Do you ever have those moments in your life where you feel like you’re living in a dream?
I’ve been alive for 10,921 days and today was (hands down) the best day of my entire life.
This is why…
Spontaneous Eye Contact With a Stranger
On my flight from the States to Madrid, I read a book that says when you make spontaneous eye contact with a stranger, it is a sign you should talk to them.
In the past, my eyes would usually dart away, I would look down towards the ground, and I would carry on with the rest of my day by myself.
That never led to exciting experiences.
Getting Lost in Travel
I just got off a 200 kilometer bus ride to Malaga, Spain where I’m spending the weekend for my first solo-trip. I packed my backpack with my clothes, wallet, cell phone, and nothing else.
On the southern coast of Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean, the landscape is filled with 70 degree sunshine, clear blue skies, palm trees, and relaxing Arabic music playing harmonically in the background of the gift shops and high-end restaurants of this modern and luxurious costal city.
A cruise ship’s air horn echoes through the harbor.
I have an hour to kill before I can check into the hostel, so I walk down to the beach.
As I’m walking on the glossy-stone boardwalk, I notice a girl with a camera taking scenic photos of the palm trees and the city-scape, which is now melting into the distance.
The view of her: eyes lost in the window of the camera, hand adjusting the zoom, warm pleasant smile on her face, lost in the present moment, could blind anyone from the most picture-perfect views directly behind her. Palm trees, pure white houses, and a crystal clear ocean landscape for hundreds of miles around. What they would see in this moment would be the perfect shot of someone truly living in the present moment, which could easily make its way on the cover of any magazine.
I walk down to the beach for a few minutes to record a YouTube video for my channel.
I begin walking back and notice the girl with the camera sitting on a bench nearby, looking at her photos with the happiest smile on her face. She didn’t look Spanish, so she must be lost in travel as well.
I wonder where she’s from.
As I walk down the boardwalk towards the mountains in the distance, about 50 steps later, something inside me pulls me to look back for a brief moment.
In this moment, we both make spontaneous eye contact with a stranger.
I have to say hi.
“Do you speak English?” I say with a happy smile on my face.
“I do.” Aneta replies.
For the next 8 hours, two strangers get lost in travel together. With the occasional question about the past or future, most of the day was spent going on random adventures, stopping to take photos together, enjoying each other’s presence, and simply…experiencing life together.
My companion is from Czech, is interning as a tour guide in Malaga, and has a passion for travel and photography. She speaks Czech, English, Spanish, and about 8 words of German.
Our day together begins with geocaching up some mountain outside of the city, walking through a park, smelling green oranges, and then hiking back down to the beach where we grab a drink and walk barefoot through the water together.
I briefly mention that I only walked to the beach before checking into my hostel at 1:30 p.m.
Looking down at her watch, she points out that I missed my checkin time hours ago.
Time ceases to exist and we are lost in the present moment.
As we’re sitting on some rocks, looking off into the distance, I talk about how I’m a writer and that I publish my own magazine for a living; providing me the freedom to travel as I work.
She begins talking about how she used to read a lot of magazine articles, but not so much anymore for a list of reasons.
Reflecting on her words, I immediately noticed some of the same mistakes I’ve been making in my magazine business. Little does she know how that one spontaneous statement may have just changed the course of my business and life forever.
I am forever grateful.
When Life Feels Like a Dream
For years on end, I always dreamed of being a location-independent entrepreneur who is free to travel the world.
I always wanted to hop on a bus, train, or plane, and arrive in a beach-front paradise and meet an adventurous and positive girl to explore a foreign culture. In this dream, we would get along great from the very beginning and go on spontaneous adventures together, see the sights of the city with no timeline, plan, or care in the world.
My entire life, this has been nothing more than a dream…
We would see a unique restaurant and sit down for dinner, and then share some drinks together.
If we were walking by something that stands out, we would make eye contact, smile, and both know we have to go see it without a word needing to be said.
I always had dreams of of getting Lost in Travel.
Conversations Over Dinner
As we are sitting on some chairs, drinking tropical drinks after dinner; I notice myself commenting out loud “I feel like I’m literally living in a dream.” on more than one occasion.
It felt like, in this moment, life wasn’t even real.
It wasn’t until later that night when I realized why it felt that way…
As we walk to my hostel, the receptionist who speaks fluent english made the comment “Oh, Andrew. You’re the last to check in.” Luckily there was a reservation for me and I had a place to stay for the night.
Shortly before we parting ways, we are walking through the city around 9 p.m. and we notice an elderly couple walk out of a cathedral-type building.
My friend and I make eye contact, smile, and spontaneously walk in the gigantic doors, not knowing what’s in store for us on the other side.
I’ve never really went to church since I was a child, but the inside of this church was nothing like anything I’ve ever seen back in the States. The artwork and atmosphere was absolutely amazing as the priest said some words or prayer in a language I didn’t understand.
I just followed what everybody was doing, but mostly taken away by the views.
After walking Aneta back towards her apartment and saying goodnight, our departure didn’t feel like a goodbye; despite me only being in this city for one more night.
Something inside felt like I was going to be back…
As I finally get settled into my hostel, I am in a room shared with a few other people. At first I’m scared to leave my backpack in the room as I go out, but after getting settled in, I began feeling more comfortable.
The only one in the room at the time was Pavel; who also happens to be from Czech and is fluent in English.
He talks about a pub crawl that the hostel is sponsoring at 11:30. For 10 Euros, a group of ten people go around to five different bars that night and get a free drink or two at each.
The time is now 11:20, and being so used to American culture, I rush to get ready so I won’t be late.
Pavel is nowhere to be found after I brush my teeth, but I notice a group of people talking downstairs in some language I don’t understand. I smile at them and ask them if they speak English.
Everybody, regardless of what country they are from seems to speak English here.
The group promptly leaves for the pub crawl an hour and a half later at 1:00 in the morning, and I begin getting to know the various people I’m with:
- Nicole is from Switzerland but speaks German.
- Her boyfriend is from Switzerland as well, and just began kissing some other girl in front of her.
- They are in an open relationship.
- Pavel reappeared before we left for the bars (from Czech).
- Sasha from Russia – She likes to dance.
- Sasha from Australia – She’s vegan.
- Two guys from Brazil, a drunk guy from Greece, but looks Finnish.
- And the drinks begin to kick in.
Being my first time traveling alone out of the country and definitely my first time staying in a hostel, my questions naturally go towards travel. Asking where people are from, where they went, and what they like the most.
Amazing stories from all across the world begin to roll in.
Drinks turning into conversation turning into dancing turning into more conversation turning into a falafel an french fries at (who knows what hour) in the morning turning into waking up on the top bunk at my hostel at 9:00 in the morning.
As I’m finishing up writing this, I’m about to go visit the Picasso Museum and perhaps see the palace before my bus departs Malaga later today. Onto the next leg of my journey through Europe this year of 2016.
Pavel and I spent a couple minutes talking about traveling the world, his experiences in Southeast Asia, and how I should add Thailand to my list of trips. I add him on Facebook, knowing that we will get in contact and talk about travels every once in a while, not sure if we will ever meet again.
The last thing we talked about before he left is about living in the present moment; which is difficult to do, with movies playing in my mind of all day yesterday…but those memories are the very things that stay with us for our entire lives, and often times provide us an escape from the present moment hangover we are feeling right now.
Something tells me I’m going to come back to this city once again; and I think I know why…
Life is an Art
I was never one to be into art, but seeing the Picasso Museum was one of those life-altering experiences.
I got yelled at in Spanish for taking that picture inside the museum. Let’s keep this photo a secret between us 😉
I’m also a writer.
I write books on happiness, entrepreneurship, personal development, veganism, and a lot of other non-fiction topics. Up until today, my books have been more of a science; than an art.
At one of the exhibits, the translator in my headset quoted Pablo Picasso saying that all too often many people try to interpret the artwork; and make meaning of it. It also said that when he reaches different stages of a painting, it’s not as if one painting is a better version of the other. Each stage of the painting is a unique form of art in itself.
There is no finished piece.
I feel like going forward in my journey, I’m going to turn my writing more into an art. To be true. To be authentic. To never aim to have a finished piece, but to continue to put myself out there.
To realize that there is no destination; simply stages of existance and to just simply be an artist and continuous flow through life on phase at a time.
Live in the present moment.
Key Takeaway from the Trip
1. Living the Dream – I felt like I was in a dream, because I was actually living my lifelong dream.
2. Spontaneous Eye Contact With a Stranger – When you make spontaneous eye contact with a stranger, don’t view it as a coincidence and say hi! It might just turn into one of the best days of your entire life!
3. Building a Brand – Life is an art. It’s time to express yourself more for who you authentically are.
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