2015 will definitely go down in my record books as the year I did a lot of cool shit. I stood under Christ the Redeemer. I marvelled at Iguazu Falls. I cried in the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I stood in awe where two oceans meet but don’t mix at Cape Point. I watched lions and elephants and so many more animals in the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Temple of Ramesses II in Egypt literally left me speechless. I meditated on a yoga retreat in India. I climbed the Great Wall of China. I got stranded in Hong Kong. And I trained in Muay Thai for a month in Thailand. All awesome and fairly badass.
But what did I learn in 2015? There were some pretty solid takeaways from the year, applicable to everyone, made even more blatantly obvious to me during my travels.
- Life long learning is a real thing. By the time I was leaving Argentina for South Africa, not quite two months into the trip, there was something off that I just couldn’t put my finger on at the time. Two weeks into South Africa I pinpointed exactly what it was. I had just come out of a full-time job, I had been taking courses on my own time for the past two years and I had just spent six months endlessly studying for my PMP exam. Basically, I’d been doing a hell of a lot of learning for the past few years, then suddenly I wasn’t learning anything. Sure, seeing beautiful sites and listening about the history of places may be considered learning, but it’s not intellectually stimulating. Compounded by the fact that I was no longer surrounded by people who were into international affairs, I was in need of some serious learning of some kind. Thankfully once I figured out what the problem was, I was able to fill this void with podcasts, TED talks, PMP webinars and documentaries for the remainder of my trip.
- Our food is shit. Seriously. Our food is absolute shit. Having worked in the food industry for most of my life and having travelled extensively around the globe, I feel mildly qualified to say this without needing a degree in it. In western society, food labeling is quite regulated, we see documentary after documentary about the adverse effects of eating fast food or consuming sugar and salt in exorbitant amounts, and yet we continue to do it. We continue to put this shit in our mouths, of which I was just as guilty of up until a year ago, even though we KNOW it’s harmful to our bodies. Food companies sell their shit products to us under the guise of convenience and we buy into it, even though we all know they’re just trying to maximize profits by extending shelf life and using cheap ingredients. I lost 50lbs in 2015, and I can assure you it wasn’t any drastic lifestyle change. It was eating real food all year that didn’t have chemical or any other kind of additives put in. Between that and drinking a hell of a lot more water, that was all my body has been craving. Ooh look, perfect segway into my next point!
- People really need to care more about water. These days, it seems as if people treat the word renewable as interchangable with infinite. But renewable resources are not infinite. So many countries around the world are having serious water crises, a phenomenon by no means limited solely to landlocked nations. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, they’re under strict water restrictions. We went full days without access to water. We had to go to other sides of town where the water was still on to shower. I became severely ill after swimming in what I know now was (and still is) the dangerously contaminated water of Rio De Janeiro. Of the 11 countries I visited on my around-the-world trip, only one of them, South Africa, had tap water that I could safely drink. In India, even sealed water bottles weren’t safe: water bottles are regularly filled with their local contaminated water and resealed with a sealing machine to sell. Looking out into what is supposed to be the beautiful waterfront of Alexandria, Egypt, all I could see was garbage. I strongly believe that access to clean water should be a universally acknowledged human right, yet companies like Nestle have made us think that even our own clean water in Canada isn’t good enough to drink. Then, we use insane amounts of water as if there’s water a plenty for the whole world! We manage to be excessively wasteful with the clean water we do have access to, contaminate the clean water resources that surround us, and do both with a blatant disregard of how invaluable it is to our daily survival. It’s ****ed up.
All that said. Let’s keep learning, eat clean, and be water-conscious in 2016! It’s easy to do when you make the simple decision to not be lazy anymore.
Oh look. A beautiful beach that made me severely ill. Not so beautiful anymore looking back at it.