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?
THE ROUNDTABLE TALKS:
Emilie 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 Panamericans – Work, 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.
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 Raw – Setting 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 Guide – Learning 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.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
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!!
Invite Others to Join the Roundtable!
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