You’ve got to serve your self

We all dream of going on a daring adventure, stepping out of our day-to-day lives so we can live out in the world with an exciting new reality, where our mood is as capricious as our environment. After deciding to claim just that a year ago, my anxious pre-journey mind fantasized about what incredible adventures lay ahead, what challenges I would face, and ultimately what stories I would have to tell in the end. Biking through Romania provided no shortage of adventures; from standing off with a pack of vicious herd dogs in the middle of an isolated rolling meadow, to dragging my 60 kg heap of gear through a kilometer long mud pit in an insect infested forest, to getting lost in a dated Romanian village being led by my compass and shouts in a foreign language. I had gotten everything I was looking for, but it wasn’t until attempting the Transfagasan Highway, Romania’s highest and most grueling road that I started to realize what I was truly looking for while still stuck in my mundane, adventure-less American setting.

My approach of the highway was laden with fear. The night before, I biked up to the base of the mountain so I would give myself adequate time to get through the pass the following day. I left the town just before the mountains late in the day, my rear wheel hub has snapped after the strain I had put on it going through tracks of road that certainly weren’t worthy of making it on a map, so I had apprehensions about whether the road would even be accessible and whether I was prepared for the trip. I cycled down through lush fields as the sun set, checking my map to see where I’d be entering. I eased up on the pedals as I approached the ominous arched sign over the road, “Highway 7C”, the road snapped sharply off the highway and pointed directly to the mountains I’d been looking at for the past few hours. I pedaled slowly through the night as bats flew over head, the moon kissed the ridge of the mountains, illuminating its peaks poetically as dogs barked in the distance. As I rolled my bike into a farm to set up camp, I heard the sound of angry sheep dogs intensified as they ran towards me in the dark, I jolted back to the road and sped away avoiding attack. After about an hour of playing this game with the dogs in the dark, I finally found a spot where I went undetected. I woke up early morning to a downpour, an extra seed of doubt for the ride ahead. As I started cycling to the mountains, the clouds parted but the intense feelings of fear and doubt didn’t. As I pushed up a steep incline in the cold wetness, I tried to figure out why there was so much misery surrounding the day, both in my mind and in reality. Was this opening my soul, what was the lesson in the frustration I was facing? After a grueling day of consistent uphill pedaling and forewarnings of fear by passing motorists, I sat at the top of the mountain face, overlooking a cascading waterfall and began to contemplate why I was facing so much frustration when I was getting everything I wanted, all the adventure I could’ve hoped for. It was there in my broken state that I realized by manifesting adventure for my ego, I had lost contact with manifesting the inherent joy that I thought the adventure would provide.

Every step we take through life, we have the choice of intending for either of our two separate selves, our lower self, which is the make up of our ego, and our higher self, which is what we know exists below our frustrated longing and needy behavior. As I sat at the base of Romania’s longest tunnel, which shot through the peak of the mountain, I realized that while I had effectively manifested everything I’d been intending, a feeling of adventure, listless endurance and accomplishment, it didn’t matter because I had lost touch with the part of me that really mattered, the part of me that is content without all the adventure and glory. Our focus and energy can create everything we want in life, but if we are creating through the ego, we may find that the things we end up with don’t actually create the expected fulfillment. There is a balance that exists in life when we connect with our higher self, our soul which has no association to physical and social needs, where we become whole and complete as we need to be, and our creation for the lower self becomes something secondary to what we already have inside. I realized where my intentions had led me, I had been facing this challenge as a way to serve my ego and had lost touch with the real connection to the magic of life. By intending something for my lower self, the process of creating it in my life led to a whole slew of negative feelings and insecurities. Even though it eventually became my reality, it had encapsulated my focus of energy, leading me further away from my higher self. The word ‘selfishness’ sets out to scorn the person who thinks about getting something for themselves, making it seem that by being selfish, we need to compete for, fight with and even steal everything that resides outside of us. The distinction here that needs to be made is that selfishness is only bad when a person is intending for their lower self, but the act of selfishness in intending for the high self is the key to joyful creation and prosperity in the world. Being selfish for our higher self creates the energy that makes people do kind things for strangers, give their time openly to help with no concept of loosing out, and is the definition of positive energy in the world. That’s why I think the world needs to start being more selfish, because if we can’t find the soulful energy in ourselves, we will find ourselves grasping at the destructive demands of our other self in order fill that void.

All it took was to check-in with myself and understand that the pain and fear was coming out of choosing to serve the wrong self, and I was able to instantly switch gears. I may have been switching gears downhill that day, but the change in mindset allowed me to climb higher into the self that matters. When you focus on connecting with your soul, your higher self, the part of you that needs no approval, no stories, outcomes or change, you will be surprise by the daring adventure you’ll be led down.

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23 comments

    • Thanks man, much love. No adventure will compare to me, you, Dee, Bre, and Euroslavs romp around the Pagration. Some one of a a kind good times! Thanks for supporting brother and we got to catch up my friend!

      Peace dude,
      Brandon

  1. Always pumped when I see a post man! Beautiful vistas! I love that sequence at the end of the video too. Right now I’m perusing the warm showers website and going to make an account. Following your journey in this way is amazing. There are so many people that would love to make the jump, but the overwhelming pressures of life get in the way. I was looking at pictures of that highway you took. Holy crap! Definitely seems like the adventures never stop rolling. The understanding and insight into your own life is incredible. Too often there’s so much noise and too many distractions for us to look into ourselves and understand our own pain, fear, hopes, dreams, and desires.

    • Yea dude, warm showers is money, because they are all cycling tourists or aspiring cycling tourist, so the hospitality is amplified because they are nostalgic about their post trip or excited about their future ones. It’s also great because you can just call them directly with Skype and show up at their doorstep that day, a true marvel of technology.

      Dude, very true that the adventures haven’t stopped rolling, but the adventures haven’t stopped since that faithful cold Chicago night after salsa, when we became clear about what the back office really was, how we were stuck in the Illusion and the proverbial cork so to say was officially popped. Once again, since taking this trip, I’ve realized why the only books Tim Ferriss took with him on his gallivant were self reliance and vagabonding, because it really is the key to finding all of the answers, just digging inside and examining our own worlds. So that’s what the true adventure really is, deciding to listen to ourselves instead of the opinions of the world, and that adventure can be experienced in a orphanage in Bangladesh or a coffeeshop in Bucktown. But might as well experience urself in an interesting setting!

      Enjoy your last months in Chicago, because I promise it will be a while til you get back,

      Peace maynard!

      Brandon

    • Brandon

      Thanks man, it’s also my dream to be the next Hullberry Fin, that’s why I’ve decided to trade in my German engineers trekking bike for a wagon and have invested in a pair of overalls. I hope to have my transformation completed by the next post.

      Love you dude,

      Beej

  2. Awesome post man, really touched me because I have actually been feeling very similarly lately. The ego has a sneaky way of hijacking the intention our higher self has to do things that align with who we truly are, and serve in the process. I have really lost touch with what the part of me who wanted to embark on this path to begin with because it’s gotten so attached to what’s attempting to be manifested. It’s a struggle to create your desired reality for the joy of creation, not to prove anything to yourself or validate your ego. As I reflect on all of this, what I’m realizing is how alike we all really are, regardless of our path. The inner journey we face as we embark on a path that is aligned with our true self elicits a very similar struggle and frustration in all of us. Props for blazing your own path, pursuing it in spite of all resistance and inspiring others just by being. Keep your head up and lets talk soon. Hit me up on fb with your skype name.

    • Dude, that’s why I write and put myself out there because it’s such a transcendent experience to realize that we all have the same internal struggle and true desires, so always really glad to hear from you and know that you’re going through the same steps. I was really interested to find how hard it became to connect with the loving energy that I had an abundance of before leaving home once I really starting the journey, but it’s interesting how once you start walking down the path is creates so much friction and connecting spiritually becomes very hard. But I think that is the key to the path, the more contrast and difficult you have connecting with that feeling, the more energy you put into claiming it, so eventually you will be able to connect with it in any circumstance, and you will be less affected by situations that are trying to lead you back into the unfulfilling confides of the lower self. This difficult can also cause people to give up and believe that the pursuit is useless, so it’s good to understand that our problems are actually our solution and any feelings of resigning would just be allowing the ego to win the battle. So the frustrations and struggle we experience on the path, is actually the WORK that we are doing towards further freeing our soul. A very wise man in Israel said something that stuck with me and it makes the hard times I feel less like a struggle. I asked him is there was a breaking point in spiritual pursue where everything comes easy and our souls are unleashed permanently, beams of light shooting through our head. And he replied that spirituality must be like a rollercoaster, we have to experience the ups and downs, the connection and disconnection because that’s what spirituality is to us in physical form, we can’t expect to be pure spiritual energy all the time because we would loose the touch that makes up human. So, yea man, it’s good to know that we are all experiencing similar feeling on the path to purpose, because it means that we are engaged in growth and becoming more of what we are supposed to be. Thanks for commenting man and instilling further clarity in the internal concepts I’ve learned which are the same for all of us, let’s continue this over skype man, my username is brandon.james4.

      Peace brother,

      Brandon

  3. Hey Brandon! Good to hear from you bro! I’ll have to read this one through a few more times before I get it, or maybe I’m not in the place to understand.

    Having never experienced anything like this, I cannot draw a parallel in my mind, so the concepts are a little over my head, but nevertheless, a thrilling read, sheep dogs pursuing you in the dark.

    • Hey Lis,

      Good to hear from ya! You may not have experienced the exact nuance I was talking about, because I know, sometimes I can get a little vague with what I’m trying to say, I’m trying to relay exactly how I’ve been deconstructing my life, so it’s always relative to our own experience and perceptions. But what I’m trying to get at is that we are all creative beings and we are able to create many things in life, but often we create a world for ourselves based around superficiality and we end up feeling as though we’ve created nothing. For some, it may look like creating a life of more meaning, but for me it means creating from the soul and is the feeling of resonating with what we really are, not just the flesh and hair that we see, but deeper spiritual beings. For me, I find that it’s easy to check in with ourselves to determine if we are creating a world based on our lower self or our higher. Basically, anything that is generating feelings of anger, frustration, fear and insecurity means that we are making decisions in the moment and in our brain that are creating superficial, lower self energy. Meanwhile, if we are feeling free, elated, in love with everything around us, vibrant and carefree, we are putting our thought and energy into creating from our high self, and while we have the power to create from both selves, creating from a space of joy and beauty instead of fear and frustration is far more attractive to the human experience. So now we can learn to embrace those feelings of fear, because they show us where we aren’t inline with intending a life for our spirit and need to adjust our attitude, expectation and of course our inner feelings.

      Please get back at me if I just replied with an even harder to understand explanation of what I’m getting it, I really want to communicate what I’m feeling fully, but sometimes it’s really hard to put our own experience into words. Thanks for getting in touch.

      Much love Lis,

      Brandon

  4. I can see the two different you in the video. The one after switching downhill, even a bit upset, is more of the true and natural you. The dogs, the rain, and the motorists could all be the signs to guide you through the right way. You are totally right that we don’t need to prove anything to anybody and strive for that glory, as long as everything we do and every step we take conform to our peaceful mind and soul. That’s the REAL happiness even though sometimes it reflects as pain and misery.

    The other day I was with some friends and the topic hit biking, so I told them about your story and journey. Most were amazed positively but there were two negative voices. One said you are lucky to be able to enjoy a luxury (not necessarily financially) which is not available to most people in this world and you don’t know how to cherish and just want to be different. She even gave example of black Brooklyn kids who would die for education and job opportunities to change their destiny. The other agreed with what you are doing, but said unfortunately those who need your inspiration most would have the least chance to be influenced, cos they are out of your reach. I tried my best to defend, but I felt my arguments were not powerful and enlightening enough. Your pieces here are always so subtle while convincing. If you were there, how would you respond and make them understand you better? Do you think it’s a luxury?

    Really glad to see your updates. Hope to catch up soon man! BTW, love that last scene in the vid, beyond beautiful.

    Peace~

    • To me, I think its important to accept where we currently stand in life and leverage our situation to create the best next steps possible. I think the idea that due to other peoples situation being better or worst then ours that we should need to adjust our path in life has limited the worlds reality, because it creates the belief that in order to help others in need we need to give up the things we should be feeling grateful for and also that in order to reach the lifestyle of those more ‘fortunate’, we need to compete for the things we don’t have. The idea that giving up the path that I was granted due to the luxury of education, my social background and position in life has any effect on people who can’t afford such luxuries is a mentality that counteracts creativity and will keep the poor poor and the rich rich. Me leaving the job that was acquired through higher education doesn’t change the fact that poor, uneducated kids aren’t able to get such a job. Something I believe in greatly is that facing these limited mindsets of society, about what is expected, breaking our habit of walking on societal eggshells so to say, allows a person to start living how they really should and what happens when you live as you truly are, you start to feel the connect to the less fortunate as the souls that they are, you start to have real compassion for the poor of the world who have experienced a harsher reality, and have a much more enduring struggle than your own (not just the struggle to live, but the even greater struggle to change their reality.) And this is the point, I believe that every single human being on earth has the ability to change their reality regardless of the hand they were given, the critic may not agree with me and may find what I’m saying insensitive, attributing the fact that I’ve moved into a different reality due to the privilege and luxury that I’ve been given, not due to what I’ve been able to create, but I feel in my heart that this inner power we all possess can fix any situation. This mindset goes back to the same one that most people on earth believe, that the world is unfair and people are just given really shitty situations and have to deals with them, and others get the have the world for no reason. While my struggle doesn’t so much prove my theory, because even without the luxury of my laptop, fancy bike and funded bank account, there are people who bike around the world for next to nothing and there struggle is faaar off from a truly poor inner-city kid, but I do hope to prove that we have a lot more control over our reality than we give ourselves credit and until we start believing in that mindset, we will continue to believe that the world is a big mess of limited resources and unfair scenarios. The reason I believe this is because I also believe 100% with my heart that our minds control our reality, not just on a level of willful decision, but on a level of creation and that the cycles that we experience in the world, the unfair reality that society is convinced of, is due to peoples inability to break the convincing nature of their perception of the reality they are in, the reality society continues to perpetuate through fearful thought. There are countless stories of people who have fought their way out of poverty, cancer etc….and I really believe that these individuals are a glimpse at where we can be as a society.

      As for the other comment, it really resonated something inside me. It’s really true that the people that may find my story inspirational are likely to be the people who can relate to my background, people who, just like me, really aren’t in a life or death situation that would require true inspiration to change their circumstance. Odds are I’ve inspired people who are discontent with their job, unsure about which career to pick, feeling trapped by their social lives or body image, these are the issues that can be fixed with positive intention and an attitude that applies gratitude to life, and are currently the only actually issues that I’ve faced. But the people who are starving, without hope and facing a challenge that seems so incurable that gratitude isn‘t even a consideration, these are the people that actually need some kind of true inspiration. The interesting thing is, people like me, who have all their need met and have no speakable limit too creating the life they dream of, STILL find reasons to limit themselves, and create a unfair reality for themselves, so just because ones needs are met and they get to have luxuries` others done doesn‘t mean their life will be a easy stroll.

      A beautiful thing happened when I started going for the lifed I want, and started being very selfish, as in very interested in being ultimately happy and keeping my soul afloat in every situation. When I started focusing on feeling that powerful flow of universal love, my interests changed from obtaining things in my life, to wanting to help others who haven’t felt such beauty in their lives, or are so paralyzed from that beauty because their true basic needs haven’t even been met. This is the energy that taking this path has created and I hope to one day figure out how I can inspire people who are truly in need and help others to control their inner world and even help with their outer through giving up the luxuries I would feel I no longer need. So, while I may not have access to inspire people who are truly in need, I think by inspiring people who are similar to me, well off, open to anything they want to do in the world, inspiring these people to follow that path, the path of discovering their soul and the real meaning of life will create the same energy in them to help people who are so far gone from the idea of prosperity and happiness and create a more conscious middle class by helping them realize that their joy comes from their heart and not their luxuries. So to answer both of their thoughts about what I’m doing, I think that a fear of believing in a better reality for ourselves will eventually hold back the rest of society from doing the same.

      Really great comment Wei, got me thinking.

      Peace man,

      Brandon

  5. Hey Beej,

    I can’t tell you how happy I am that your “vision quest” of sorts seems to be unfolding exactly as I would think vision quests would. Thank you for reminding me of this concept – what is serving my ego and what is serving my higher self? I think even in normal American life it is relevant and essential. Even though it seems more difficult for people to stop and self-reflect on this in everyday life vs. facing an adventurous challenge, my goal is to always make sure to Stop, put things into perspective, and give life that greater depth.

    You are such an inspiration to me! I am so happy you’re letting your spirit soar and hope you never stop doing it! Although I did catch myself thinking while reading this.. Oh goodness, is he eating enough?? Haha! I love you dearly, and I’ll write a more eventful e-mail soon so we can catch up.

    Every Blessing possible,
    Tina

  6. Hola Brandon!!

    So.

    Tonight I was working at one of the two restaurants in the Glen when I had this party of 5 women sit in my section. Sometimes and very rarely, as a server, one meets the most incredible people, and over the course of a meal, this mad, karma driven connection forms. And let me just add, after the path my life has taken, I know without a doubt we meet people for a reason; like Rumi says “be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”. But how does this tie into you?

    One of the women in the party tonight was your mom– and what an incredible, loving, supportive woman!! It all started because we got to talking about how I speak Spanish, the year I spent in Spain, my plans to be a nomad for the next 5 years of my life around the country and world…and she mentions you. She tells me you’re traveling from Berlin to Beijing staying in hostels….so I mention you should check out Couchsurfing. What does she tell me right away?You’re a CSer!! She showed me pictures of you both in Turkey, told me stories…and gave me the address to your blog. I watched your most recent video, I’ve skimmed some of your writing, and I’ve looked at some pictures. I feel like you’re doing your part to join this one huge spirit of grace and realness that some folks are finally starting to crave and search for. I have a mentor who means the world to me and she’s been saying since day 1 “Perception drives reality”, you said something similar in one of your posts :0)

    Isn’t it interesting to see what the universe gives you once you put something out there? There are so many of us, especially people around our age (I’m 23) who are giving up this cookie-cut reality and trying to really get into touch with our intuition. I love this blog, I love what you’re doing, and I hope your life keeps filling up with light and wonder. I’ll be following along, and I’ve posted a link to your blog in the CS Chicago group :0)

    I hope your travels continue to be rewarding and safe!

    Btw, your mom mentioned to me that The Secret plays a huge role in your life. If you’re able to get a copy somewhere along the way, The Zahir is something I think would propel you even further into this whole journey. I could keep going but I’m gonna stop for now :0)

    Besitos, Abrazotes and love, love love from one vagabond to another!

  7. Hey, We talked for a bit in the Flying Time hostel in Sibiu, Romania. I finally checked out your website and am really impressed by your adventure. You’ve got some great photos posted.
    I wish you all the best for your future journies!

    Cheers!

  8. Long live our higher selves!

    Wonderfully written and truly from the heart, your post was very touching and inspiring. I am so glad you made the decision a year ago to leave what was causing your unhappiness and leaving you with an empty void — and I can’t wait for my “day” to come!

    Unhappiness, diseases of the body and mind, despair, and loneliness are not what our lives were intended for — we were born to be great, to be successful, to be happy, to experience joy, love, laughter. Until we choose to (because we do certainly do have a say in our own lives) serve our higher selves, our lower selves will always remain king. And that’s exactly where it wants to be. It’s an internal battle, a struggle we must face if we are to live an extraordinary life, one that is radically different from others, but most importantly, that which brings us lasting fulfillment in our short blink-of-an-eye life.

    Rock on, and continue your spiritual adventures in life as you travel around the world, Brandon! Totally supporting you and your efforts.

    All the very best, Nina

  9. Hey Brandon, love your blog and your tales of adventure! Like you, I’ve been on a journey of personal development while travelling the world, and one experience in particular really stood out for me – if you ever head to Cairo, you should definitely check it out. I took a course with a lady called Sarah Merron which really made me look at life differently. Here’s the link if you’re looking for your next travel fix! http://www.nlp.firedragoncoaching.com/destination-egypt.html

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