Tag Archives: conversation with a stranger

An Unexpected Teacher

Common area at Zostel in Jaipur, India.
Common area at my hostel, Zostel Jaipur, in Jaipur, India.

In almost every story the protagonist meets a teacher, guide, or mentor that dispenses wisdom at a pivotal moment of the journey.  The teacher provides advice and points the character in the right direction.

There are a few people that I’ve met who could be qualified for the role of the teacher.

One in particular encounter sticks out. Probably because it was the least expected.

I was sitting in a hostel common area in Jaipur, India when I struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler. He was a middle-aged man who had just spent two weeks out in a remote village. He was sharing his experiences and explained he was able to maintain this lifestyle because he had a remote job. My response was “I wish I could do that”. He just paused, gave me a strange look with a half-crooked smile and said, “everyone says that to me like it isn’t possible, but you really can do it. It isn’t that hard.” It caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting someone to call me out on my unspoken excuses.

It was a wake-up call. A slap in the face really. I’d been telling myself remote work wasn’t possible because I was in a non-tech line of work and fearful that there wasn’t reliable work out there. I thought I would be chained to a single location for the rest of my life without the freedom travel whenever I wanted.

That was 7 months ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that conversation. The fateful words of my fellow traveler have propelled me forward. They were the kick-start I needed to overcome an unspoken (and unreasonable) barrier.

So to my unexpected teacher… wherever you are… thanks for the introspective push in the right direction.