“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve spent the last couple weeks cleaning up the blog, relaunching this weekly newsletter (more on that here if you missed it). Some running, some weights, and when I tweaked my foot last week, mending it back to health.
I’ve been reading and writing a bunch too, including dusting off old, unfinished posts, which I’m excited to share in the coming weeks.
But mostly it feels like I’m procrastinating on making a decision:
What project do I work on next?
When you’re a human in midst of reinventing yourself, no question produces angst like the cookie cutter: “So, what do you do?”
One day we’ll collectively design a better question. Until then, you and I will continue to fight the good fight, attempting to sum up our zig-zagged lives and convoluted careers in a breezy byline that both pleases and delights.
Or we’ll continue to introduce ourselves however we damn well please.
Either way, we can find solace in the fact that some of the most fascinating people alive today struggle with a punchy one-liner as well.
On his wildly popular podcast, Tim Ferriss asks many of his guests a version of: How do you currently answer the question, “what do you do?”
Here’s a baker’s dozen of my favorite answers.
We’re already one month into 2017, but in the spirit of finishing, I needed to get this post out.
If years had mythical personalities, 2016 would be the gorgon Medusa — a slithering, monstrous head of year that you never want to meet, and heaven forbid if you do, should never look directly in the stone cold eye.
We collectively beat up 2016 to a bloody pulp already — that poor, poor number — so that’s not my intent here. Personally speaking, 2016 wasn’t my finest hour either. I set myself big, bold goals…and then promptly accomplished hardly any of them. Heaven knows I also spend enough time beating myself for things not done, so that isn’t my intent here either.
Instead, I’ll try to harness my inner Perseus and approach 2016 like he did Medusa: with a sharp indifferent sword and a shiny reflective shield.
After all, 2016 was just a year and I’m just a human. Here’s how this human lived their life last year.
“I’m in my head a lot — and it kind of sucks. There are certain things I have to do to be out of my head and just to get to normal. I’m not talking about being really super effective. Just to get to normal…” –Rainn Wilson, actor
It’s been a wild few weeks, hasn’t it?
I deliberately keep this blog and my writing apolitical to focus the human and more-than-human side of stuff. And typically I’m an optimistic guy. But when I read about these 13 crises that humanity faces, many of which are influenced by the U.S. election results, I’m not feeling much like myself these days.
Coupled with my sister’s boyfriend getting into a cycling accident with severe head trauma and still unknown brain damage – I’ve experienced a complex mix of emotions, thoughts, and mental states that I can’t seem to articulate.
But I’ve since learned to describe it: grief.
On Friday I spoke at Creative Mornings London. Akin to my dream of giving a TEDx talk, I’ve long admired Creative Mornings and dreamt of speaking there too. A couple weeks ago Vicky asked – would I speak? OF COURSE. Then she mentioned the theme for the week : Magic.
Right, Magic. Vicky asked me to put together a little bio and a photo, and on the same document I jotted down ideas for my talk, mostly for myself, to help frame what I wanted to say. One of those bulleted ideas being “The Magic of Being Human.”
Two hours later there it was on the website, Facebook, Twitter and in thousands of people’s inboxes “Matt Trinetti and the Magic of Being Human.” Great. NO PRESSURE. Now I’m responsible for leading a room of 100+ Londoners on a journey to get to the bottom on what it means to be human…
Earlier this year I set a goal: reach out to 10 new heroes/mentors/big friends. My intention was to interview them, learn from them, but more importantly, begin to forge a real relationship with them. The first person that came to mind was British adventurer, author, and filmmaker Alastair Humphreys.
I’ve long admired Al. He’s a mainstay on the Escape speaker rotation, so I’ve met him several times. But I didn’t really know him. I reached out and fortunately he agreed to meet me near London’s Embankment.
Beyond a sea of suited city workers and through a Starbucks window, I spotted him. Which, to be honest, was about as unsettling as seeing a snow leopard trotting down main street or a black spider monkey lounging on your living room sofa. Humphreys is among a rare breed of professional Adventurer – someone who makes a living from adventuring.
I’ve been traveling around like a mad thing over the past 6 weeks and took some time off from work at Escape the City to do it.
It wasn’t so much the meandering, say-yes-to-your-adventure kind of travel, but more of the recovery kind. An attempt to make good on important stuff I’d been neglecting. Loved ones back at home. My parents. My brother and sister. My 92-year-old grandpa who was in the hospital (he’s out now). Hometown friends. And largely, myself.
I’m okay and everything is great — I just needed to heed my own advice: zoom out and check back in with my motivations for everything. It was the classic taking a step back from working in my life to work on it.
And 4+ more quotes to celebrate 4 years of GiveLiveExplore and attempting to live deliberately.
There’s a Henry David Thoreau quote that has narrated my journey since I began wandering – physically, professionally, philosophically – four years ago.
The quote helped inspire the tagline for this site: “Tales from a Deliberate Journeyer.” From Walden, it’s a sentiment that I believe sums up the motivation behind many women and men’s decision to heed their call to adventure. Mine included.
A couple months ago Thoreau’s words magically entered my periphery once again, but in an unlikely place: my daily commute in London. I didn’t notice them at first. Walked straight past. Alone in the subway hall, I back-peddled slowly, leaned my head to the side and breathed a curious “Huh.”
One of the eeriest parts of life is when things–situations, places, people, topics, ideas, opportunities–align before your eyes. For me, the alchemy seems strongest at the intersection of the books I read, the places I explore, the people I meet, and the conversations I have. In travel, all four have the chance to play.
My story, of course, is one of many coincidences. I’m convinced most are if we’re paying attention. My 2012 European wander (and subsequently the story of it in my TEDx talk) felt like an opus of spectacular coincidences and chance encounters, leading to one grand finale: I’d accidentally pass through Metz, France, the very place my love for travel was born, and the place where I’d pay proper homage to my friend whose death instigated the journey in the first place.
Three recent encounters made me ponder once again the mystery of coincidence.
Hey there! I'm Matt Trinetti.
GiveLiveExplore is a blog about being deliberate – in work, travel and life. I launched this site in 2012 to explore writing while physically wandering around Northern & Eastern Europe. Today it's the home for my writing, work, travels and projects.
Tales of Iceland is the true story of my trip to Iceland. Written by Stephen Markley, published by GiveLiveExplore.