A life unleashed, living the life of a world traveler

It was at that moment, surrounded by an angry gang of taxi drivers, at a Port City in Borneo, that I realised I had brought this situation on myself. I realised I could continue this stupid game of who is right and who is wrong, to stand their in the searing tropical heat, still loaded with my backpack. To let that anger energy surge through my body, like a crazed warrior of old. To take this destructive path to it’s bitter end, out of pure pigheadedness, or…. to walk away. To accept what is, not what I want, but what is.

After 10 months of traveling South East Asia, of deciding this will be my lifestyle until I have filmed the whole world, this was one of my biggest lessons. That in the end, it is all a game, there is nothing worth getting angry about. That wherever you are, everything you know, you think, you believe, all stems from your own upbringing, your own culture. And that to survive, in another culture, you must forget all that is known, all those silly little rules of etiquette and manners, and just observe.

“Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Bruce Lee

What makes a person want to leave their home country and explore the world? I have asked many expats this question and the answers tend to be the same. The search for something better, the feeling there is more to life than what they grew up with. For myself, I can’t explain my obsession with needing to see the world. And it is an obsession, that takes over everything; career, relationships, all the rules of the game, such as saving for one’s retirement. I just know that ever since I was a child I’ve felt the need to experience the world, with my own two eyes, to try and understand how things work from my own perspective.

“It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.”
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

The biggest fear for me was how would I survive, if I don’t work the 9 to 5, climb the ladder of promotion. And I suppose what I have realised is that no one has any certainty in anything! And what is the point of doing some shitty job you don’t like just because you have an unfounded fear that if you don’t you will end up in poverty? One of the great skills one learns on the road is the ability to adapt. I’ve found it is always good to have a plan B, as things don’t always go as expected. This is such a valuable lesson in life and work; to be flexible and ready to change plans at a moment’s notice, when circumstances demand such versatility.

I’ve met a lot of fascinating people on the road, digital nomads making money from all kinds of ways and means. Playing the stock market, online gambling. I remember one in particular, an young English lad, not quite 25. He did all the right things, went to uni, paid it off with part time jobs and when his study was finished, the golden job at the end of the road was no where to be found. He felt cheated by the system, and without many options found a way, via his interest in online poker, to escape the depressed UK job market. He studied the top players, researched their earnings and then in a leap of faith he moved to Chang Mai to set up an international gambling den made up of other online forum members keen on an overseas adventure. A mansion and swimming pool, a maid and motorbike, a motley crew of Westerners found they were making more money than they had ever dreamed of, for one quarter the cost of living in their own countries. “I felt I was cheating the system, I just could not believe things could be so good” confessed the young Yorkshire lad.

“To destroy a man, give him everything he desires”

What would happen if you didn’t have to do anything, if you didn’t have to work, you didn’t have to raise children? If you had complete and utter freedom. I tried this! I cut myself loose from the bounds of my own community, making a home in the borneo jungle. I lived the life of a bohemian artist imbibing in a chaotically destructive lifestyle. I became the wild man of Borneo and my work reflected this. Nothing was holding me back, no one was stopping me from doing exactly as I pleased.
Excess, Decadence! The rise and fall of the Roman empire, the french nobility before the revolution!
I looked into my heart of darkness, and there was a void, an empty space. I was bored with doing whatever I wanted, I needed some meaning. Instead of looking in, I needed to look out!

“People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing.”
Joe Strummer

There is nothing better than arriving in a strange town, and having a passionate stranger give you a tour. Technology, the internet provides the introductory letter of old. When it works, there is a joy in sharing something people enjoy. I suppose this shallow pleasure is the meaning in my trip now. It’s not delivering babies or nursing orphans, but I’m following my passion and who knows where that will lead. Teenagers want to save the world, adults want to find a way to live in it!

I still have my dark moments about my nomadic lifestyle decision, I still have fears that Im going backwards, that one day I will just become that strange bearded homeless man on the periphery of society, unable to reconcile human behaviour with human ideals. I still wonder whether the world really is as dangerous as they say. So far, so good. My belief still holds true that wherever I go, I will find good people willing to meet up with a traveling man, wanting to document their story. The journey continues…..

About admin

Mark Shea is a video producer and trainer and specializes in documentary and travel/tourism related content. His youtube channel is one of youtube’s most successful travel partner channels.
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15 Responses to A life unleashed, living the life of a world traveler

  1. I love this post Mark, but I must fiercely disagree with you on one point:

    “And it is an obsession, that takes over everything; career, relationships, all the rules of the game, such as saving for one’s retirement.”

    This is NOT true, as this does NOT have to be the case. In fact, I’m paying of over $40,000 in debt in four years, all while traveling, investing, saving, putting away money for retirement, AND even working on my career.

    How? it’s all about being creative and truly out-of-the-box lifestyle design. I will sacrifice working full time as a translation manager for a company for five years just so I can be a 110% debt-free, have savings in case anything happens, invest, and truly solidify my nomadic career.

    By having all this experience, it’ll be much easier for me to find clients and be able to work on the road, AS MY OWN BOSS, translating. I won’t have to worry about money, or needing to work odd jobs here and there, because I prepped (beforehand) accordingly.

    I’ll still be doing what I love (translating) AND traveling. All while getting paid for it and even having enough to put away for retirement so I can take care of myself once some older!

    Is this sacrificing my younger years? No. I just sacrificed a lot for a very short period of time in order to become financially secure AND still be able to enjoy the life I ALWAYS wanted. Even people that go on to travel indefinitely still sacrifice for some time in order to SAVE and have enough money to be on the road. So in a way, I don’t even see any difference between what they do and what I’m doing. Except, of course, that what I’m doing is quite different from what a lot of them are going.

    Am I saying they’re doing it wrong? No, not at all. What I’m trying to say is that you can still flourish in your career, truly LIVE life, all while not having to worry about money AND even saving, investing, and putting away for retirement ON THE ROAD!!!

    EVERYTHING is possible in life, and am a strong believer that indeed, WE CAN HAVE IT ALL. it simply takes some thorough planning, sacrificing, and hard work-I’d just like *anything* in life

    If there’s will, there’s a way!!! ;)

    Cheers,

    Maria Alexandra

  2. money wise…no problems
    relationship wise….it is very difficult, unless you find someone who also wishes to see the world

  3. No money problems, but are you still sacrificing putting away money for later? Saving is important no matter where you are. No money problems now, but could mean money problems LATER. It’s all about being careful and responsible no matter what
    Relationship wise–you always need someone who fits, whether you are a nomad or not. I’ve known of people who deal with long-distance relationships as the other travels frequently. Is it for everyone? NO. But it works for hem. SO just because one is a nomad doesn’t mean a relationship can’t work. Is all about finding the right person *for you* nomads are not doomed to a life without committed relationships. You are talking to one who has found a happy medium ;)

    Again I’ll say — if there’s will, there’s a way. If you don’t agree with me, is because you have simply made different decisions. And if you’re happy with those, that’s ok too. It is your life after all ;) I just had to point out that it doesn’t always have to be *only* way to aspiring nomads. They do have options, and I wanted to show them more possibilities

  4. Michaela says:

    Your story is wondering to think on when you’re trying to figure out what the heck to do with your life. Many people have a tight grip on their security blankets. Your post inspires them to let go.

  5. andy says:

    In my experience when travelling by yourself you will have far deeper travelling experiences, visit more places and meet infinitely more people, but at times get lonely … travelling with a partner is great for sharing experiences, emotional support and comfortable, but at times can be a stress you dont need …
    Seems like the ideal could be to find someone who travels with you for only some of the time,
    good luck with both Mark!

  6. Angela says:

    You are an intelligent person Mark..You have achieved what alot of people have not in their lifetime..Yes u need to be shrewd and understand that being altruistic is only possible in this life to a certain extent..You need to be smart, do ur sums and think ahead..i agree with the Nomadic Translator..Anything is possible if it is sought after and organised to your benefit…in “every” aspect…Choose ur life, live it, and allow ur true feelings get the better of you..because if you ask questions..you will be surprised at the answers..Trust ur instincts Mark..listen to the reality of how u truly feel and what u want..ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE..if its really in ur heart..

  7. Florence says:

    Wow such and experience with you.
    I have actually learn a lot from reading your article.I wish you all the best with your dreams!
    Love this
    Flo

  8. Nice to see you read my ramblings Florence :)

  9. Hajiah Lamat says:

    Keep it up mark. Live and enjoy your life. You will get what you wanted.Nothing is impossible. I enjoyed reading your adventures.Wish you all the best!

  10. Angela says:

    Im glad ur bringing the world to us “Overlander” style Mark.If u truly believe then u will never fail…Story telling is the most unselfish way to communicate to the world.. U do it well..Keep the stories coming..:)

  11. steffie says:

    Hey Mark !
    I DO want to see the world soon and not wait to be crashed by a car crossing the road while working hard for saving money in case i might get older enough to get retired !!!
    I’m 100% with you !
    Hit the road again and again and you’ll find someone worth it who’ll make want to settle down in a nomadic way of living ! :)
    Hugs and Bliss !
    Steffie

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