04 May 2014

Food For Thought // #08

La Chaîne des Puys, July 2011

Today, I'd like to present some Food for Thought links in a slightly different way - I have read, and watched, a few things that made me think, more deeply than usual, so I decided to explore these thoughts a bit with you. I hope this will be as interesting for you to read as it was for me to discover and share.

On TED - Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating
"I would find my resolve always in the same way, by saying I'm not going to quit, I'm going home. [...] Returning to the work of writing because writing was my home."

In this TED talk, writer Elizabeth Gilbert explains how the success of her book "Eat, Prey, Love" has lead her to question her motivations as a writer, how she kept writing despite failure in her young years, and how it helped her continue past an overwhelming success. She extrapolates her experience to all of us, by explaining the very roots of her motivation, what drives her whole life.

I have been deeply touched by her talk, as it provides, in my opinion, the beginning of an answer to the question of how to take the wheel of our own life. She talks about the concept of "home", which is, really, our reason to live, the meaning we find to our own existence, the fire that motivates us as human beings. She says it can be creativity, family, a passion...

"Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energy with such singular devotion that the ultimate result become inconsequential. [...] You have got to identify the best, worthiest thing that you love most and then build your house right on top of it and don't budge from it."

The way I see it, this "home" helps you shape your life objectives and motivations, go beyond difficulties and obstacles, and make your life choices. What bothers me much about the world we live in is how we drive, on automatic, through the rails of society without even wondering what it is we really want to achieve in this life. Is this a project? A creative activity? Family, children? I'm starting to think it may be much easier to take the wheel of your own life once you know where you want to drive to.

"Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself." - Elizabeth Gilbert.

On Nerd Fitness - It's Dangerous to Go Alone. Take This.

We set this idea of adventure aside until “things get less busy,” “when I can afford it,” or “when the timing is right.”

In this article, Nerd Fitness's Steve explores the question of adventure and doing now what we are endlessly postponing because we are caught up in the everyday routine. He explains how life 'happens', and how, in consequence, we tend to forget our dreams of adventure - our dreams of anything, really - and end up thinking 'that would be nice, but not for me. maybe one day'.

Then, as the "rebel coach" that he is, he explains how we can go beyond that idea of 'not now, that's impossible', and actually make one adventure happen. Because dreaming of it is nice and all, but if we don't actually take a step to make it concrete, it will never happen, not now, not one day, not ever. Then, he debunks the classic excuses we make - no money, no time... and explains how easy it really is to plan an adventure, for real.

On TED - David Brooks: Should You Live for your Resumé... or Your Eulogy?

"So I've been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are [...] the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues [...] are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency?"

In this talk, the journalist David Brooks portrays two sides of human nature, which he calls "Adam I" and "Adam II". The first one is success oriented, he is the one you put on your resumé, the one that wants efficiency and results. The second one is the humble side of human nature, the one who wants to help people, who wants purpose and love.

He explains that we all have some sort of inner battle between the two, and the problem is, our society favours Adam I much more than it favours Adam II, which shape us into preferring the cold, resulting oriented logic of efficiency over kindness and purpose. What really struck me was the following:

"... you become a cold, calculating creature who slips into a sort of mediocrity where you realize there's a difference between your desired self and your actual self. You're not earning the sort of eulogy you want, you hope someone will give to you. You don't have the depth of conviction. You don't have an emotional sonorousness."

This feeling is exactly what made me want to turn my life around in Spring 2011, why I couldn't stand my external image anymore, why I changed my style and started simplifying my whole life as a result. In this talk, David Brooks suggests to remember about "Adam II", this more emotional, driven part of our personality, and live not only for success and results, but for who we really want to be, and how people will describe us in our eulogy.

Now there is a pattern in these 3 Food for Thought links, isn't there? I think we are touched by what we read, see or hear, only when we are ready to listen to the message people are trying to convey. Maybe I was particularly touched by these articles because they touch the subject of the meaning of life, our motivations, who we want to be, what we want to achieve, where we want to go.

What do you think about these articles and videos? Have you ever reached a point in your life where you wondered who you wanted to be, where you wanted to go, what your "home" was?


  1. I feel like I'm kind of living the Nerd Fitness article you posted--or trying to anyway. Adventure exists everywhere--for international travel, maybe it takes a little longer to plan, but I've got Japan in my sights sometime in the next two years. I do need to save up work time off and money for activities.

    I fully support and agree with the idea of there is NO excuse not to adventure. Even in our own backyard, there's always something to see! That's why I've also been pushing myself to explore Los Angeles, which is less than an hour away from me, not to mention my own home area which is close to the ocean. I think it's made me more proud to be a local and the feeling I get from enjoying things in my own hometown is worth more than the price of parking. (Parking and gas is a real expense when you don't have a fully-developed public transportation system--such is the curse of the area I live in.) Of course, all these expenditures are to be made within reason, but like the NF article said--you choose your life based on how you spend your discretionary income. If adventure is not a priority, but $5 coffees and cable tv are, then that's the life you live. Adventuring, just like any other activity takes up resources and it's just a matter of choosing what is more important to you.

    I don't know that I'm doing everything right, but definitely shifting more of my resources over to travel/exploration (even local sites) has IMO made me a better person. Seeing something different than your daily grind pushes your brain to consider other methods and strategies. I hope I can keep going, because there's still a lot I've yet to experience.

    1. Yes, that's also how the Nerd Fitness article made me feel too. Sometimes it is easier to just make up excuses, rather than questioning ourselves and make room for adventure. I love all the pictures you post on your blog & instagram, you seem to be taking the time and resources to explore, visit, walk around the place and that's great!

      It's also something I have commited to do when I arrived in Paris, visit new neighborhoods, museums, exhibits, and not stay at home watching TV. Your priority is where you spend your discretionary income, but it's also where you spend your time, and it's so easy to get stuck in everyday life and forget about side projects and adventures!

      Lately with my fiancé we have decided to take steps to travel more together. As we don't live in the same city we spend quite some money in train tickets, but we usually go visit each other, and we could, at least once in a while, go elsewhere instead. We are starting to save money, our next objective is Rome :)

  2. My idea of an adventurous life is the one that satisfies my heart and feelings and creativity. So, yes, I do need to work to support myself, but I can spend my time off enjoying nature, doing art, sewing, interacting with people, etc. It's all in how I choose to spend my time. If I'm not careful, life can just degenerate into a series of errands and unnecessary chores.

    1. I agree, adventures are not only traveling somewhere, I think it can be how we spend our free time in general. And it's true that if we don't pay attention we end up stuck in chores and mindless activities like watching TV etc. It's great that you found areas to develop your ceativity, I find it very fulfilling and rewarding :)

  3. I saw Elizabeth Gilbert speak when she did a tour of Australia recently. She is such a fabulous speaker! We're planning for adventures now - close to home and far away!

    1. You're so lucky to have seen Elizabeth Gilbert! I have been deeply touched by her TED talk and I can't imagine how it must be to actually see her, she must be very charismatic and inspiring indeed. I'm eager to see the pictures from your next adventures, they are always so refreshing.