A New Measure of Success

Must we quantify success?

Fine. I get it…

We’re a society in love with numbers.

I don’t hate math.

But if we must keep some sort of count,

To wrap our human minds around value,

Let us not do it in hours of work,

Dollars in the bank,

The weight of jewelry that exists only to say,

“Look, I’ve done the things, To buy the things, so I can be the things”

Success? If we so need tangibles

Physical, quantifiable evidence

Of a life lived well,

Let us keep count in eye crinkles.

Yes, eye crinkles. 

Lets measure the depth and length,

Of those smile lines that have become fixed In the corner of our eyes.

Lets count the number of moments

We’ve worn joy on our faces.


The Abundant Bohemian

Last week, I wrote about my becoming a digital nomad, and opening life to travel/adventure/and career freedom, as well as announcing the launch of my new project, LifeCreative.org. Along that same vein, this week I’m honored to share an abbreviated excerpt of my dear friend Joe’s recently published book, The Abundant Bohemian: Live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process. Joe’s book speaks to the either-or myth… that we must either choose a life of passion OR a life of success, he suggests we pursue both.  It includes stories of people who have indeed accomplished a life they love and prospered, as well as shares his own story of stepping out of his comfort zone. Enjoy!


 When I was twenty-two, I stepped off a plane at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, the first time I had traveled abroad.  Alone, no one meeting me at the gate, no hotel arrangements, and no plans until my study abroad classes started two weeks later.  I was fearful, proud, and exhilarated.  For people who grew up traveling, this experience may seem almost passé, hardly warranting me the title Brave Adventurer.  But my previous travel experiences were limited to visiting extended family a few states away and enjoying long weekends at American cities for soccer tournaments.  My family didn’t have the resources for exotic travel, but I lived vicariously through the stories my father told me of his travels through Europe while stationed in Germany in his Army days.  He and his buddies would take off on furlough, hop a train to anywhere and have experiences that would last a lifetime.  Those stories, along with the adventure novels I devoured growing up, had planted the travel bug deep within me.

Stepping off that train into the unknown (unknown to me, and when it comes to life changing experiences, that’s what matters) did not disappoint.  When I returned home, I would not be the same person that landed that day.  I met people that were unlike any I had known before, but had more in common with me than most people that I’d grown up with my entire life.  I had food that I didn’t know existed and developed a love of wine, trains and cafés.  I made deep friendships that will last a lifetime.  I had mugs of beer on mountain peaks in the Alps and in underground pubs.  I discovered nude beaches aren’t really the titillating experience I thought they’d be (anyone you would want to see naked is clothed and everyone you wouldn’t want to see is strutting in the buff).  A Czech Republic train conductor demanded a bribe before he would stamp my ticket and let me off the train.  I ran out of money.  I had moments of joy, confusion and loneliness.  Occasionally I had the sneaky feeling that someone was insulting me in a language I didn’t understand.   I loved every minute of it.  I had much to see and learn, but a life-long traveler had been born.

Many of us never cross our border because we think we can’t afford it.  But tell that to Chris Guillebeau, who, though still in his thirties (and not a trustfunder, by the way) has traveled to all 193 countries that are members of the United Nations.  I recommend you check out his blog at ChrisGuillebeau.com and his book, The Art of Non-conformity, for more of his story and for tips on travel and other unconventional living and working advice.  His stories, from running marathons in Cuba to interviewing aid workers in Sudan, paradoxically make the world feel bigger and smaller at the same time.  Another great source for traveling without breaking the bank is Scott Ford’s packabagandgo.com.  On a trip, Scott gave up his seat on an overbooked flight for a free-flight voucher, and by continuing to do this each subsequent flight, he took 52 trips in 52 weeks and racked up one million frequent flier miles, all for free. (Another perk was free hotels along the way.)  Creativity is not limited to screenplays and oil canvases.  Scott has turned inexpensive travel into an art form.

           Perhaps not surprisingly, another reason many refrain from traveling is fear, the most common concern was the risk of being away from work so long.  “Are you worried about losing clients?” I was repeatedly asked.  The answer is no. I’m sure I’ve lost out on opportunities to make money because I wasn’t available, but that opens up an opportunity for someone else and as long as I maintain the income stream to meet my needs, the tradeoff is worth it.  

You also don’t have to travel to expensive or exotic places to experience the joys that travel has to offer. After experiencing a devastating divorce and losing his job, William Least Heat Moon bought a van, packed it with food and travel gear, and took off across the United States with $454.00 to his name.  His idea was to go wherever the road took him, to meet new people, and to just be open to what may happen.  “A man who couldn’t make things go right could at least go,” he wrote.  “He could quit trying to get out of the way of life and live the real jeopardy of circumstance.”  He documented his journey in his book Blue Highway, a bestseller that was translated into thirty-nine different languages and is still popular thirty years after publication.

 As with Least Heat-Moon, the need to travel often follows an upheaval in life.  Other times it comes from the sense that one’s life is stuck.  You need new experiences to open the flow of energy and rediscover your passion and creativity again.   The Australian Aborigines have a tradition of going on a “walkabout,” which Miriam-Webster’s dictionary describes as “a short period of wandering . . . as an occasional interruption of work . . . making a ritual journey.”  We all need a walkabout from time to time. We don’t grow when locked in routine for too long.  I believe from time to time we all get that faraway look in our eyes and long to be a nomad, a gypsy, a wanderer.  It pays to acknowledge and feed that part of our souls.

           Make travel a priority, my Bohemian friends.  And not to a theme park or to a cruise ship.  Strap on your backpack and hit the road, the bush, or the sky.  If you can’t go to far off places, you can still leave the familiar, the comfortable, the fixed. New ideas and new inspiration await at every turn.  Step out, Bohemian.  You may not recognize yourself when you return home.

The above is an abbreviated excerpt from The Abundant Bohemian: Live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian

You can also follow Joe’s blog at www.abundantbohemian.com


Almostopenbook.Com is the blog of Jennifer Monet’, writer, wild-eyed-wild-haired adventurer, and lover of life. She offers travel coaching, mobility solutions, and resources to earn a living while turning your passion for adventure into a reality at LifeCREATIVE.org.