Beyond Imagination

I traveled 1,300 miles by foot, car, subway, and two airplanes to watch a spaceship blast off into space. Was it fun? Absolutely. But was my decision to spend time, money, and resources to watch a machine carry humans into space really just another small vote for poverty?

A child is painfully aware, if only subconsciously, that it knows very little. The young brain does not see the world and say, "I know everything; I don't need to learn that." It doesn't make assumptions. A young brain is infinitely curious. Always exploring, always learning, always expanding its horizons and converting the unknown into something that makes sense.

Scientists call this brain plasticity, our brains' ability to evolve, change, and grow based on the experiences and the environments we're exposed to. As we age, our brain becomes less plastic and begins to harden as we convince ourselves that we know. We know how language works. We know how people work. We know how the world works.

But when we expose our brain to something new -- a different set of people, an awkward social situation, a reality that was previously deemed science fiction -- our brain is forced to cope with this new truth. It's forced to grow. It's forced to return to its plasticity and expand.

Travel is considered one of the best ways to learn and grow because you cannot hold onto your assumptions. Unfamiliar situations force you to reconsider what you know, leaving you with no choice but to learn. Your brain expands and grows to hold this new knowledge.

We assimilate knowledge through observation and experimentation. Children seem to know this instinctively and use their curiosity and higher risk tolerance to experiment and try new things.

But as we grow older and stop experimenting and observing new things, our brain starts to decay. Instead of expanding and increasing our potential, our brain eats away at itself, limiting our perception and caging us inside.

Imagination is the easiest way to prevent stagnation, but it can only take us so far. Witnessing firsthand what humans are capable of achieving expands our vision and our perspective in a way that imagination alone cannot.

Is it important to follow space exploration? Is it important to go out of our way to witness our incredible feats of engineering and creativity?

Absolutely.

Watching the space shuttle Discovery launch six humans into outer space wasn't just fun. It helped expand my brain. It helped me appreciate the collective potential we possess as species.

I had seen videos of the poverty in India, but it wasn't until I was physically there that it became real and changed who I was inside. Likewise, I had seen videos of previous shuttle launches, but it wasn't until I witnessed one with my own two eyes that I learned to appreciate the significance of reaching for the stars.

It's important to learn about what the human race has achieved. It's important to follow the advancements of our race and wrap our heads around what each step means for humanity.

We all play a key role in our evolution and each one of us possesses an enormous amount of potential that can be used to help move us forward.

Could it be that we've limited our view and our perception so much that we're unable to perceive, process, and otherwise comprehend the high levels of intelligence within our reach?

Could it be that we're so caught up in our little view of the world, so wrapped up in our ever-hardening brains, that we fail to see what we're individually and collectively capable of achieving?

It was just a little over a hundred years ago that we were using horses for transportation. Now we're communicating across the planet using tiny handheld devices, zooming around in various forms of mechanized transportation, and building machines that carry us into outer space.

If humans like you and me are capable of putting people in space, why can't we bring everyone on Earth up to an acceptable standard of living? Why can't we give every child a good education and a warm place to sleep?

We can.

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    • Thanks, Ricky!

      When I think about living a long, healthy life, I’m always reminded of what I’ve heard centenarians say when asked what their secret is: “I don’t have time to die”, or “I just keep moving so death won’t catch up with me”.

  1. Raam, That was profound yet simple. When you said: “If humans like you and me are capable of putting people in space, why can’t we bring everyone on Earth up to an acceptable standard of living? Why can’t we give every child a good education and a warm place to sleep? We can.” You’re right…we can. Then why hasn’t it been done? One word…selfishness. It’s like you’ve come to the edge and you’re looking up at this mountainous wall. You’re no longer naive about what’s causing all the world’s problems anymore. So what can defeat selfishness? A life of love where people are joyfully sharing what they have so others needs can be met. Also, where people work together using their talents and abilities so that everyone can be freed up to love. In other words everyone doesn’t have to worry about paying the bills, so it frees others up to do what they were created to do…love. When people see this life of love and sharing, they know that’s how we were created to live in the first place. There’s a point in each one of our lives that we come to the revelation that we need others just to live a simple life. What do we do with that understanding? It’s up to us.

    • Hi John, thank you for the comment!

      I think the “problem” is a little more complex than selfishness. I think selfishness plays a big role, but I think it’s also a matter of circumstances, lack of communal awareness, and lack of resources, motivation, and support.

      That’s why I think it’s so important for each individual to become their own support group, connecting and sharing with others. It’s easy to live in our own little bubble and talk about what should change and how we think it should happen. But stepping outside our comfort zone — stepping up to the plate and leading — that takes courage.

      We all have a bit of leader inside us. Even those of us who don’t want to lead, still have the ability to inspire and motivate others even if indirectly. And the beautiful thing is, I think we can all inspire, motivate, and lead while living a simple life (the Internet gives us incredible communication power).

  2. Man Raam, your words are profound. I like what you say.

    We, people and governments, have the resources to change the “landscape” of modern economies. We can change our paradigms, we can and enact laws for the betterment of people that live on this planet. We have the capabilities to give everyone on this planet the basic needs to live and be happy.

    I have a friend that understands these things, and the role governments of the world can play in reliving the suffering of the people of this earth.

    Below is a little of what my friend says regarding the world economies:

    “If one is required to work to have money to buy a machine that can do for the person what machines were designed by humans to do, what job is one going to do in order to get the money to buy the machine?
    This is a big pit we are digging, now isn’t it?
    This scenario is exactly what is taking place upon this earth.
    Slowly, the jobs are disappearing as technology and machines produce the profits and do the work that used to be done by humans. And the more advanced technology becomes, the less jobs there will be available … especially when machines can build machines.
    The Middle East is exploding with uprisings that are happening because of one underlying cause: there are not enough jobs for the people.
    Saudi Arabi realized the precarious nature of the events and guess what its government did? Yeppers! Initiated some basic principles of the Worldwide United Foundation.
    Check out this news story:
    Saudi Arabia opens its wallet to stave off protests
    What?
    You mean they started giving people “an unprecedented economic package that will provide Saudis interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and sweeping debt forgiveness”?
    They almost got it right, but not quite. Giving out loans when there are no jobs available to make money to pay back the loans isn’t smart, UNLESS, you initiate “sweeping debt forgiveness” again once the loan becomes due. However, providing interest free home loans will spur the desire to have a house built, but will still not be effective when the people taking out the loan can’t pay the principle either. Interest free loans are useless. Most consumers don’t care how much interest they have to pay, but are more concerned with making the monthly payment and want it as low as they can get it.
    Hey, your Holiness Kings of Arabia, listen up!
    Instead of sweeping debt forgiveness, why make the people go into debt in the first place? Why not give them free housing so they don’t have to commit themselves to a loan and then stress about how they are going to pay for it? Sure, they’ll take the low interest loans, but when Your Highness comes a knocking for payment on the principal, and they still don’t have a job to pay for it, you going to have to forgive the debt anyway or the people are going to protest and shove your crown up your … well … you get the picture. 🙂
    Okay, then, America, listen up!
    The worst thing that President George W. Bush did was to change the bankruptcy laws that made it harder to file bankruptcy, which is nothing more or less than “sweeping debt forgiveness.”
    The best thing that the writers of the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament did was to introduce a seventh year jubilee when all debts were forgiven (see Deuteronomy 15:1-4). After bankruptcy and the “year of jubilee,” a person is free to go into debt again.
    Going into debt means that people spend money they don’t have. Spending money means supporting the economy by demanding goods and services, thus precipitating supply according to the demand. People need credit to borrow money to buy things that they don’t really need, but want. But without credit, the economy fails.”

    If people are interested, there is a simple answer to the problems of the world:

    http://marvelousworkandawonder.com/3DPublications/WUFPlan/pageflip.html

    • Thank you for sharing that, Mike!

      I’m of the solid belief that the answer to equality lies not in governments or in policies, but rather with each individual. We need to educate ourselves so we understand what’s going on. Too many people (admittedly myself included) know so little about economics and how their choices affect the world around them.

      When we understand the repercussions of our actions, we will be better equipped to make educated decisions. Living a simple lifestyle is a great start because it limits the the negative long-term repercussions, whatever they may be.

    • Mike , I briefly applaud your enthusiasm and desire to make some sense of non-sense. Money , or accrued wealth , is simply one tool of the few available to mankind in our struggle to exist. A skill or talent , the ability to heal or teach, or provide protection from harm and hunger are distinct from money. What we need to address and debate is value and worth , be it inherent or sustained.
      I believe we have little time to change our current posture and acts , our resemblence to a virus killing its host . Our beliefs and traditions must be scrutinized for worth and not self-serving desire. We need to enrich others resulting in potential of true growth.
      Is gold that valuable, that worthwhile , its pursuit is inherently toxic providing premature decay and death. Yes it has practical uses , but the majority of gold is used in self-adornment.
      The Middle-east is in flux due to more basic than jobs , food. Prices are rising and not relative to reason. This will becoming more widespread. America is not immune , in this country food must entertain not simply sustain. This makes no sense , over-value has a cost. Cost is debt. All debts must be settled by day’s end. If not my actual value at the start of next day is instantly less to all others.

  3. Dear Raam,

    I think there is a difference between logical thinking and even creative thinking (which might build rockets and send humanity into space)….and Awareness of our inescapable relationship with the world around us (and within us), or our awareness of (and empathy toward) other people, beings, water, air, soil….and then seeing these things as our Greater Self, an extension of ourselves. As ourselves, without separation. Interconnected.

    So basically, I think there is a difference between intelligence and awareness. OR…one might say that expansive, all encompassing awareness is true intelligence.

    Logical conceptual thinking can be useful, but also very limited. It may lack interconnectedness on many or all levels.

    When we recognize that what we have perceived as “other”, is actually ourselves, we then begin to develop empathy. Or likewise, when we begin to love ourselves, have compassion, forgiveness, empathy toward ourselves, we often begin to empathize with and love All that exists (what I call our “Greater Self”).

    Studies have been done at the University of Rochester by Dr. Netta Weinstein, which showed that people who simply watched slides of beautiful nature scenes—when asked questions afterward—were more benevolent toward community, and nicer people. Those who watched city-scape slides were more ego-centric, focused on financial success, becoming “known” etc.

    Another thought, as a child I was very aware of what I knew, and yes, very curious (I STILL am), I saw what was true intelligence and what was not. This early knowing and insight made my schoold years exceedingly painful. School was deathly boring for me. I knew at that age that Earth was intelligent, and that there was a MUCH larger community. They FEEL these things. Most kids do. And if listened to and confirmed by adults (who have not forgotten) and “see”, not only the child, but these realities, the adult can confirm for the child what it already knows. But today most children are indoctrinated into a “system” that dumbs them waaaay down.

    Our current limited perception of children says more about us adults than about children. Just as human’s current limited perception of the intelligence of nature says more about us than nature’s lack of intelligence.

    I’m currently working on a documentary that explores some of these insights and I find it so rewarding. So thank you dear Raam, for inspiring more. You are a gem.

    As always, I so enjoy you.
    Hugs,
    Robin

    • Robin, thank you for your beautiful addition to this topic!

      I agree that there is a difference between logical thinking and awareness of interconnectedness, however I think the two require each other to fully realize the whole (“all encompassing awareness is true intelligence”). The beauty of outer space (regardless of how we get there or what logical thinking is required) is that we’re forced to change our perspective to one that encompasses all life.

      Just as it’s important to get out of our selfish little egotistical bubble (whether from an individual standpoint or country-wide standpoint), we also need to step outside the bubble of Earth and realize the importance of what we have… realize that we’re this tiny community of life floating around alone in an enormous black sea.

      It’s so easy to get complacent and consume resources (as is already happening), fight amongst ourselves over pointless things (again, wars everywhere), and otherwise just forget that, whether we like it or not, we’re all one big family.

      The quest for space — the actual science of getting from here to there — automatically brings us closer together because we realize it isn’t about America or China or India. It’s about human beings. (There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, but we’re past the cold war days.) Those of us who are not even looking for that interconnectedness automatically discover it when we come together for such a big goals (as I experienced last year the first time I tried watching the launch).

      There’s also the dry, emptiness of outer space that makes us appreciate life. Astronauts returning from missions would often describe the smell of air on Earth as sweet, grassy, and alive. How many of us can describe Earth’s air that way?

      We absolutely need to rediscover our connection to Earth and to all life that exists, but I think we also need to recognize what advances in technology mean to the bigger picture and how we can use them to bring ourselves closer to realizing and experiencing that interconnectedness that already binds us all.

      I’m so thankful that you share your thoughts here and I really look forward to hearing more about the documentary! 🙂

  4. Abundance Thinking at its best! I look forward to the day you personally put something in place to fix things, because I am absolutely certain that you will. Your blog posts are the sketches, the prelim drawings and plans. Something is clearly afoot in that brain of yours and it’s beautiful!

    • Thank you, Meg! I love the idea of my blog posts being sketches. 🙂 That gives me a great way to think about my writing from a long-term perspective (which is something I often struggle with).

  5. Raam,

    I find this a very interesting exploration on many levels. I agree that new learning and experiences can indeed expand our mind and our heart.

    But I don’t think travel automatically = brain expansion or that brain expansion is impossible without it. Great spiritual masters have spent goodly amounts of their lives sitting on their bums in a cave, often 20 or 30 years or more. Yet their minds and their perception are typically far keener than any of ours. They have no trouble understanding the real world with all its changes and accomplishments.

    How do we cultivate curiosity and an inquisitive mind? This is such an important question and I’m so glad you raised it here.

    I’m so happy the launch of the space shuttle was so meaningful to you. There’s no way to put a price on that or quantify its meaning.

    But we can’t all travel to India or go see a launch. So there must be other ways too. I suspect inner travel is one of the keys.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article.

    • Dear Sandra, I could not help responding to your very insightful comment here (hope you don’t mind Raam). I agree with what you said about travel. I have traveled a lot. However some of those I know who also traveled did not get much out of it except a lot of snapshots. 🙂

      I’ve often thought of people I know or have read about who lived for years in a rainforest or remote areas like I did, and they did not get what I got out of it. Some do some don’t. Very intriguing.

      As to curiosity, I just wrote in today’s post about how facing our fears and even moving beyond them can increase curiosity, along with many other aspects of self. But then again, not everyone who faces their fear becomes more curious, or inquisitive. Although I think facing our fears can certainly give us more strength, courage, and free us from fear so that we can become more inquisitive. We can feel less threatened by life, the unexpected, and unknown…adventure.

      Fascinating topic you have raised dear Sandra. So enjoyed your comment. Hugs, Robin

    • Dear Sandra,

      My dad has often described deep meditation as traveling through an inner universe. The few times that I have found myself in deep meditation, I experienced exactly that: A infinite universe within me, where anything is possible. Perhaps great spiritual masters have learned how to regularly tap into and explore that inner universe without moving their physical bodies. If that’s the case, we could still say that travel does indeed expand our mind.

      Stagnation means nothing changes. Without changing, we cannot learn and grow. However, it’s absolutely true that there is so much to learn without moving our physical bodies. I can walk outside, sit down, and just explore the Earth around me for hours, learning and experiencing new things. As time moves on and I continue exercising my perspective and keeping my mind open, the world around me would begin teaching me new things.

      Great spiritual masters are well known for using ordinary things in life to teach us extraordinary lessons. Those lessons were already there, ready for anyone. The difference was, those great spiritual masters were actively searching, actively exploring (through meditation, living awareness, mindfulness, etc.).

      I see the physical and metaphysical as two sides of the same coin. We are just the instrument that is capable of bridging the gap between those two worlds. We can learn just as much from traveling to a foreign land or exploring outer space as we can from delving into deep meditation and unlocking the world within. All it takes is an intense desire to live, learn, and love.

      • Dear Raam, RE: travel, YES!! Since I’ve done much of it, I know firsthand how much it can expand our view points, beliefs, possibilities, and vision of the world/Earth. As you also know firsthand, it can do all these things if we are open. And you, like me, are very open, so it does change us in marvelous ways.

        I also love what you said here about inner travel. I have done much of this in both my nightly dreams and through my days. Where I fly over vast areas of Earth and see it from the perspective of one being in outer space. I’ve had this happen since I was a child, and no matter how many times it happens, each time I am moved to tears of great ecstasy, joy, love (and I don’t use drugs. I don’t need them; it just happens for me). The thing that moves me to tears is when I look from this perspective down upon the planet I feel overwhelming compassion for humanity (and of course all life and for Earth itself). I also experience this in my Chi Quong practice where you expand into the Universe and then bring Chi back into the body.

        I, like you, am fascinated by the Universe we live in (or “space”), but due to my dreams and visions feel it is a daily part of my life and who I am. My communion with it never stops. We have Universes within Universes right in front of us every single day, in a single flower, in drop of rain, in a living tree, and I experience them and “outer space” as all the same energy, and I move through this energy daily. It is what sustains me.

        The thing I “pray” is that if we humans move into the space beyond Earth (or even other planets) that we treat them better than we are currently treating Earth. It is awareness joined with our logic (like you said), that we need right now, an awareness that we are everything around us and it is us. There is no separation. It is not only learning to—what we think of as—“other”, but learning to love ourselves. Earth is our Greater Self, so is “Space” or the Universe.

        I really understand all that you said, in terms of what broadens people’s awareness. Or working together as team on projects that transcend our “differences” and force us to focus on our commonalities, visions and dreams. This is actually a method of mediation used in waring countries: where families from both sides have to live together.

        I just pray we, as species, will evolve in ways that are filled with more compassion for ALL species, for that which we already have (Earth), for each, for the seemingly unknown world we now begin to enter (space). We’ve not only littered our own planet, but done an enormous amount of littering in Earth’s atmosphere.

        Raam, you are an exceptionally aware soul, you are an appreciative soul, a deep soul. So knowing that you use all experiences for growth and move into the world with awareness and appreciation is so heartening. The world needs who you are more than I can express here. You, dear soul, have leadership qualities that will help bring about the awareness in today’s world and in future generations. For me to see someone of your caliber being active and aware in the world is very rewarding. I am grateful for all you do. Your parents must be very proud of you. I know I am.

        Hugs,
        Robin

        These are all such juicy topics, that is always the case with you. LOL!! 🙂

        • Thank you, Robin. 🙂

          I too hope that as we become more of a spacefaring civilization, we learn to appreciate life and Earth more than we do now. My gut tells me we will. It tells me that as we depart from “home” in search of other planets, we will be forced to appreciate what we have. The universe is filled with vast areas of emptiness… as we venture into that unknown, we will no doubt be more grateful for what we have here and for the bond that exists between all life.

          It’s like someone who is lost in the desert: If they come across someone, it doesn’t matter how strange or foreign that person is… when they find someone, they will be so happy and grateful to have found them (or an oasis!). Likewise, when humans begin venturing beyond the solar system, we will no doubt grow a better appreciation for life.

          My hope is that by getting interested in space and the global community right now — by becoming aware of who we are, what we have, and where we’re going — we can jump-start that shift in mindset long before we’re venturing outside the solar system.

  6. Hi Raam,

    “But when we expose our brain to something new — a different set of people, an awkward social situation”….”our brain is forced to cope with this new truth. It’s forced to grow. It’s forced to return to its plasticity and expand”

    The above rings so true for me at the moment, I am dealing with a bit of a challenging situation and I am working very hard to practise compassion, patience and to maintain a calm & peaceful mind. It’s hard and it’s really testing me but this paragraph of yours helps me to understand that I am being forced to grow and cope with this situation. Thanks Raam, you have helped me so much with this, Debbie x

    • Hi Debbie,

      I’m so happy this helped! I think it’s when we’re going through challenging situations that we need to remind ourselves that it’s OK to struggle… that it’s human. Those are the times that we need to be the most open-minded and be prepared to grow and learn.

  7. Hi Raam,

    There is much we can learn from physical travel and inner travel. I for one enjoy traveling through history. Learning how people lived in the past, the way they overcame adversity, the struggles they faced, all serve to broaden my horizons. It also reminds me that many things in life are possible if we have the will to make it so.

    It is true that we can easily limit ourselves as we go about our daily lives. This is why I enjoy reading military history so much. By reminding myself of life and death, I come face to face with the basic need for survival. To survive, we would do anything and at that moment in time, we break through all the limitations we place on ourselves in normal conditions.

    Of course it is always good to witness things firsthand. But if it is not possible, like a bygone era, it is not too hard to use our imaginations and infer from the things we know. A keen sense of observation of the world around us is important here. The important thing to take away is that anything is possible. All that we have and take for granted is the result of people who believed this to be so. We just have to find a way.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Hi Irving,

      The thing I love about reading and contemplating history is how it helps us see that so many people have come and gone before us. Billions of lives lived and forgotten, all helped to get us where we are today. It’s such a humbling experience when we realize that there will be billions more lives that will come and go after us… so many generations of people.

      There is so much to learn and so much to gain from that enormous volume of wisdom that has been stowed away in the fabric of time.

  8. hi raam ~
    at first, i was a bit surprised to read that you feel imagination is not enough. then, as i read more i understood what you mean – we need to experience each other and new things. i agree – and i love to travel. i’m currently working on helping this happen for people who can’t actually make a voyage.

    i’ve just started, so it’s not too fancy yet, but my goal is to create a gallery of art and creative solutions so that people around the world can use it as an educational resource – a place where they can see models of how other people have improved situations, both local and global, and created meaningful art that expands understanding.

    the gallery & storybook will provide inspiration and connections, so people can continue inventing solutions, responding imaginatively, reaching out across the globe to help each other.

    i’ve often thought, when i’ve read your blog, you’d be in favor of such a thing – it’s the OneWorld art project and it’s all about people helping to raise each other up, solve the issues that ail us, create a world where everyone can lead a decent, healthy and fulfilling life.

    i love your spirit ~
    julie

    • Hi Julie,

      I think imagination is extremely important and that we need to exercise and stimulate it frequently. Children have good imaginations because everything around them is new and interesting… they’re constantly using their imagination to figure out the world and learn how it works.

      As adults, I think firsthand experience, stories, and art are the best ways we can continue exercising our imagination, so I really think you’re on to something with your project! 🙂

  9. Expanded horizons, too bad most never leave their home country. I hope someday we can move beyond the petty grevences, and the moral decay that only serve as an anchor to living a life worth living.

    Leveraging imagination is a wonderful idea because it’s true, everything is new as a young little one, but that stops being so prevelent as an adult. Grownups need to push themselves outside their world, outside of their pond and into the greater ocean of the rest of the world.

    • That’s one thing I think the Internet does a wonderful job of: Exposing people to the bigger ocean. It’s easy to live within your small town and forget the rest of the world exists, but when we have friends from all over the world who are being affected by various things, it forces us to open our eyes and see a bit of the bigger picture.

      Of course knowing a bigger picture exists and actually living our life with it in mind are two different things. It takes more than knowing to make a difference and it takes more than imagination to live a life of purpose. We need to embrace our place in the global community and develop a desire to play our part to the best of our ability.

  10. Raam,
    Travel most certainly does expand our horizons, and connect us even more fully with our world (and her potentials).

    I’m back recently from a trip across the country…a trip that was a last minute choice – on the invitation of a friend, putting on a seminar. The thing about this – the group of people attending the seminar were much different than me…and yet, so much the same. And it was so, so worth going…connecting with people who I never would have…and truly connecting both more deeply with myself and with the world in which I live.

    Today, I look back at that – and am drawn into the beautiful lessons life presented me with…because I chose to “show up”, to be present, and to live…

    So, I love that you did this…that you traveled the country to watch a space ship launch into space…and to expand YOUR horizons in the process…

    • Lance,

      Your trip and the resulting life lessons sounds so similar to my trip to Florida: I met so many incredible people and learned so much about myself and life in general.

      I think what you said about choosing to “show up” is right on the ball. Those few weeks I spent down there have left me feeling more fearless and ready to tackle anything. We need to stop worrying so much about what people will think of us or whether or not we’re going to make mistakes. We need to tackle life, dive in, and live with vigor and gusto!

  11. Hey Raam,
    Wow this was really great to read and thank you for writing this. I’m fairly new to your blog although I’ve heard your name around town before this 😛

    The human race…oh how it is capable of such good and such evil. Collectively, we can create unimaginable amounts of both. The question is, as society continues to grow and develop, can people like you and I and others dedicated to making this world a better place sway it so we can do more good than evil.

    I think so. In fact, I know so. I see it everyday reading posts like this about the actions people are taking to do it.

    This post was really inspiring and motivating and so I think you for that Raam.
    – Laur 🙂

    • Hi Lauren! 🙂

      I think collectively we need to decide what we want the future to hold and then we need to figure out what that means we should be doing right now. Part of it no doubt involves working towards achieving our highest potential and then sharing that potential with others, inspiring them to follow in our footsteps. If we do only that, we will definitely sway the planet in a better direction.

  12. The space shuttle and starving children. Seemingly unrelated objects of human output, or lack thereof, but yet so intimately related in their explanation of the human condition: we do what we love to do, not what must be done.

    Raam, I can tell you, I’m seeing brain plasticity first hand in real time with my parents. They are ageing, not experimenting, becoming more rigid, going out less, attending fewer social events, and the end result is a sad way to live. And yet, I can’t show them the light, no matter how hard I try. They don’t see what they don’t see, because they don’t see it. I can’t explain it or teach it, I can only show it and that’s tough to do because ignorance and narrowmindedness have already taken a grip on their conciousness and it’s strangling them from within their own mind.

    I already knew before coming here that a “lightening the load” experience like yours not only clears the apartment, it clears the mind as well, but I had to no idea that greater awareness could be an outcome.

    Thankfully, I’m pushing for a clearing of house and home as part of the awareness journey I hope my parents wake up through.

    Maybe, one day, instead of hoping to build a space shuttle, they will help a starving child instead.

    • Mayur,

      I see space shuttles and starving children not as a result of doing what we love or not doing what must be done, but rather as examples of a common goal that stretches throughout humanity: The quest to explore a better quality of life.

      Parents who know their children might not have enough food to survive still procreate because they hope their children will somehow have a better chance at life than they did… it’s that instinct to survive and the knowledge that time doesn’t wait for anyone.

      Likewise, the exploration of space is simply the next step in human evolution. Those who have their basic needs met look for bigger challenges, ways to improve the quality of life for their children and for ways to advance humanity as a whole (science and medical advances, space exploration, the building of the Internet, etc.).

      The disconnect, I feel, is in the extreme contrast between the two. Those who have enough don’t feel equal or connected to those who have little, so they hoard and let others suffer.

      That feeling of abandonment by those who have more causes those who have less to feel disempowered and strips them of their self-confidence (that’s why so many “get rich” books focus on changing your mindset).

      And with your parents, I feel your struggle: my family doesn’t embrace the level of simplicity or detachment from possessions that I do, but I’ve accepted that it’s OK.

      It’s not about changing people. It’s about allowing your example to inspire people. If your example doesn’t inspire those you love to change for the better, forcing it won’t improve the situation and will only remove peace from the world.

  13. Raam,

    I just found your website today and the whole thing inspires me, but more so your six month trip. I adore travel, and minimalism has become and ever increasing part of my lifestyle. Alas, I’m only 16, so I can’t be a vagabond just yet. But reading about your journey instills hope in me that hopefully someday I can do exactly what you’re doing now. All aspects of journalism fascinate me, and one day I hope to kind of mimic you and travel everywhere I possibly can and write about it, capture it, observe it and simply experience a life that’s not so stagnant.

    The reason I commented on this entry is your travel log said you visited Merritt Island, which is where I live, and is kind of interesting since out of only 50 locations, this was one. I wish I could met you while you were here. Maybe some of your spunk and writing skill would’ve rubbed off on me.

    I just thought you should be aware that you really inspire me, with your writing, dedication and adventurous attitude. Thanks.

    • Daniel, thank you for the kind words and thank you for connecting!

      If travel is your thing I have no doubt you’ll make the most of it and that you’ll have some incredible experiences along the way. I really believe there is no better way to gain life experience!

      I have friends in the Merritt Island area now, so there’s a good chance I’ll be back (not sure when though, but probably as part of some space-related event).

      I’ll email you directly so we can stay in touch. If you have any questions about travel or if you’d like to get my thoughts on something, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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