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Traveling Philosopher’s Roundtable: The World Is Your School Edition

Welcome to the almost weekly series on The Mad To Live: The Traveling Philosopher’s Roundtable: The World Is Your School Edition. Each week a group of hand picked world-traveling, life-inspiring, dream-pursuing bloggers from all walks of life will share their personal opinions, stories and insights based on a question stemming from a quote,  event, video, photo, etc. They get 150 words to share something brilliant, and they always do.

This Week’s Roundtable Discussion: THE WORLD IS YOUR SCHOOL


American Author Martin H. Fischer once told us, “The world is your school.

He was definitely onto something here. But I wonder, if the world is our school, then what are we to choose to learn and experience and how are we to do it? There are endless, countless, infinite pieces of this world for us to dive into. Where do we even begin?!

And as you dive deeper into it, the question becomes do you try to do everything or do you attempt to specialize?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. If you’re a traveler you can do a RTW trip and visit 52 cities in 52 weeks and get a taste of everything, you could spend 4 months in 3 countries to dive in a little deeper, or you could spend the entire year in just one place and totally immerse yourself.

The same can be said for your passions, hobbies, and livelihood. Do you attempt to support yourself and fund these travels by monetizing 50 of your 100 interests, do you focus on just 1 and build it up brick by brick, or do you dabble somewhere in the middle?

The Thought At Hand:

And so, my question to you is…when it comes to your own life, how has the world become your school? And for all that you’re learning and doing, is it better to buckle down and specialize so you can harness in on your focus, or is it better to embrace your passionately curious mind and do it all? Why do you feel this way? What experience has taught you this is best for you? And how are you harnessing this? What has the world, is the world, and will the world teaching you?


Emily - The World Is Your SchoolsEmilie Wapnick of Puttylike My Body Won’t Let Me

A lot of people will tell you to focus. The school system, your parents, productivity gurus, and practically everyone who is on a specialized path themselves. The message that success comes through focus alone is drilled into us from a very early age.

I blog about multipotentiality, so naturally most people assume I have a ton of interests cycling through my life at any given moment. The truth is that I tend to focus on only a couple at once and shut everything else out. In the past I’ve even focused exclusively on one pursuit for two or three years before changing direction (I did this with both my music career and filmmaking).

Sometimes I pursue my interests in sequence, other times simultaneously. The only thing I know for sure is that a life dedicated to one career is not for me. My body simply won’t let me do it.

Randy of Yearlyglot – Learn What  You Love – Teach What You Love

I believe that if you take from the world without giving back, you’re a parasite. I give value back to the world in the form of teaching and helping, which would be impossible to do without digging in and really learning something first!

Whether it was music, or photography, computer programming or foreign languages, I’ve always dug in deep into things that interested me, and dedicated a lot of time to them. Facts can be learned in an evening, but skill must be acquired over time, and as interesting as facts may be, only skill allows us to bring value to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So for me, “the world is my school” because it’s not just the place where I go to learn from my experiences, it’s also the place where I hope to teach others from my experiences.

Mark Robertson of The PanamericansWork, enjoy, and LET GO.

We are, all of us, nomads. Whether five feet or 5000 miles from home, we are on an orbiting planet with moving people.

For expats, diplomats and Argonauts, it’s just a bit less metaphorical.

The historical peripatetic–the Israelite, the Mongol, the Kyrgyz, the Kale–followed their flocks, their crops, their dreams, and their God into unknown territories. There was always a consistent sense of impermanence.

Their common message? Work, enjoy, and LET GO.

In Brazil this “abrir mão” philosophy—open hands—makes a person detached from possessing beauty, and more apt to notice it.

Immersion requires a dive. I’d be lost in the Brazilian savanna if I was too afraid to engage people with broken Portuguese. I’d have rotting teeth if I held on to the idea of “American exeptionalism” in dental care. (I just had a root canal, and In Brazil root canals are like telenovelas: they are long, painful, and are strung out over several episodes.)

Without my familiar props, the cul-de-sac of my geospecific thinking, I have been “world schooled” in letting go.

*I don’t necessarily recommend dental tourism, but it is a crash course in letting go.

Lauren Rains of – “wait you’re here right now! Thank you!” – Screw the Text Books

The way I looked at learning even 1 year ago has changed vastly to how I view it today. A few years ago I thought the only real way to go to school was to go to a class 3 days a week, read an outdated text book, look at power points, and write papers that would later just be thrown out our lost when my hard drive died. I mean, school is a physical building with a physical-like structure, isn’t it?

And while there are some professors and classes that can change your mind and life, mostly it’s very static and bland. The real school is out there – it’s our experiences, our risks, our ability to dive in to our passions as deeply as we want. We take them, be it one or all, and we start projects with them, we create art with them, we build things with them. If we fail, we learn. If we succeed, we learn. Screw the text books.

James Watt of Adventuring RawSetting The Stage

I was 22 when I decided my meaning of life.

I was at the tail end of some young heartbreak, and struggling with a severe bit of existential malaise. This wasn’t the first painful time in my life, but it was the first time  I consciously felt myself change even as it was happening.

“The World is my School”

Hobbies are brilliant, success in business is lovely, and having dreams we pursue are wonderful. That’s true whether you specialize or dabble in everything under the sun.

That said, those choices just set the stage.

We are here to be shaped by the moments, often the difficult and the painful ones. Always from the passionate ones. The countries and visions and communities you choose only set the stage for the lessons. However you come to those defining moments, you’re only living life fully if you choose to be changed by them.

Robin at World Hacking GuideLearning to Inspire

People who read my blog know that I constantly work on myself. Before I started the WHG properly about a year ago, I was an emotional mess. Writing this blog made me more aware of the things I do. This has gone so far now that I want to earn money by fighting my biggest fear, losing my worst habit and making extraordinary experiences. This way I have a great motivation to overcome these things and even if I’m not successful with turning it into a money stream, I take a huge benefit out of it. I believe that learning and growing is one of our main reasons why we live. And hand in hand with inspiring other people to focus on the important things, it has certainly become my MAIN purpose in life. Fears and habits are just challenges life has prepared for us so we can grow.


We all have different stories, opinions, lessons and wisdom to share. So, what would you add to this roundtable discussion? How is the “world your school?” What are you doing to learn and grow and how are you doing it?

There are endless ways to make the world your school no matter what your means, circumstances, fears or goals. Whether you’re specializing in one thing or 100 things, simply by throwing yourself out into the classroom of the world, you can dive into whatever you want. See you in class!!

Check out amazing past Roundtables here! And if you’d like to be part of a future one shoot me an email here and tell me what kind of discussions you’d be right for!

Invite Others to Join the Roundtable!
If this post got you thinking, please share it with all the other world schoolers! You can retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook— and don’t forget to join THE MAD ONES for email updates and LIKE it on FB. Thanks for your support guys! :)

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About Lauren Rains

Life gets pretty f*cking nuts sometimes, doesn't it? Every day I wake up more to myself and more to this world. This website is an expression of that.

Space Travelers is multi-layered exploration of our existence here on this rock we call Earth. We're going to talk about the matrix, UFOs, and astral travel, and explore our awakening into the divine masculine and feminine. We'll discover our bodies both the physical and subtle body. We'll contemplate the sacredness of mother earth and the concept of who/what the hell made this place in the first place?

I also aim to keep this website rooted and grounded, referring to topics that are effecting us in the here and now, such as fighting against the oppression of women worldwide, pealing away layers of social conditioning greedy capitalists are using to turn us into consumers, and navigating this insane technological revolution before the AI take over. I can geek out on consciousness up in space all day, but life happens here on the ground and this is the time we were born into.

This website is about integrating into our full human experience, aligning with ourselves and with each other, shedding skins and transcending into the unfolding layers of ourselves.

My wish for you, and for myself, is to unfold and evolve into our highest selves. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We need not sell our souls to the status quo.

I'm on the journey too. I write this blog to speak to others who are waking up, or who desire to wake up. Because we can't do this alone.

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  • Emilie, Mark, James, Robin and Randy – you guys are, well, to say the least, rock! It was absolutely wonderful having you guys on this roundtable and I appreciate your inspiring and thought-provoking input and answers. After reading your answers I’m ready to dive into whatever has been captivating my mind lately no matter how big, scary, random, or different!

    Thanks so much for sharing! You’re outlook on this world and how we learn and what we do with our knowledge is going to take you to more far and wide places than you could ever imagine!
    – Laur 🙂

  • Thanks for the invitation to participate. I’ve watched my blog grow in popularity quickly over the last 14 months, from nothing, and every day – literally every single day – I’m still surprised and flattered that there are people out there in this world who care what I have to say. Being invited to participate here is no exception.

    I can’t help noticing that Robin and James both mentioned that they started their blogs at a time of emotional turbulence, and seem to have found their peace by channeling that turbulence into something positive which helps others, vis-a-vis their blogs. I experienced the same thing with my own blog, as it began when all else in the world seemed in chaos for me. It didn’t take long – only a few months – for me to see that starting the blog was a turning point in my life, which in the space of one year has already lead me all over the US and around the world, and has brought amazing new people into my life.

    • Wow Randy I am on the same page with you in every single way with your comment here. I started the mad to live myself in a period of some emotional chaos. For me, I have a tendancy to get stuck in limbo. And limbo is the most uninspiring, least mobilizing, frustrating place to be in. So, I started my first blog and I just started writing and suddenly I was meeting all these amazing people that push me and inspire me and share common interests with me. Doing this has hands down been the greatest thing I’ve ever gotten into in my life and I honestly don’t know what I did before I started it! 🙂 I try to tell EVERYONE to start a blog now lol.

      And honestly, I can see why your blog grows everyday Randy! You are awesome, sincere, genuine, and a freaking world traveling-language hacking badass! I mean, cumon! – I expect nothing less! haha. I’m glad I am going to be there along the ride now 🙂
      Thanks Randy!!!
      – Lauren 🙂

      • Ou I totally started my blog at a time of turbulence too! Had no idea what to do with my life, so blogging was as much about helping me figure that out as it was about helping others… I think the best blogs tend to be personal like that.

        It’s nice to meet all of the other philosophers. 🙂 Great answers!

        And thanks Lauren, for putting this together!!

        • Hey Emilie!!!
          hahah looks like yet another thing we have in common! 🙂 Glad we both seem to be finding our paths!

  • You might be interested in an article I recently wrote called “The World is My School: Welcome to the Era of Personalized Learning” (published in The Futurist) which can be found here: http://bit.ly/socraitpdf

    It’s more than 150 words … but I think it’s on topic.

    • Hey Marie!
      Sounds awesome! I checked out your website and I love what you’re doing! Learning never stops! You have a great mentality 🙂

  • “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” -Mark Twain

    I have always learned best by doing now and thinking later. I am not always sure if I will accomplish what I have set out to do, or if I will accomplish something completely unexpected, but I know that I will always learn something.

    Great blog!

    • Hey Christina!
      haha I LOVE that Mark Twain quote! Thanks for reminding me of it! 🙂 I guess all that matters is we learn and we work our asses off to the best of our ability to do whatever it is we set out to do. I am a firm believe that if we give it our all, our 110%, that we will succeed…and sometimes the path gets a little tricky and it seems like we didn’t but, somehow we will. 🙂
      Cheers to our self education!
      Lauren 🙂

  • Love this series Lo! Also, some great peeps here. Hadn’t heard of any of these fine folks.

    The great thing about travel for me, is that it’s the missing puzzle pieces, the bridge across the gap, and *insert cheesy phrase*. Traveling has bridged together the things I’ve heard and made it a cohesive whole. What I really love is that travel is so subjective and that each experience can be vastly different from the next. Similarly, two people can go to the same place and do the exact same things, yet the experiences be completely different. I also love those places that you go back to time and time again and each time presents opportunities and chances to learn that the last visit didn’t.

    • Hey Spencer!!!

      haha I Love corny phrases don’t worry. I seriously have to hold back from not getting too corny in every post. Man what you said is so so so true too! Travel is quite possibly the most subjective thing in this world after attempting to tell if a girl is sending a guy signals or not haha.
      It’s kind of like when I went treking at the start of the himalays in China. There were about 10 other people from our hostel that we crossed paths with along the trail and got to talking to. And we were all doing that trek for different reasons, ya know? Some adventure junkies, one man was 70 years old and wanted to prove to himself he could do it, I myself was there to test myself physically and mentally and see something beautiful. We all were on that same mountain overlooking that same view, watching the moon rise above the mountains and sun set below them, but our minds and our outlooks were all individual and personal. What an amazing experience.
      I learned so much about myself during that trek. Many puzzle pieces were put together for me then and I look back on that memory often.

      Thanks for sharing Spencer!
      LO 🙂

  • I’m proud to currently be working for a non profit that offers mobile education for free to anyone in the world. Our number one visitors come from India and Pakistan (#3 is the US). By working here, I’ve come to realize more and more that traditional ways of thinking about school, education, and learning are changing for good. Online learning, self paced courses, mobile applications, all of these are the way of the future. (and the link to our education site is http://www.GCFLearnfree.org if you are interested).

    • Hey Jessica!
      Wow that is SO amazing! And what a wonderful job! I always said that even though I’m on the mission of my life to work for myself through my own projects, if I were to ever take some sort of 9-5 deal it would either be for a nonprofit whose cause I truly believe in, or a travel company as a tour guide hehe.

      I will definitely check out that link! I totally believe in what you guys are working for and sharing with the world! Thanks for sharing that Jess!
      – Laur 🙂

  • I can say that without a doubt I feel as though travel has enriched my life. I learned more in my 2 1/2 weeks about Japanese culture than I would ever learn in my entire life. If you have the opportunity to spend an extended time somewhere and specialize, go for it. In my opinion we just need people to get out there and start learning no matter how long they spend somewhere.

    • Hey Erica!!
      I know exactly what you mean! It’s been my time abroad that I feel like suddenly I’m living the life of 3 human beings because I am learning so much each and everyday. And it’s pretty easy to say why to – I mean, you’re in it, you’re there, your experience it and seeing it and feeling it. Everywhere you look you’re being confronted by new things both bad and good and confusing and beautiful and ugly. It’s just all thrown at you, and you suddenly open your mind up more than you ever knew you could to take it all in.

      And I couldn’t agree more – whether we’re specializing or not, all that matters is we’re learning! That’s what life’s about anyway – learning, and then doing something that matters with what we’ve learned and sharing that knowledge 🙂

  • I don’t know how the world could NOT be my school. There’s so much to experience, share, and learn all around us every day. People, technology, nature, culture, and just plain old life is everywhere. One just needs to ‘wake up’ and see it to start learning. As for me, my blog helps me figure out what it is that I want personally. Letting go, writing, then seeing what I’ve written really helps me put things in perspective. Then there’s all the amazing people I’ve met via Twitter and other social networks who have shared their stories and encouraged me to be myself. I learn so much from them every day. Even my clients teach me what is valuable in the eyes of people not like me. Ah I love who I am, what I do, and the people I talk to.

    • Hey Angela!!
      Absolutely! Honestly, it’s been since I’ve started this blog and dove into to Twitter my life has totally changed. Suddenly everday people come into my life that are teaching me, and pushing me, and showing me how my limits are just an illusion. It’s so amazing and I love it!
      What a great feeling to love who you are, what you do, and the people you talk to! That is so wonderful to hear I can’t even tell you 🙂

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  • Ironically, it wasn’t till after receiving my undergraduate degree that I was really driven to seek out knowledge. My interests are diverse, but centered around the idea of optimal living.

    As I dove deeper into the “real world” I became less concerned about math equations and cell structures and more intrigued by life. A simple four letter word, consisting of endless experiences. I became fascinated by people seeking ways to achieve the most fulfillment out of life.

    That’s when I realized, this world is not about taking the one perfect path. Its about traveling as many paths as you can. It’s about messing up. Trying. Failing. Getting up. Exploring. Navigating the unknown.

    It is in this way that life is the ultimate teacher. I always tell myself that when I get older I want my life to be an autobiography worth reading. Not a story of the perfect house, perfect job, or an attempt to seek out the meaning of life, no, just a book about a kid seeking the feeling of being alive.

    Great idea with the roundtable discussion Lauren! There are so many great perspectives here.