Hey there, here’s another great story from the Zen Pencils community. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I do. - Gav
My name is Jess, I’m 34 and from the UK. I knew from a very young age that I would not be one of those people who hated their job. I knew that there was more to life than careers and pensions. Life is for living and having fun, jobs are secondary … or thirdly or fourthly.
While my friends were puzzling over which universities to go to I was deciding which country to travel to first. In my mind I figured I’d travel for a few years and thought nothing more of it. Surfing and photography are my passions and I surfed and sailed myself around the world … for the next 16 years. I never stayed in one place for more than a few months, met wonderful people, experienced many different cultures from India to Antarctica, the Caribbean to Sweden and everything in between. 52 countries and 50 thousand ocean sailing miles later and I found myself back home in the UK listening to people say “When are you going to get a real job? When are you going to settle down? What are you running away from?”. After awhile these people started to get to me and the seeds of doubt began to grow. “Maybe they’re right”, I thought. “I should get a proper job. What on earth is a proper job anyway?”
So I started reading books looking for answers to my conflicting feelings. I dabbled in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, the Tao Te Ching, Christianity, psychology and psychotherapy. I read every self-help book under the sun from Tim Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle and Ram Das. I even started meditating (which was one of my better discoveries and something I still practice today). Even though the books were filled with wisdom, they mostly filled my head with other peoples ideas which created more questions and just conflicted with my inner voice.
However, every now and then I stumble upon something very useful. Simple reminders that if we shut out all the noise we will be able to hear what our inner voice is telling us, and more importantly that our own inner voice is the only thing we need to listen to. One of those reminders was the Alan Watts comic What If Money Was No Object? that I found on Zen Pencils. After reading it, I decided to write down the things I loved most, without taking money into consideration: art, music, surfing, camping, playing in nature and living an outdoor life. Then I had a huge realisation. I ALREADY HAD IT! I had my head so deeply in too many self-help books that I had forgotten the very things my heart called out for. I couldn’t even see that I already had everything I want. It’s only us who knows what’s best for us. What might be best for one person is not best for another and it’s nobody’s job to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
Currently I’m doing art and photography projects and deciding where to go next. I’m not employed at the moment but something will come up, it always does when I trust that it will. My plan for the future is to continue having no plan and to be open to the flow of life and the opportunities it brings. I have no idea where I’ll go or what I’ll do. Whatever it is I know it will be what I want in that moment.
You can follow Jess on Instagram.
UPDATE: Jess has added more info in the comments section below, explaining a bit about her upbringing and how she funded her 16 years of travel. – Gav