and demands growth. But it’s totally worth it.

My heart is scared for Chiang Mai. In a way the familiarity is nice, and there is a nostalgia from all the memories that I created here before.

At the same time, I feel sad because those times are gone- and I still have contacts in Bali. Who knows though, maybe some old acquaintances are here- now is the time to reach out.

I promised my heart that if after a week or a few days we aren’t feeling it, we’ll go back to Bali, even if it costs some money to do. Bali was SO amazing, I loved it so much!

And I didn’t even realize how amazing Bali was because I was coming out of my own personal darkness… now that I’m here, I realize how great there was- it’s not one big epic event or thing, it’s just the day to day that made it so amazing.

But I’m going to give Chiang Mai a 100% try. I owe that to myself. I first came here heartbroken, sad, in a shell, depressed, obsessed with money, going through a surgery, and so much more- now I’m young and free, healing, happier, and now I know the way of Southeast Asia.

For example, I knew where I might want to put my apartment in Chiang Mai- but I didn’t buy anything online because the Way in Southeast Asia is to look at things when here, and only book your first accommodation for a few days.

I do miss Bali. I also miss Bulgaria. I’m also excited to be here, and also a bit irritable from the flying and sleep deprivation.

But through it all, I’m feeling more and more relaxed and peaceful. Travel is teaching me to be here and now, nowhere else. Of course I keep in mind where I’m going, as should you (unless you need to wander a bit), but you only have THIS moment to choose where you’re going.

So here I am sitting in an old favorite restaurant, so excited to eat one of my favorite Thai dishes that I just couldn’t seem to find in USA- or it just wasn’t the same as eating it in Chiang Mai.

I love Thai food, and now I shall eat, so that’s all I should focused on- relaxed, one thing at a time, grateful for the food, grateful for the experience, grateful for everything, grateful for you.

Who knows what may happen. My heart may beg me to go back to Bali after a week. It may fall in love here. It may demand Bulgaria. One step at a time, enjoying the dance, that’s the beauty of life- you don’t know where it’s going, but it’s fun (if you let it be so).

-Michael

All In or All Out

When I took magic mushrooms for the first time over a year ago, I knew it would be deeply spiritual, but I never could’ve guessed just how important the messages would be to me.

I learned several key lessons in that first trip, which I wrote down, saved, and some of which I remind myself of to this today.

One of those lessons is this: all in, or all out.

All In or All Out

Life is full of decisions. You could eat at a million different restaurants, live in countless countries and countless cities, date countless people, and work too many jobs to fulfill a dozen lifetimes.

We each feel particularly called to something, which is our “heart” or “intuition.” It’s very important that we listen to it.

The whole Universe works to help you follow your own path, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Events which we consider “bad luck” could actually be events which are designed to change our course and bring us unknowingly to riches we deserve.

How many stories are there of someone getting fired, then finding what they are truly passionate in? Suddenly they feel so grateful for getting fired, otherwise they may be dying slowly on the 9-5 grind they never really wanted.

Sometimes though you face a crossroad where there isn’t a clear path. The choice is up to you.

You should always consult your heart, and if your intuition doesn’t say “no” to any of them, then try listen closely to see what feels better. Sometimes it doesn’t matter- but you still have to make a choice.

You can’t live with regrets though. Sometimes you follow your heart and not everything goes to plan, or something unexpected which we call “bad” happens.

Should you have not followed your heart? No because in following your heart, you often learn to listen deeper, and your heart becomes wiser in its decisions.

Sometimes your heart knows that it must go through some pain and growth or loss in order to get something which it wants. The heart wants what it wants, but it also wants you to feel good, creating conflict.

This is where success barriers come in- we avoid doing what we know we really must do.

With anything, you need to be “all in” or “all out.” If you make a decision, go all in with it in that moment- if you can’t, then maybe you should be all in for the other decision.

The problem with many, including sometimes myself, is that they make a decision but think of the other, or hold regrets, or always wonder “what if…”

One great way to make decisions is ask whether you’d regret something because you know that if you would not be all in for the other decision and regret not taking the other path then it is a path you truly must take.

I’m speaking even of the small things here- if you can’t be all in for eating Mexican food tonight, then why should you go eat Mexican sitting there wondering what Italian food might taste like on your tongue?

Sometimes we make a decision and there’s no clear path. There is no good answer. In these cases it still makes the best sense to go all in for one decision.

If you make a decision but don’t take responsibility for it, then you can only be bitter at the world for that it didn’t work out exactly as you desired.

If you make an uncertain decision certain, then you can be “all in” and fully responsible for the outcomes, even if you can’t control it completely.

In this way you become the captain of your life, guiding yourself through life. You listen to your heart, and you follow it, knowing that things may not always go as planned but that it’s your true path.

There may be nothing worse on this Earth than not following your true path.

To fail in the face of authenticity is to have earned yourself a wonderful experience of following your heart, an experience which may just lead to your treasure.

To fail in the face of inauthenticity is to have cut yourself twice- once for denying your heart, and once for failing also.

The pain of not following your heart is greater than any pain you could experience by following your heart.

The nagging feeling of your heart whispering “I want to do this” is enough to drive man mad.

For long I’ve ignored the next big step in my path, and now that I’m taking it, it feels scary, but I know that I am living true and that whatever fault may come it is for better.

There is risk, of course. I don’t say anything of the future, either- I will not say where my path will go, just that I think I know where it goes, and I believe that I’ll arrive where I desire to arrive.

Of course, the path may change to get there, but I have faith as long as I follow my heart everything will turn out- it always does.

Try to follow your heart, be all in for it. We both know you can’t be “all out,” for that is to not be alive, and you are here now for a reason. You know it intuitively.

Promise your heart you will listen to it, that you will do what it asks of you.

And when you need to make any decision, be all in or all out. Not fully down for it? Don’t do it.

If you are uncertain, choose to be all in because there is no other choice. It is pointless to take one weak step in either direction, when you could choose to take a step with power, even if you don’t know what the right decision is.

Fortune favors the bold, which requires you to be all in.

All in, or all out. Choose. Now.

Done.

-Michael