It Turns Out Bewilderment Is The Key To Happiness. In Which Case, I Win.
We must become ignorant of what we have been taught
and be instead bewildered.
Run from what is profitable and comfortable.
Distrust anyone who praises you.
Give your investment money, and the interest
on the capital, to those who are actually destitute.
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
I have tried prudent planning long enough.
From now on, I’ll be mad.
By Rumi, from “A Year With Rumi,” translated by Coleman Barks. (Read entire poem here.)
Sometimes I make decisions that other people immediately find unpalatable.
Like when I told people I was going to Costa Rica for two months in 2010, or when I told people I was meeting an internet friend and staying at a stranger’s house in Charleston just last week. While some people are genuinely supportive and happy when I’m happy, it seems as though because the way I choose to do things is often different from the way other people choose to do things, I sometimes trigger an immediate distaste. Or, if not distaste, then a strong sense of bewilderment which, when left unchecked, often leads to distaste.
So for whatever reason — be it my age, my gender, or even the simple fact that I’m married and maybe shouldn’t be quite so independent, some people find it therapeutic to unfairly judge my decisions based on their own, self-limiting experiences.
And that’s okay.
We’re all still learning, right?
If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen that I booked a room for my visit to Charleston, South Carolina on airbnb.com. Basically, it’s a website where home owners/renters all over the world can rent rooms in their homes — or even their entire homes — to travelers or people relocating to their city. It feels slightly more “secure” than couchsurfing, simply because there’s a money trail involved and, theoretically, the traveler knows a little something about the home in which he/she will be staying. The site is very easy to navigate, and travelers and hosts can set up profiles, receive references and reviews, and even validate identities via licenses or Facebook.
Is safety 100% guaranteed? Of course not.
But neither is getting into my car to drive to the grocery store.
And, in a town where the average hotel room or actual b&b can cost between $200 and $400 per night, I was willing to take my chances.
So, for a whopping $45/night plus the $11 airbnb fee, I got:
A private room with a king-sized bed…
An en-suite private bathroom with shower…
Hotel-like “extras” including toiletries and towels…
Homemade breakfasts of blueberry pancakes and French toast (not pictured — *burp*), and the opportunity to meet and converse with a lovely woman who’s willing to share her home because she could use the extra income and is genuinely excited about meeting people from all over the world. I had to drive over a bridge every morning to get into the city, but had I been willing to spend a bit more, I could’ve booked something within walking distance to many of Charleston’s main attractions.
The airbnb concept is nothing new. In fact, I’m sure the site has thousands of users and will likely keep growing as people realize the mutual benefits that come with renting rooms in private homes. And while I’d still opt for the luxury of a posh, 19th-century inn in the heart of downtown Charleston if it was in my realm of affordability, for now I’ll take the travel itself — however I can get it.
My age-old point is that you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Or worse, openly judge other people for trying new things. Not only did I learn that booking rooms through airbnb is something I’d definitely do again, I was able to meet Stephanie, worldy blogger from My One Precious Life, and longtime reader of my site.
We frolicked through the rain and ate incredible food and explored centuries-old cemeteries and you know what?
People aren’t as scary as you think.
So if there’s one thing I’d like to tell you about this thing called Domestiphobia — one thing you should cup sincerely and safely inside your warm, waiting palms — it’s that you’re going to run into resistance in whatever it is that you do. Especially if whatever you do seems to lie ever-so-slightly outside of the status quo.
But resistance just means that you’re doing it right.
And actually, there are two things.
The other is that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. In fact, experiencing bewilderment is how we learn to thrive. To overcome. To survive. To pat ourselves on the back and say, Hey! Look at YOU! You made it through that! That wasn’t so bad, was it?
There’s a 13th-century Persian poet named Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī. We like to call him Rumi here in the western world, because if we tried pronouncing his real name, people would probably assume we have some type of bronchial infection. Many people believe that Rumi was a complete and total genius when it came to expressing, through the written word (at least as I’ve seen it translated to English), ideal ways to live a happy and prosperous life.
I think many people are right.
LOVE!!!!!!!!!!! This post rocks my world! Isn’t Charleston the best?
It was wonderful!!! I will definitely be going back. Hopefully when it’s not flooding. :)
In case no one has told you today – you are amazeballs. I love your adventures and if I didn’t have a husband and two kids to lug around, I would air bnb all the way around the country:) Life is too short to worry about the “could happens” – live it up girl. xo
YOU are amazeballs, too. And you can still airbnb — just take them with you. ;)
Love this post! You know, some people I know think I’m crazy for moving across the world, embarking on my third career change in three years, or planning to travel the world, but every time these people look at me with distaste I just think of all the thousands of other people living life a little differently and how much happier those people are and it’s clear who’s really crazy! Keep doing what you love, girl (and writing about it ‘cos I love reading about it)!
The world IS change – that’s what people can’t get used to and always seem to get so freaked out about. You’re just embracing it and doing what you have to do to live the life you really want. *NOT* doing that is what’s crazy. ;)
Nailed it! Resistance just means that you’re doing it right. Strong words to live by. Speaking of which I applied for school and just got accepted. Don’t know how i’m going to do it while working full time but whatever. At the end of 4 years i’ll say, “That wasn’t so hard”. Thanks Katie!
Congratulations, Jamie!! What are you going to school for? It’s going to be rough working and going to school full time, but you can totally do it – and when you’re done, you know it will have been SO worth it. :)
Great post (and poem)! I’m glad you have the drive to get out there and do the uncomfortable – I need a little more of that to rub off on me! Thank you for the motivation and keep going since I have to live vicariously through you for a little bit :)
But you DO do the uncomfortable! (Ha, I said do-do.) You still travel more than the average bear, and if there are other things in your life that you want or need to face, I know you’re strong enough to handle those, too. I love that you read my blog – but you do not have to live vicariously through me. You have too many things to do yourself! :)
I’m the same way with a slightly off the wall decision making process (or lack thereof). Haters gon’ hate, while we have fun with our random decisions all over the world! :) Also, LOVE AirBnB.
Yours is (one of the many) travel sites I saw it mentioned on – your airbnb place in Columbia(??) looked fantastic! Cheers to fun. ;)
I’m so glad you came. And one of these days, I might try the air bnb thing too. It does intrigue me. Also, LOVE Rumi.
I don’t think anyone has ever called me worldly before. :)
Well, you ARE. So own it. :)
This is wonderful. Thank you for the reminder – screw the haters and do what you want :)
Exactly! :) (But I’m also weird in that I still hold out hope that the haters will come around, too and find their own happiness. Sickeningly optimistic, I know.)
Yep, I know the feeling. Even when I was traveling alone with a baby/toddler, people just couldn’t understand how or why. I have no regrets and that’s all I care about. ;)
I’m impressed! And good for you — just because others don’t “get” it doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of whatever you find fulfilling. :)