The sound of an ukulele woke me up and I went outside of my dorm at the Healing House in Cusco. Rich was sitting in the garden, the sun made his skin shine, he was playing „Over the rainbow“. What a wonderful way to wake up.
During my time traveling in Central and South America I met a lot of interesting people and wonderful conversations. Rich was definitely an extra ordinary person, to got to know. I was very impressed by his story and inspired by our conversations.
So I asked him a few questions to share the answers on my blog.
1) Lovely Rich, you practicly lived the American Dream.
Then three years ago, you left Los Angelos with a one way ticket to Bali.
Why did you leave? Can you give us a summary of your story?
I had worked in the car business for over 12 years, after having a nice house and car and everything you expect out of the „American dream“ I was very unhappy in life. I felt like something was missing. I felt there was greater in life I was meant to do. I was going through some health problems, overweight, drinking, smoking and I basically said I was done with that lifestyle. It sounds silly, but in my own way, I wanted to somehow change the world and truly make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to follow my heart, I wanted to love. Up to that point in my life, I’ve never fallen in love, because I didn’t know how to love. I booked a one way ticket to Bali over three years ago and have been traveling since. This was a perfect time in my life to be challenged by the universe to let go of who I thought I was suppose to be and embrace who I am.
2)Almost like in a movie. You learned a lot on your travels so far.
What are the three most important things you learned?
Follow your heart and trust yourself.
Beauty is all around us if we really pay attention.
Live a life true to you, not what’s expected of you.
3) I will write that down and hang it on a wall in my room.
What role did selflove play for your transformation?
One of the first books someone recommended to me my first week in Bali was “ Gifts of Imperfection“ by Brené Brown which talks about self love, vulnerability, and living whole heartedly. One of the quotes in the book: „Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is in reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. – Margaret Young These were things I needed to learn. I was fortunate to have these „angels“ come Into my life and teach me. I feel it’s nearly impossible to fully love without loving yourself first. We have to be kind and gentle to ourselves. Learning that we are perfect the way we are, right now, and completely understanding that is a key to self love. There are things we can certainly improve in ourselves, but we are perfect the way we are. „How much we know and understand is crucially important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves“ – Brenè Brown
And we cannot give away what we don’t have, love.
4) I fully agree on that.
If young people are chasing „the american dream“ – what does it trigger in you now?
What is the American dream? Nice house? Car? 2.1 kids? Debt? Stress? I think the American dream is different from my parents generation. Each family and culture growing in America has a different opinion of what the American dream is. In the end, I think we ultimately just want to me happy. One of my favorite quotes, „Live a life true to you, not what’s expected of you“, that would be my definition of the American dream and for that matter, anyone else in the world. For young people, I would advise them to continue chasing their dreams, follow their heart and to travel. I’ve met so many young traveler’s from countries from the rest of the world that seem to be more mature because travel gives you so much more life experience. I feel that they would learn more through traveling than they would learn in a classroom.
5) Lots of people are going traveling now, leaving everything behind,
doing a yoga teacher training. It is kind of a trend.
During my trip in South America, I met a few in my opinion „superficial“ hippies.
What do you think about that?
I’ve definitely run into those „superficial“ and „sprit junkie“ people in my travels and I want to let them live the way they want to live, only if, it truly makes them happy. Unfortunately I’ve met some people that I think have taken it too far, for example, I’ve met someone that has done over 100 San Pedro¹ ceremonies in about two years times, and I hear her talk about the connection to spirit, how much better it makes her feel, the emotional releases etc., but I think it’s excessive. If you haven’t gotten shit figured out after, say after the 30th ceremony, you have some deeper shit going on. I know it sounds judgmental, but that person needs help, and San Pedro isn’t going to help her. I’m really behind people traveling, trying to find „themselves“, doing the yoga teacher training, these are all things I did and I’m in a much better place in my life for it now. I’ve met the „superficial“ or fake hippies and sometimes it bothers me, because they don’t practice how they live with how they say they live. I’m all about people living their lives, as long as their happy and not hurting other people.
6) Life is a ride as we all know. How do you deal with downs?
I was going through a dark place in my life about a month ago. I just gotten my heart broken, I was partying really heavily, and then I injured my ankle and basically didn’t have a lot of movement for about 10 days. I really got depressed, binge watched Netflix all day, felt vulnerable and really helpless. Once my ankle started to feel a little bit better, I went back into my yoga and meditation practice and focused on being present, it helped bring me back into a positive mindset. Life is about balance, I know if I’m having a bad day, good days will come. Keeping a positive mind and attitude always helps. „Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it“
7) Balance – I also discovered that as a key thing in life.
Following your true calling, also means to listen to your intution, gut feeling and „signs“ along the way. Do you have tips how to strengthen ones intution and connection to your inner desires?
Life throws signs at us all the time, but sometimes in our busy and hectic lives we fail to see them. It could be a song, a sign post, a poster, a billboard, a commercial, anything really that helps point us in the right direction our intuition and heart is feeling. When I normally need to make a big decision, I meditate on it and surprisingly it comes to me pretty quickly, because our heart and intuition already know, but the meditation helps quite our busy minds to slow down and then the answer comes quickly. Slow down, be present and start paying attention.
8) If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be?
I think we could solve all the worlds problem with one simple thing…love.
It’s that simple. What couldn’t we solve if we all learned to love each other?
9) Is there anything else you want to share with us?
In the famous words of Bob Marley, „Everything’s gonna be alright“
What are your experiences and learnings from traveling?
Feel free to comment in english or german : )
Lots of love & light
¹ – San Pedro is a cactus that contains mescaline. It is a hallucinogen alkaloid. The psychedelic substance is used for spiritual ceremonies in South America. It is a part of the culture and has a long and old tradition.
As far as I know, it is legal in South American Countries.