06 Apr Seeking What Lights My Soul on Fire — My Story Thus Far
Inspired by the morning moon,
While gazing towards the sky,
It’s early when I feel at peace,
I think I now know why.
The world is still but my soul stirs,
I long to write it down;
The history of why we’re here,
So wonderfully profound.
I love to write about the world,
And all that makes us us,
To travel and experience life,
They call it wanderlust.
But this past year as we’ve stepped back,
Seeking which way to move,
I’ve wondered what would make me happy,
What is there to prove?
My dream is to inspire others,
With every step I take,
Towards my heart, spirit and soul,
No longer could I fake.
I’ve gone within in hopes to find,
What it means to live,
Though as I write and share my thoughts,
Found meaning when I give.
My name is Vincent Van Patten. I’m twenty-five-years-old, and I’m grateful to call Del Mar, California, home.
I’m a writer, media creator, and co-host of The Dare to Dream Podcast. Most importantly, I’m an inspired citizen of our ever-changing world motivated by a love for travel, history, spirituality, personal growth, and human connection.
My heart yearns to explore the natural world and all the treasures of this planet — the cities, towns, and everything else which we call home.
I fervently believe travel changes us. Traveling puts us in uncomfortable situations where we’re required to ask: who am I, and how will I react in this environment? Will I seek the help of a stranger by speaking up? Will I act courageously if need be?
We’re exposed to new people, fresh ideas, and foreign landscapes that excite our senses and make us come alive. There’s no better way to discover who we are and what we may become than being put into an unfamiliar situation.
Four years ago I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After four years of studying journalism, one thing was for sure — I didn’t want to be a news reporter.
I dreaded each interview and contemplated switching majors countless times. In retrospect, I’m thankful this was near impossible to do at Cal Poly, as I know my time in journalism was for a reason. I wouldn’t be the individual that I am today without that challenging experience.
That fearful college lad was me, the college journalist me; I resented news reporting because I felt like a fraud. I was writing stories I had no interest in — I felt inadequate as a writer because of this.
I acknowledge that part of my past. I’ve grown. Now, I don’t only embrace my past fear of vulnerability; I strive to make it the focus of my life.
I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing as I’ve recognized that no matter where my journey leads, I’ll always have a means of expression, solace, and profound joy in the blank page and a will to write.
Writing is the most rewarding way I’ve gone about traversing the depths of what it means to be human.
I simply want to learn; be it through travel, reading, writing, and most importantly, by getting out there to connect with other human beings. That, I’ll never stop doing.
My Admiration for the Gift of Life
I became obsessed with writing once I graduated from college and started a blog on Medium thanks to stumbling upon the work of Tom Kuegler. He was living the adventurous lifestyle I dreamed of — I wondered what I could do to attain what he had.
He developed his brand through vulnerability and through embarking on a never-ending quest for growth and new experiences. I envisioned the same path for myself; writing became my way to seek what I truly want out of life.
Writing about the topics I genuinely care about unlocked my heart and soul’s dormant potential. I now write on my website, Medium, and News Break about travel, health, books, life, philosophy, spirituality, self-improvement, and history.
This awakening of my spirit was the beginning of my writing career. The more I wrote, the more I realized it’s not just the act of writing that I love.
While nothing makes me happier than waking at the crack of dawn to put my thoughts on the page, I write because I long to better understand living.
I write to express everything from the thoughts in my head to the relationships we share as human beings. Writing is how I impart my admiration for the gift of life.
My Insatiable Passion for Travel
Since I was a kid, I’ve fostered a profound interest in travel and spending time in the natural world. The beauty and peace of the natural world is healing when we’re receptive to it.
Nothing brings me more joy than seeking the beating heart of any location. This essence comes from the people, culture, and history of any place.
When I was young my favorite shows were on the Travel Channel. Andrew Zimmern, Adam Richman, and Anthony Bourdain were my guys!
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations made me believe that it’s an art form to uncover the essence of a city.
The solution is simple: do as the locals do, walk, ask questions, observe, live. This often means staying in one place, watching the world go by, and simply being present.
I wouldn’t be who I am without Bourdain’s influence. Bourdain’s life has emboldened me to be an explorer of this progressive planet.
Just like how my college interviews made me realize we’re all people who deserve the same amount of respect, so has traveling proven to me that no matter what slice of earth we call home, we’re all human beings. Anthony Bourdain exemplified this belief.
We may not all share the same verbal language, but it doesn’t matter.
I’ve shared extraordinary moments with strangers in foreign countries where we didn’t need to speak the same language.
We communicate through love, connection, support, courage, an open mind, a smile.
I believe we’re here to challenge ourselves by questioning all we think we know. When we do, we open our minds to a way of living we could never have imagined.
At the beginning of 2020 I planned to move to Japan to teach English, write about my experience, and learn about a culture beautifully unlike my own. My plans haven’t changed; I’m simply awaiting the green light.
I live to inspire others through my words and actions by living life on purpose, day in and day out. That’s why one of my best friends and I created The Dare to Dream Podcast and the Dare to Dream Medium publication.
We believe every human deserves to live a life that lights their soul on fire.
Something burns in me that I want to give to the world to move us forward. Writing helps me appreciate that we’re here together on this spinning rock with many of the same problems, victories, doubts, and blissful moments.
With every new project and step that I take, I hope to be a binding light that brings people together to see the good in one another.
I want to learn about who we are and how we’ve interacted since the beginning of time. Our cultures, similarities, and differences derive from our relationships with one another and the earth.
No part of the world, no person, no experience is uninteresting. It’s a blessing just to be alive.
It was 5 am on a crisp December day in 2019. I woke up in Tokyo, Japan and scuttled out of my hostel into the dim morning light. It had been my dream to visit Japan since I was a kid; I would not waste any time sleeping in.
Nothing could hurt me, nor could anything diminish the smile on my face. The table was set for an ideal day, which for me looks something like rising at the crack of dawn in a new city and heading out with my camera in hand and my journal in my backpack. I’d roam the chilly streets, observing shops open and locals going about their morning as the sun rises.
I’d find my way around for the rest of the day, taking whatever comes my way with a smile and an open mind.
This mindset imbued my entire month in Japan, where I possessed boundless energy with eight of my best friends (you read that right) traveling from Tokyo to Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, and the Iya Valley on the rural island of Shikoku.
When you think of Vincent Van Patten, I hope you think of discovery, adventure, connection, and learning. Through my projects, I dream of instilling the world with the same enthusiasm and sheer joy I felt on that first morning waking up in a foreign city.
I aim to illuminate the darkness and negativity that we see on the news by leading by example and getting out there. We fear what we don’t know. Yet, too many of us only know what immediately surrounds us or what we see on tv.
Our way of living, whatever that may be, isn’t the only way.
Through travel, we learn how others live. Through learning, I strive to impart what it means to be human, fully human.
In the biography of one of my heroes of history, Michel de Montaigne, the 20th-century writer Stefan Zweig writes:
For him, seeing is learning, comparing, and better understanding all that demonstrates the perennial diversity of human nature. Out of the art of living comes the art of travel, to become the art of life.
Montaigne himself said:
And I know no better school of life, as I have said so often, than that which reveals the way others live their lives.
I hope others feel uplifted when others see my name, read my stories and books, and glimpse my photos and videos.
Not a sense of comfort, per se, but a sense of purpose and encouragement. I hope to show others that they too possess a spirit capable of defying the story they’ve been told or the past that’s held them back.
I hope to motivate others to get out and experience the world’s magic. This doesn’t mean breaking the bank on a trip to Paris.
As I’ve experienced countless times, travel doesn’t only mean vacation. It means doing something uncomfortable and new. It means learning about who we are. Learning about each other and wanting to move forward is the only way that this will work.
We live in the most incredible time in history where the world is asking to shift. It’s time to come together as human beings. The only way forward into a brighter future is through working together.
I’m expecting to release my debut nonfiction novel, Arrows of Youth, early this Spring! The book is part memoir, part travel/nature story, all a quest to find what lights my soul on fire. On this quest, I strive to help you do the same.
Stay tuned for updates on the release through my Weekly Insights! I hope you’ll join me on this adventure; I’m just getting started.
YouTube: Where you’ll find my weekly videos on personal growth, travel, reading, spirituality — anything that strikes my fancy.
Find all of this and more on my website: Vincentvanpatten.com