It’s A Small Big World After All

It’s A Small Big World After All

Have you ever run into someone, somewhere that you never would have expected? The first bucket list item that I can cross off comes with a story that spans more than 1042 kilometers.

But let me take you to the beginning…

During my childhood, I always went to the same camping on holidays. Year after year Camping Solmar in Blanes was the place where you could find me. I had the most wonderful times there.

Camping Solmar’s Pool

If you are somewhat into camping, you’ll know that you can find Dutch people all around the world. However, it is way harder to find Belgian people camping. That’s why it was so remarkable to meet 4 other Belgian families on the same site, especially in Blanes, so far away from home.

We automatically bonded with the other families and got to know each other well. It wasn’t long before we started doing things together. I even found out that I just met Jean-Marie Pfaff’s sister. For who doesn’t know Jean-Marie, he was one of Belgium’s best football keepers ever. He was also a hot topic back then because he had a reality show with his family.

Anne, the sister that we’d met, was hardly ever in the show. That’s why we didn’t know she was family at first. As a kid I got starstruck all the time. And since she’s the sister of someone famous, I almost treated her different than a regular John Doe. I didn’t though, because she was so humble and down-to-earth. I met up with her at camp for the next few years, until I stopped going to Spain due to the economic crisis.

The last time I was in Spain I got sunburned all over my body.

“The best moments are unplanned, random and spontaneous.”

Time flew by and 3 years later I went to a party where a special guest was expected to arrive.

When he arrived, half the room went to see him. But I kept on dancing as I’m not getting starstruck that easy anymore. I also don’t have the patience or will to stand as a sheep in line waiting for an autograph or picture. I rather like it when things happen spontaneously.

If something is meant to be, it will happen. I even didn’t know who the special guest was, until my friends came back with their picture. As you already guessed, it was Jean-Marie Pfaff…

Special guests usually don’t stay for the whole night, so I figured I probably wouldn’t meet him. I was totally fine with that thought. So I continued partying, until an hour later when I urgently needed to take a leak.

One drunk picture is acceptable 🙂 Sorry Maxim HAHA

I was so drunk that I got lost searching for the toilet. After I finally found the toilets, I got lost again returning to the party. Yeah, it seems okay to say that I’m not the sharpest tool of the shed when I’m drunk. As even a fox is not taken twice in the same snare..

With the thought of entering the right room, I stumbled upon a photographer. Without fully realizing the session had already ended, I stood next to Jean-Marie ready for a picture to be taken. I had a smile on my face where even ‘the joker’ would be jealous of. Waiting for the shot, nothing happened the next minute. Then it finally hit me, no one was waiting in line anymore and the photographer was packing up to leave.

Since I already made a fool of myself, I began making small talk with Jean-Marie. Probably in the hope of getting rid of me, he polity talked back. While the photographer was packing out again, I was telling him the story of  ‘How I met your sister’.

*Flash*.

Jean-Marie Pfaff & Me

The photographer had taken his last picture of the night. I did my best to flash the soberest smile I could. As there are already enough weird pictures of me on the internet.

After the photo was taken, it was time to go on our own path. But not before concluding it’s indeed a small big world after all..

This story proves that the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a more then just a game or theory. I like to believe it’s a fact. So watch out, I’m only 6 persons away from you!

Don’t travel alone with your best friend!

Don’t travel alone with your best friend!

The word ‘travel’ must be the most uplifting word in the dictionary. It makes you instantly think about exotic places all over the world while giving you such a warm feeling inside. It has no negative connotations whatsoever.

But travel with your best friend and there is a good chance you’ll hate the thought of traveling and may never want to travel anywhere again in your entire life.

Traveling itself is something so wonderful. We all enjoy the time we spend on trips. It’s the one last thing we have in common with our forefathers. We still like to explore and see new things. You can’t deny it; it’s in our DNA. We might not be nomadic anymore, but we like to wander around, even if it’s just in the mall.

We all travel for different reasons. In some countries it’s part of the culture. Some go on journeys for self-discovery, while others travel to see the sun or snow for the first time. Most just go on vacation. But whatever your reason may be, you know it makes sense to you!

But beware: Wherever, whenever, don’t ever travel alone with your best friend!

The worst nightmare you could ever endure with your best friend would be traveling together.

In some cases you’ve already made plans in high school to go together on that first journey without the parents. You can’t help but think that traveling with your best friend would be absolutely amazing and wonderful.

You plan and talk endlessly about your upcoming adventure. Your friendship becomes even stronger even though you never thought that would be possible. Days slowly pass by. You wake up every morning with the trip in mind. Basically, you would like to leave right now already.

Life is so amazing, that you can spot unicorns all around you. Angels are falling from the sky.

What could ever spoil our trip together, huh? We know each other so damn well.

Hmm, what about leaving together but coming back alone, all torn apart? To never hear again from your best friend, the one you went traveling with.

I’ve seen this many times before. Broken relationships, friendships ended… If you ask what happened, they tell you, “We went on vacation.” I get it instantly.

But what causes these problems?

I would say it’s because you discover the real you and you see for the first time your friend’s true personality. You just can’t hide who you really are and all of your flaws for two weeks or more.

You may compare traveling with moving in together and having to live with each other. Each person is unique and that’s just fine. However, you unconsciously expect your best friend to have the same interests that you have, all of the time. You basically want he or she to be another you.

You might think that it’s only the big things that can cause such troubles, like stealing money. But, the truth is that it’s the little things that cause all the mess.

Throwing clothes on the floor, leaving the toothpaste open. Not being as organized as the other. Taking a nap when the other wants to be active. Not walking at the same pace. Wanting to do something else. Being too possessive or not as social as the other.  Even the most ridiculous things cause fraction.

Things you would be okay with in your own place because you have room to yourself. But on a trip you feel obligated to stick with each other and committed to making the best of the situation.

If you don’t take time for yourself by spending time apart, it gets even worse. You can suddenly become so frustrated that even the tiny birthmark on the other person’s face bothers you. You’re one word away from exploding in flames and blurting out filthy words. And of course, there is always that last straw that breaks the camel’s back…

You’ve both had it! Enough is enough!

And there you are, with every cell in your body seething with anger.  You feel all alone when you actually expected to have the time of your life. You’re in a state of shock.

There are 2 choices at that point, like everything else in life. You can either decide to take an earlier flight home to just get away or decide to split apart for the rest of the trip and just see what happens when you meet up again on the same plane home. Either way you look at it, your vacation is ruined and so is your friendship.

In the worst-case scenario, you might never see your best friend again. But most often you find yourselves trying to talk it out afterwards. Sometimes you honestly think you succeeded in talking it out.

Just to later find out that the friendship has snapped, and it will never be the same as it was before.

So, trust me, just don’t go on that trip!

I’m speaking from my own personal experience, as you can tell by this story.

If you want to test out how strong your connection is then it’s best to be open and talk to each other. Give each other some room to function well. Take care of yourself and be a bit selfish. Especially on the first trips you take, you should go either solo or with a group. That way a lot of drama can be avoided.

There are exceptions of course. So, if your relationship survived the trip, be thankful for that. And don’t ever take it for granted! Because you do have something unique!

The Story Of My Life: Against All Odds

The Story Of My Life: Against All Odds

I’m the prototype of the typical local city boy. Or at least, I was!

About 26 years ago I was born in the concrete jungle of Belgium. And while growing up, my entire youth took place within a radius of 6 miles.

Can you imagine this, only 6 miles of this enormous world? Everything I did & needed was right at my feet, just a single fart away from home.

But rather then complaining, I want to believe I had a better childhood than most kids these days. I was lucky enough to be able to make my own mistakes, since my parents gave me that freedom.

I spent most of my spare time and holidays on the streets. While most of my peers enjoyed staying at home playing inside, I went on little adventures. Climbing trees & building forts became almost daily routine.

Thank God that technology wasn’t that evolved back then!

Childhood was such an amazing time. Having no worries and just doing the things you love to do.

A LOST BOY

But the older I got, the more everything seemed to fall apart…

BAM! Adulthood came kicking into in my life.

Without any warning my entire life changed. All of a sudden, I lost my connection with the world around me. Before I was even aware of it, I got lost in the system & trapped in the rat race.

You know how the story goes… Careers, girlfriends, babies or just life in general drifts all of us in another direction. Anyhow, I really struggled with all the changes adulthood brought me.

I get it, at a certain age you are expected to mature and live life like we know it. Fitting into the system & doing the things everyone else does.

But what if you don’t even know who you are?

I had no real ambitions toward a successful career, as I hadn’t figured it out what I loved doing. For some worthless reason I stumbled into carpentry in school.

And to this day, that’s the only regret I have, that I didn’t follow the right path academically.

If I had a time machine, I would be a vet right now…

However, getting a job was always easy. But those crappy jobs never gave me any satisfaction, and that’s why I always quit them faster than you can say “Jack Robinson.”

My inner voice always told me to do something meaningful, something that gives satisfaction. Something that changes lives or at least makes a difference.

The only problem, what?

SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED

So life wasn’t working out for me. I wasn’t moving forward at all. At that time my comfort zone was shrinking each day. At one point my comfort zone was from the couch to the fridge, and I’m not kidding.

As result, I gained tons of weight. At my worst, I weighed 264 lbs. Days were passing by without me in them. I wasn’t acting on all of the possibilities life had given me.

Based on society’s views of success, I was simply a loser. No house, no wife, no job, no driver license and being that fat. Even though I had my own view of success, it was hard dealing with the judgment. I could literally read on people’s faces, that I was one of the biggest losers they’d ever met.

Some even said it out loud…

Most were just giving me “good” advice. The amount of advice was endless. It seemed everyone else knew my life better then I did. But I do not blame anyone for this, it’s just the way we were raised…

Afraid of this big scary world, I found myself on the wrong side of rock bottom. I felt I’d lost the most important thing to me: myself. 

SOMETHING NEEDED TO CHANGE.

I really was on the brink of death. I was broke & broken.

I urgently needed to figure things out before it was too late. No matter what, I couldn’t live this way any longer. It was time to move forward and leave the past behind.

So, what changed ?

There is a saying, “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks“.

And the same applies to humans. Adults only learn through massive trauma. And trauma was what changed me. I experienced several panic attacks in one single weekend. I still believe I was on the edge of passing out.

During those attacks, my mind shifted. While suffering, I convinced myself that I still had something inside me. I wasn’t done yet. I still had things to offer. That weekend was very fussy so I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to survive.

My mind refused to give up, and for the first time I didn’t quite on something…

PICKING UP THE BROKEN PIECES

That very next Monday, I started to build myself up again. Trying to pick up the pieces, I went on my first journey, one of self-discovery.

The entire week I cut off my electronics & stayed in a forest to find my life’s purpose. All I had with me was a pen & paper. I was so committed, to search deep down within myself, to be alone with myself and only my thoughts. This was gonna be a fight inside me. Me against me.

I began to let my thoughts wonder, thinking about what made me happy. I had no limits this time and no boxes to fit into. Everything was & is possible. Long story short, a few topics or experiences gave me joy in life. “Wildlife, traveling & culture” were the things that made me happy.

With this in mind I figured out what my life long dream was:

Going to places with amazing people while having the best (spontaneous) experiences one can only imagine. And on that journey, helping other people to achieve their dreams and goals.

MORE EXCUSES THEN A PREGNANT NUN

But the habit of being afraid quickly took over again. Afraid to fail, I already began making excuses. That it wasn’t possible, that I would become a hobo and die on the streets. All of the worst scenarios were playing in my mind. Still afraid to attack my goals, I was stuck between a world full of dreams and the sad reality.

Time passed by and I began to daydream more and more about traveling the world, wildlife & adventures. I’m glad I had those, as they were first steps toward my journey. But reality always kicked in harder and harder when I finished daydreaming.

Freedom is the key to happiness.

RUNNING OR LIVING

I was about to leave everything behind (including debts & problems) to explore the world. But that would be running away, instead of living my dream. So, I began fixing my problems and paying my debts until I was ready to approach the world.

I needed to find a way to survive on the road. By searching the Web I found that it was possible by creating a successful blog & using all kind of other tricks. In the past I would have never believed in this concept or even believed in myself.

But things have changed for the better & since I wanted to travel so desperately, I gave it my all. I took that one shot that I would pass on in the past.

To be honest, I’m glad I found a solution for my problems instead of running away. Because now I can travel with a free mind, without having to look back at all.

While most might have a “successful life”, I live & have freedom.. And that’s all I can wish for.

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