As many of you know – I got a scholarship to attend the International Association for Conflict Management’s yearly conference, being held this year in South Africa. What many of you probably don’t know is that, I’ve decided that this chance, an unexpected but potentially amazing one, will be the first chance that I test out a new philosophy of life.

Instead of planning my future, instead of organizing everything too much, let life lead.

One of the things I’ve always tried to do is focus on the things that I can control, and to not worry about the things beyond my control. What many of you interpret as a zen-like calmness is really me trying to put this idea into practice. In our world, there are really only so much that is really directly accountable to our actions – but it is these things that are most important. How you treat family, loved ones, and those around is the highest, most paramount, but even small things, such as how you spend your time, what you consume, are part of this.

In the past, I used to treasure the planning before traveling. Researching the place, where to go, and imagining, before going to sleep every night, the amazing adventures that I’d have. It was this battle, against these expectations along with the expectations of otheris, that form the core theme of my soon-to-be-finished first book about my trip around the world. They diminished the actual traveling, as did the beliefs of others back home that such a trip had to be “amazing” despite the subjectivity of travel.

Now, I was to embrace that subjectivity. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to plan – but now, I choose history books over travelogues and travel guides. It means that I want to let those I meet – a tiny segment of the great populations of any country – and focus on my experiences with those people. Because that is something that I can control. The rest, I will leave to the mysteries of the natural world order, and do my best to learn and observe as a sentient human being.

So where will I go after South Africa? How can I answer that question when I haven’t even been to South Africa yet? My journey there will determine my destination. That, I feel, is how it should always be.

The only difference – I’m finally free of fear to allow myself to follow this path. That is where I’ve grown.

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