Living in Cognitive Dissonance

“hey dude, in tonga.  heading to n.z. in about 6 weeks. want to go?” -Captain John, S/V Cacafuego

I have been living in cognitive dissonance ever since I arrived on land.  All around me is the American struggle and everybody is either doing it – vying for success and looking for jobs, or just lounging around.  I get so tired of it.  What are you people struggling for?  What the fuck are you trying to get out of this life?  I can almost let it brainwash me when a fraternity tries real hard to get me to join, or I listen too closely to an extroverted professor.  They don’t know shit.

Nobody knows anything.

Last February my family and I made the crossing from Panama to the Galapagos Islands on our 38 foot catamaran.  It took us seven days.  Those seven days, and the following three weeks in the Galapagos, was the happiest month of my life.  While in Santa Cruz I was dating a local girl, meeting all kinds of interesting people every single day, and not worrying about a single thing.  I knew I was in a unique place and would never find another like it.  I seriously considered dropping my college plans and just moving in with my Galapagonian princess, continuing to work on the tugboats every other month, and starting something in the islands.

What kept me from it is I thought that it might be copping out.  Would Einstein, would Martin Luther King, would any of those guys want to hole up in one of the most isolated places on the planet?  I think the real answer is they would have done what was going to make them happy at the time.

Who knows.  I might have gotten miserable there after a month and depressed that I didn’t go to school.

I will sometimes complain to a friend that this is the longest I have been in one place in the past 4 years.  The response I get is: “well, you have a life here now.”  My response is that I am building a life here now.

The life I want is just what Captain John is doing.  The quote at the top, I received in an email from him last semester.  How am I supposed to respond to that?  Of course I want to go.  What am I missing?

Money and time.  It is going to take some money.  But I am working on that.  Building businesses, invisible and automated businesses, is my goal.  Joining my father on another Pacific Crossing, joining John in Micronesia – that will be a life.  Not this shit.  Not sucking dick at a college, pampering for kudos from professors and trying to sign on to organizations for resume building.  Not taking shit from some Calculus TA.

Spend seven days on the Pacific Ocean on a boat where there isn’t a person around you for a thousand miles that doesn’t matter and you will know what is important.  While here I am constantly reminded of the story of Robert Graham, who left to sail around the world at 16 and completed his circumnavigation before starting college at Stanford.  He didn’t even last his freshman year.  He started a life in the woods of Montana with his wife that he met while abroad, living life “as it was meant to be lived.”  His experience kept him light years apart from his peers and he couldn’t handle it.

Did he make the right choice?

3 thoughts on “Living in Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Really interesting post. Did he make the right choice? Me personally, whether he made the right choice, or I make the right choice on what to eat, its only up to the person making that choice whether its right or not. Everybody develops their own perception of right and wrong based on their unique past experiences. Your experience on traveling to Santa Cruz shapes your thoughts on whether staying in college or in the same location for so long (for you personally) feels right or not…. compared to a frat kid or student that has lived his/her entire life in the same neighborhood, completely different perceptions.

    Making the right choice is all about you and what you feel, your goals and dreams, etc. Don’t let others determine whether you made the right choice. Life is about experiencing, make the choice, and live/enjoy/experience it.

    I must admit, I admire your travels! Sounds pretty awesome!

  2. Wow. Where to start? There are so many ideas explored in this post. I wish you would break them down and explore them furthur in future posts.

    Don’t get discouraged about knowing what path to take. ALL young people feel this pressure constantly. It forces us to ponder our situation and evolve. Always make choices that give you more options. As Paul Graham alays says, “Stay upwind” and Robert Greene says, “avoid corners”

    As for living isolated in the open (watch into the wild) true happiness is best when shared. So true. Humans are wired for tribal existence. We need others around us to challenge ourselves. The highest human need according to Maslow, is for self actualization, the desire to become the best you can be. This is why big cities are so appealing. It’s a constant game of self improvement. It’s grueling and soul crushing at times but empowering. Some thrive in it while others avoid it. You need to decide if this is a driving force in your life or not.

    You are a bit cynical about fraternities. I dropped out of one sophomore year and it was a huge mistake. I didn’t understand at the time what a fraternity gives you. Social IQ. In a world where the socially savvy are far better equipped. I missed out on a huge social development process that could have been beneficial early on in my life. You might want to give it a shot.

    Best of luck.

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