How open should we be?

Advice for a hitch-hiker might be: Be as open as you can, trust your intuition, empower yourself, learn from others, and enjoy the long, free road!

As a hitchhiker, couchsurfer, solo-cyclist… In fact, as anyone involved in any kind of financially free lifestyle, there are important ways to approach things and valuable lessons to learn. One thing I learnt early on was that it is a deep-rooted philosophy of mine that we should take what we need and give what we can. That means that if you have a roof you can share, you ought to. If you have food to give, do so. If you can spare a seat, you should. And most of these ground rules have come from receiving. From being offered everything from couches to temples, caviar to bread, sports car to back-of-the-truck rides. Such generosity from others spawned in me a firm belief that I must give back whenever I can.

So to suddenly be faced with a living situation involving people who feel quite the opposite about this philosophy, is somewhat disheartening. I am trying to understand more about personal space, about fear of danger, about not wanting to give what you don’t need to… but with no room for compromise it’s feeling awfully bleak. Do we really want to live in fear of ‘something going wrong’? Do we really want to base our choices on the (more unlikely that likely) chance of danger coming our way? Because for every fear we choose to obey, a thousand loves are lost.

We could be living open, living free, giving what we can and taking only what we need. Rejoicing in the goodwill, appreciating the lessons, the stories, the help that travellers can offer us. We could swollow our fears, hitch and be hitched, couchsurf and be couchsurfed, love and be loved. We could do all of this with a clear head and an honest intuition, and in doing so avoid the dangers and reap the benefits.

And we are not powerless, even once an unsavoury situation is upon us. Often, while hitch-hiking or solo travelling, people have asked: “But what would you do if ‘the wrong person’ found you?” My answer is of course, firstly, that I choose not to live in fear, and to project positives… but then I answer: “If something were to happen, I would assert my power, remain calm, and deal with it”. It has happened, once or twice in thousands of interactions, that I found myself with someone who wanted to push a little too far. By following this philosophy and process, it has never turned ugly.

The point is though, I know where I stand when it comes to couch-surfers, hitch-hiking and this giving philosophy. But how to do I stand united with the people I live with, if our foundations are so opposed?


7 thoughts on “How open should we be?

  1. I would say just let you foundations live. Sooner or later people around start to do the same. Empirically proven fact. If not they mostly just disappear from one’s life.

  2. Lilly- I have struggled with your questions most of my life. Being born and raised here ( not that this mode of personal possession in heart and home is limited to ” Amerikans”) I was always shown by my culture that you have to snarl at everyone but your immediate few when they approach your ” stuff” and that you muct live in fear of rape and all the rest- especially if you’re
    a female.
    Like you, I’ve been happy to have experienced other options, eventually settling with children
    ( another biological construct that comes with a host of social ” commandments”) I had to make many compromises that came with interdependence and proximity. They weren’t
    always easy…
    But at middle age, I find that I can give all the freedom I want to others and I am always welcome to take my own but I don’t have the option of adjusting the boundaries of others. It’s
    not their lesson to learn and not my job to teach them.
    I turned it inside out. I carry that vast open-ness inside me. On a small scale, I hope I gave it to my kids, on a grand scale I work everyday at a job with breastfeeding mothers, allowing them to do a thing with confidence that is ( excuse this buzzword) SO EMPOWERING, I feel like all I do is spring cages all day long.
    It’s going to sound incredibly corny but living that relaxed, excited, fearless way, rolling it around with you like an abundant food cart, is the only thing you can do. The only thing you are free to give. Find a way to deliver something from inside yourself when you’re stuck in spaces that feel confined and inflexible to you and you’re still completely free.
    Invariably, you also impact others near you by
    never accepting boundaries.

    Most importantly, get away sometimes and be with other ambassadors of vastness- refortify and remind yourself that you can live in both worlds. That you already do.

    Hoping to meet you in mid August. Ava and I are discussing it. K

  3. To use gardening as a metaphor, the best way to grow a plant is to plant a seed in nourishing soil, in an appropriate place and climate/season. And then love and care for it until it is strong enough to look after itself.

    So, to inspire growth first prepare the soil- this can take a long time; wait for the right season; plant the seed, with enough space around, for it to grow big and strong; nurture the little-un with love and water, from before it has even sprouted; enjoy the magnificence of the special unique being you have helped to grow; if it fails to take hold, with love, start again when conditions are favourable.

    In the mean time, maintaining yourself as a flourishing, fruiting garden, will have a huge effect on the earth around you; maintaining soil, providing shelter and protection, spreading seed, feeding bugs, pollinating flowers, being beautiful and sneakily spreading your roots deeper into the earth to draw up those long-hidden nutrients, for the benefit of all in the space.

    We do our best in each moment, but fear can be as crippling as physical pain. With openness, people will begin to want to be better. Trust. Your seeds are sprouting, but remember they’ll get most of their nutrient from their own soil, you can help by giving what they need, when you can, and otherwise allowing them to grow.


  4. Hi Lily,

    Glad to see you writing again! Your words are very inspiring and remind me there is more out there beyond this area that I unfortunately know so well… full of stupid people that are in too big of a hurry to go nowhere, not caring about anything but themselves. I get out and ride, just to clear my head and to try and forget about others and think about all the things i’d like to do that I haven’t done yet. Freedom sounds pretty good right about now, so i think i’ll shut this piece of junk off and get the bike out and go…



  5. Hey Lily great post really enjoyed reading your words. After being on the road for 2 years I find when I talk to people in fear of the world I tell them my beliefs and its easier cause I am always moving more or less so if its not a nourishing situation or a situation where I feel in constant conflict I would move on to people that are. I think I stand for what I believe but don’t want to spend the blink of a eye of time I have here on earth not enjoying and having my own beliefs grow. So I would say it depends on you if you really want to try to have people understand other ways of living which is very difficult for people set in ways for so long to change or if you want to feel nourished again and spend more time enjoying I would say find those people and change the situation. Wish you the best. ~Kurt from Egypt 🙂

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