Seeking a Dream Life, Not a Dream Job

What in God’s name are you doing here? This is a question that two of my best friends and I were asked consistently while travelling through Montréal recently.

It was around twenty degrees, with snow on the ground and a bite in the air. When those that we’d meet would hear we’re from California, they’d give a suspect look and ask why we’d spend our time off drifting through the snow-covered streets of the great white north.

The fact that they asked this question — that’s why.

Nothing makes me happier than travelling off the beaten path where the beautiful, gritty, heartfelt moments that make us human persist.

Exploring these experiences and what they mean excites me more than anything. If we turn our back on what excites us, what are we really doing here? Legendary podcast host and author Tim Ferris writes in The 4-Hour Workweek:

The question you should be asking isn't, What do I want? or What are my goals? but What would excite me?

I’m happiest in the wild, figuring out life on the go. The bound-up energy of an unfamiliar experience carries me. I get the notion that this, this is what it means to live.

Around the world, street signs indicate the same message in different languages. Buildings portray the unique history, the spirit of the past, and the human beings who have stepped atop the very same roads. The cobblestones tell a story.

The wind may blow cold and seep beneath your scarf to reach your bones. Somewhere else the wind will be soft and warm and rustle the collar of your short-sleeved shirt along with the tops of trees.

Similar slices of life may take place thousands, if not millions of times around the world simultaneously. Yet, the differences are subtle. The subtleties are everything.

In Montréal, we trudged through the cold before dipping into a dimly lit bistro that only had a few customers. It took a second to acclimate and feel comfortable in this neighborhood restaurant. But when you smile sincerely and show respect and be yourself, nobody gives a shit whether you’re a local.

In a place like this, the food is delicious and you make friends with those working there. People like you and me, and even though they may speak differently, their heart beats the same. They question the same. They wonder what makes life worth living, too.

You all become a sort of family as you get to know one another. Maybe you’re not fighting like a family, but you’re getting along like one, together and warm, celebrating each other’s company and wonderful food. You discover what makes their city their home. These are the moments I live for.

It may sound like I just want to travel and throw caution in the wind. Maybe I do. But it’s more than that — I discover who I am out there; I explore, I learn about others, my spirit comes alive as I interact with the unfamiliar. Traveling inspires me, and that’s the feeling I crave.

Once I stepped off the plane, it took about an hour for Montréal to steal my heart. The people, the culture, the architecture, the history — it’s colorful and French and oh so lovely.

Every time I travel I get this unshakable feeling that this is what I’m meant to do because this is all I want to do: travel, write, take photos, create. I long to explore what’s out there and share what makes this world so damn beautiful and rich, dark and meaningful, strange and alive.

This week I told a co-worker essentially what I just described. I have this feeling deep within that I know what genuinely excites me, although it doesn’t fit into a tidy job that I can apply for.

His reply was sincere and hit home. He’s just a young man, like me. We never know the effect our words may have. He said:

“I like how you aren’t saying this is my dream job, but this is my dream life.”

Maybe that’s it. We grow up believing we must find our dream job, but we’re lucky if we can even think of one. We equate our job or career with our livelihood and who we are; it’s the first thing we tell people about ourselves — I’m a blank.

It’s much easier to rattle off a job title than explain what I’m trying to explain now.

But what if we could seek endlessly for what truly excites us — a dream life — not a job, not a career, but a feeling, a profound emotion that stays with us where we feel totally comfortable in our skin, living the life we’re born to live.

And if a job doesn’t fit into that life, we may try different jobs, explore, dare to find a career that fits into that desired lifestyle. Or better yet, create it ourselves.

The world is changing. We can create our own future in a moment of history asking for change. But we must believe we can. We must believe in ourselves and encourage one another.

Just don’t settle, never settle. We aren’t on this earth to do what we hate; I believe we’re here to try, fail, and learn about who we are while stumbling along in search of what lights us up inside.

That feeling, that thing which truly excites you, it’s out there waiting to ignite. We all deserve to be excited to find what lights our soul on fire, and if we don’t find it, we must dare to create it.

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