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Continuing on from part I and part II

On the morning of day 6, I finally felt it, a shift.

Once again, I was awoken at 4am by the sound of bells rattling unremittingly throughout the courtyard. I opened my eyes, ran my hands over my face, and felt the same heavy feeling in my chest that I do most mornings. It’s a feeling that sits in my chest and weighs on my shoulders. It pecks at me like a nagging burden or obligation that makes facing my day that much more arduous. Most days, I just avoid it in hopes that someday it will just go away. Today was different, however. For the first time, I felt fully aware of the fact that that feeling in my chest was anxiety, plain and simple. I exist with anxiety, it’s a part of me.


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Continuing on from Part I

Kanpur, India — December, 2015

On the first morning, I awoke to darkness, fog and the resounding sound of ringing bells throughout the courtyard. It was 4am sharp and the teacher’s assistants were marching through the residence hall giving everyone a flavor of what to expect for the next ten days. It quickly became apparent that they wouldn’t stop ringing their bells and banging on doors until everyone’s lights were on and we were all up and moving. Pulling my head off my pillow was a challenge every morning, but the first morning was particularly hard. …


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I struggled to keep this piece short so instead, I’m breaking it into three shorter parts.

Kanpur, India — December 2015.

In my first few months of traveling, I had been searching for some way to create space and find peace in my mind. I wanted to break the habits, cycles and ways of thinking that led me to my burnout. But how? I kept hearing about mindfulness and spirituality, but what did they actually mean? I had dipped my toes into meditation via an iPhone app, but I had no idea what I was supposed to be searching for, nor did I have a sense of how I could even start to scratch the surface of so called “mindfulness.” …


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Jaipur, India | November 2015

The yellow and green auto-rickshaw screamed through the streets of Udaipur, the high pitched wale of its horn echoed through each narrow alleyway as its three wheels kicked up a trail of dust behind us. I was running late for my overnight train to Jaipur and the driver wasn’t wasting a second. Each jerk and bump of the ride brought a punch of queasiness to my unsettled stomach as I feudally trying to convince myself that having made it three weeks in India without the notorious “Delhi Belly,” I would evade the inevitable. With a nine-hour train ride ahead of me, I wasn’t about to succumb to it now. …


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*Republished from my private journal, originally written November 2015

The clouds of smoke from each burning mound billowed up like small pillars before evaporating into the dense air. The pungent aromas of waste floated up from the water’s edge of the sacred, but insanely polluted Ganges River, blending with the smell of burning wood and something previously unrecognized, charred flesh. The stench was nauseating. Two cows casually wandered between the flames, consuming flowers and the leftover dried grass used to ignite the fires. …


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Last Thursday, I received the devastating news that a friend and former colleague had taken his own life. Coincidentally, the day before, I visited my old LA headquarters where he was based and was greeted by a number of friendly faces from my past life. Despite the warm reception, I couldn’t help but notice his ominous absence. The lights to his office were turned off, the door was shut, and I heard whispers of concern for his health and well being. No one knew that day would be his last.

As a co-founder of the company, he had developed a reputation as a father figure amongst a team of kids and misfits. He was man of integrity who loved his wife, his two kids, his employees, and his business. He was one of the kindest souls I had encountered in the otherwise cutthroat digital media industry and if he was guilty of anything, it was of caring too much. Whether it was remembering employee’s birthdays, bringing boxes of breakfast burritos to the office in the morning, or doing his best to make new employees feel like part of the family, he made incredible efforts to bring happiness to the workplace. …


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Bhutanese women socialize while building houses as a community

*Republished from my private journals, originally written November 2015.

As my ten days in Bhutan came to an end yesterday, I finally started putting together all the notes that I had scratched down about this incredibly unique place. Bhutan, more formally known as The Kingdom of Bhutan, is a small country with a population of only 700,000 that has been recognized as “the happiest country on Earth” thanks to its famed concept of Gross National Happiness. What makes Bhutan so different is that until 10 years ago, it was a closed monarchy that was almost completely isolated from outside influence. The country has operated with minimal modern conveniences and much of the labor and agriculture were done by hand. Over the last decade, however, since Bhutan’s Fourth King seceded the country’s total monarchy in favor of a constitutional monarchy, the country has slowly opened its borders and society to both tourism and foreign investment. …


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Up until 10 years ago, the small reticent nation of Bhutan sandwiched between the giant nations of India and China was ruled by a closed monarchy that kept the country completely isolated from globalization and foreign influence. The country operated with minimal modern conveniences and much of the labor and agriculture were done by hand. Over the last decade, however, since Bhutan’s Fourth King seceded the country’s total monarchy in favor of a constitutional monarchy, the country has slowly opened its borders and society to both tourism and foreign investment. The result is a culture that, while still deeply rooted in its protectionist and Buddhist traditions, is in the early stages of a massive transition towards modernization.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. friends and family from New Zealand! Republishing this one from my private journals, originally published in November 2016.

I can’t say it’s been 100% intentional, but since the beginning of my Pit Stop, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time thinking, reading, discussing, and writing about happiness. I’ve crossed paths and exchanged ideas with many people on similar journeys and by virtue of being in Central Asia, especially during my time in Bhutan, Buddhist and other Eastern teachings have been ever present. Spiritual and philosophical explorations have been a fairly new thing for me, but so far I’ve found that all roads, whether Eastern or Western philosophies, lead to one thing; the pursuit of happiness. The Dalai Lama states that he believes the very purpose of life is happiness, which would be to say, the pursuit of happiness is shared by most, if not all, of man kind. Can you really argue with that? …


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*Republished from my private journals, originally written in November 2015

Solo travel seems to be one of those things that is only truly understood once you do it. Even before my Pit Stop, the most common question I’d get when talking to people about my solo travels, whether at home or abroad, was why do I do it alone. “Don’t you get lonely?” “Don’t you want to share those moments with people you care about? My answer has always been, “sure, but it’s intentional loneliness.”

About

Adriaan Zimmerman

Co-Founder of HelloNed.com. Entrepreneur, advisor, wanderer, writer, and photographer.

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