Paper or Purpose?
I met two beautiful girls recently. One is Valya, a very outgoing and enthusiastic 22-year-old English teacher; the other one is Katya, a laid back and adventurous 29-year-old who loves the outdoors. Both are amazing girls- fun, intelligent, gorgeous, they enjoy life and have so much going for themselves, yet both are a little bit confused about what to do with their own future. Neither one is sure that they have chosen the right way to make money, and both are aware of the fact that they don’t want to work a full-time job that drains away their soul.
I spent a couple of days on Olkhon Island thinking about this.
“If these two awesome chicks are confused in life, then what the hell is everybody else doing? Taking anti-depression pills or something?”
Here’s the problem- I think so many people find themselves lost, confused or unsure about what path to take because in order to survive in this world, most people think they have to work the majority of the time they spend awake. So most people want to find a way to make money that also satisfies them in one way or another. In other words, they try to combine working for money and living for a purpose.
The problem is that many people end up settling for a job that’s just okay, or a job that they don’t like at all. This job then takes up the majority of their time, they don’t get that much satisfaction or find much purpose in it, and since it takes up most of their time, they don’t find much purpose in life. They spend so much time working that when they’re not working they just need to relax and have no time to even think about what purpose they want to live for.
By purpose, I don’t mean “the meaning of life” in some spiritual or artificial sense. I mean that you have to live for something in order to get real fulfillment and satisfaction in life. You figure out what that something is yourself.
But it’s hard for people to even figure that out when they’re so busy and distracted by working to make money.
Here’s some of my story in a nutshell:
I left my mom’s house in New Jersey as soon as I finished high school and drove across North America to snowboard in Whistler, Canada. I went to Whistler because this was the only place in North America where you could snowboard in June. My purpose then: snowboarding. I didn’t want to live for anything else. I had so much passion for snowboarding that I took off alone and drove/ slept in my Honda Civic for ten days straight to get to Whistler.
When I got there, I met a whole bunch of other snow bums from all over the world whose purpose was also only to snowboard :) I met people from all over Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, you name it! And they all seemed to really love life. Why? Because they were doing what they wanted. Most of these people just worked some part time job to get enough money to continue to enjoy life. They didn’t care much about their means of making money because their lifestyle didn’t revolve around their jobs, it revolved around skiing or snowboarding :).
So I did that on and off for a few years but struggled to really do it freely because I couldn’t get my parents off my back about going to university.
I spent one winter season in Whistler and Tahoe, then backpacked through Mexico with a friend just for fun. Then I conformed to university and took some bullshit classes at the University of Utah (because snowboarding is great in Utah). But I couldn’t handle it or the Mormons, so I quit. Then I backpacked Australia with an Aussie boyfriend. And then conformed again, went to City College of New York. Mother was thrilled, I was bored as hell. I quit again after one semester. Went to Switzerland to snowboard. Then again, conformed and got into the University of Sydney.
This was interesting because I accidentally got into a new degree that was called “International and Global Studies.” Unlike in the other two universities, I started to study subjects that I was actually interested in, like global environmental issues, international cultural dilemmas and various other global and international problems. Basically, I started to learn about how fucked up the world was from an institutional point of view.
Of course, I couldn’t handle more than a couple of semesters of that either. This time because it was too depressing. I couldn’t cope with so much first-hand proof of how destructive the whole system was. I felt like I always knew that the world was fucked up, but this kind of evidence from a “prestigious” institution was almost overbearing. I needed to see kindness and beauty again.
I quit. I traveled through the middle of Australia with an Aboriginal friend, backpacked Indonesia for 2 months by myself, lived on a sailboat with a crazy skydiver in New Zealand (who is now the first paraplegic that has single handed a sailboat across the Pacific Ocean). Then I spent a season snowboarding in Taos, NM, hitched across the U.S., traveled in the boonies of California, went to Baja, Mexico, then flew back to New Zealand for another snowboarding season. I did all of this with very little money by the way (and I’ve left out trips between semesters), I’ll explain the details in my book.
Then I went back to Australia to finish the damn degree to get my parents off my back.
I finished with a degree of International and Global Studies in 2014. This was my holy day of freedom!
“Now,” I thought, “I can really be free to travel around the world for as long as I want and my freaken family will no longer give me any shit about it!”
I did a season snowboarding in Tahoe, then went to the Caribbean and sailed a boat from St. Martin to Aruba, then lived in the South Coast of Australia for a few months, then in Indonesia for 4 months doing a divemaster internship. After that, I traveled through Sri Lanka, then Hawaii, then hitchhiked around Eastern Europe and did a snowboarding season in Austria.
… And that was when I started second guessing my traveling.
By then I had become the master of the job game. I was pretty good at snowboarding. I figured out how to heavily minimize my working hours and was confident that I could travel almost anywhere in the world with very little money. But there was one question lingering in the back of my mind.
I had heavy arguments about everything with my stepfather, especially about my lifestyle. He was persistent in trying to convince me to settle down and start some kind of career for money; he could never get very far with those silly arguments, but this one question really stood out to me. He asked, “what is the purpose of being a snowboarding/surfing/scuba diving bum?”
I thought about this for years :). In fact, it kind of ruined snowboarding for me a little :D (although I still love it as a sport ;)).
I didn’t have an answer for him or for myself. What was the purpose? The best I could come up with was that it was fun and much better than wasting your life working for money.
But is not doing something you think is wrong enough to give you purpose in life? Is simply having fun purpose enough?
When I was younger, snowboarding was all the purpose I needed. Then I found purpose in traveling. Traveling was never about relaxing on a nice beach; I traveled to learn something- to learn about the world we live in. And I still keep this purpose in mind because we never stop learning.
When I was in university the purpose of my life was simply to pass those damn classes (Sydney Uni is hard :) ️)- this + my job took up all of my time and energy. Every once in a while, all of my focus and energy goes to playing the stupid “job game”, and I lose time to think about purpose. Then there were things like diving, sailing, surfing and so on, which were really fun and consumed my life for a few months at a time.
So it’s really easy to distract yourself from looking for a greater purpose in life. All you have to do is have a busy schedule or lots of fun friends.
But when I shut the noise and spend some time alone in the mountains or the forest, then I have time to think. This is important- give yourself time to think.
The more I thought, the more guilty I felt.
What purpose can you find in a world where millions of people and the planet that we depend on are being exploited for money? Where people are systematically turned into working zombies? In a world where children die of hunger every day? A world filled with inequality, where soldiers die for power created through imagination?
These facts gave me enough reason to say, “fuck it all, let me just enjoy life. We will all die out one day, maybe soon, and the rest of the life on our planet will be better off that way.”
But when I see somebody that has devoted their entire life to studying and redesigning the entire system, and has actually come up with realistically attainable solutions that I know we need to at least try to work towards… Then I start to feel really guilty for just having fun. And I think deeper about ‘purpose.’
I’ve always felt content in my adult life but true fulfillment and satisfaction comes from living for a greater purpose. What greater purpose can you want to live for other than to make our own planet- our only home- a decent and sustainable place? How can our purpose in life not be to help our own species climb out of the slums? And to find real solutions for the environmental disasters we are causing?
So my greatest journey began just recently, when I joined the Venus Project and found out about TROM. And this journey is less about traveling than it is about expanding my mind.
These two projects gave me real purpose. Through them, I’m learning more about myself and my world than ever before. They push my thoughts and help me understand my own existence. They caused me to make a plan- come back to Russia. Start a blog. Write a book. Then travel on- this time not just to learn, but also to spread ideas. This gives me purpose that’s not centered around myself, but aims to help others. -And that was the only thing I was really missing.
I’ve never felt as strong a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in life as I do right now. I know exactly what I’m living for, and I think that I was only able to figure this out because I separated my lifestyle from my means of making money. I played a mental game and concentrated on education and enjoying life, rather than on “making a living.”
Right now, I’m still living almost completely off of my savings from Hawaii (I quit in March, 2017) and I have no idea how I’m going to make money when I start running low again- but that’s not important to me.
Think about any great inventor, musician or very creative person. They’re passionate about what they do, and money doesn’t drive their passion- so don’t think that it will drive yours!
Tio didn’t make this video for money-
Jacque and Roxanne didn’t make the Venus Project for money-
So here’s my advice:
1. Separate purpose in life and making money.
Make ‘purpose’ the number one thing to work towards, not money. If whatever drives you can make you money as well, then that’s great! Just make sure to make the drive your priority, not the money.
In other words, Don’t waste your life working for money. If you’re not sure how you could possibly do that, maybe this could help.
2. Do what you want to do.
Don’t let money be an excuse that stops you from doing what you want in life. Scavenge up money whatever way you can, but don’t worry too much about money. Know what you need to survive with- not money, but food, water and sometimes shelter :) Learn to manage your money well and use it on doing what you want.
3. Join the movement.
You shouldn’t be deprived of finding purpose in life because we are incapable of intelligently managing ourselves on our own planet. We have all the resources and technology that we need to create a world in which all people can prosper without exploiting each other or our own planet. A world in which people do not look for purpose through a means of making money.
Read this book.
And “The Best That Money Can’t Buy” by Jacque Fresco.
Or watch some videos if you’re not much of a reader ;)