Many of us live as victims to life and circumstances. We choose to allow our jobs and other people to be responsible for our happiness and fulfillment. We wait and wait and wait for the next "phase" of our life to finally lead the happy life we always wanted. We use people, schooling, and events as mere stepping stones on the pathway to happiness in a never-ending dance of "practice" for the "real thing". A never-ending dance of waiting to be happy after we achieve x, y, and z...and then r, g, h and t....and then d, q, c and v and so on. You know exactly what I'm talking about! We worry so much about looking good for others who are so caught up in having the same exact worry for us. We attach meaning to childhood events that have held us back from the freedom of now as though they actually have to mean something when really nothing has to mean anything and the past doesn't even exist, except in our minds. Life is inherently meaningless until we give it meaning and no matter how much society tells us what things mean, the choice is ultimately ours. We are the creators of our own meaning and the meaning of things. Every moment we experience exists in an infinitely empty space of nothing with endless possibilities for the creation of anything. The best part is we are the creator of those possibilities! We settle for living an inherited life of inherited meanings when we can be living a created life of created meanings or simply no meanings. Understanding that the meanings we attach in life are only creations of a life that is inherently meaningless makes you unmessable with and that's powerful.
Everyone starts somewhere, right? Well, this is where I started creating the Everything Connects welcome video. Thanks @beingbobbykay for compiling these clips!
I eventually decided a voice over is the best way to go!
There is no distance on Earth that separates us from the benefits that rainforests provide. The Amazon rainforest is one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the world and greatest remaining natural resource on Earth. For years, I dreamed of traveling to the "Lungs Of Our World" and experiencing it's adventure, serenity, culture, and natural beauty. Well, I certainly got more than I bargained for! It all began two years ago when I started building Everything Connects and planned my second mission of planting 10,000 trees. I reached out to Project Amazonas and have been collaborating with this wonderful organization ever since to make this tree planting mission of mine a reality. My goal was to plant as many trees as possible and donate to and volunteer with the indigenous tribes, particularly the children, in the area. I traveled with my sister and met a group of awesome volunteers in Peru at the Project Amazonas Santa Cruz Forest Reserve. This trip was incredibly eye opening to the realities of jungle life. We first landed in Iquitos, which is a city built in the heart of the Amazon and is only accessible by plane or boat. We stayed there two nights to get settled in, become accustomed to the endless mosquito attacks, meet the other volunteers, and prepare for our excursion to the field station. Iquitos is the third world equivalent of New York, bustling with life all day and night. However, I found the city to be very polluted with garbage everywhere, dirty water, and horrible air quality. Not to mention the countless stray dogs that were all suffering from some type of horrible ailment. The locals were for the most part very kind, but being the "gringo" I was, which is an outsider or tourist, I always had to watch my pockets, especially in the busy marketplaces. I've always known about the challenges people in third world countries faced and lifestyles they led, but it's very different to learn about these issues online or in a book and to actually experience it first hand. I wanted to help every single child and stray dog in need while there! It drove me nuts not being able to. Anyway, our second morning there we finally left for the field station which was an adventure in and of itself. We began by taking a "Moto Kart", that my sister and I called "Go-Karts", ride to the dock, where we boarded on a small boat that took us down the Amazon River to the town of Mazan where we were welcomed by a swarm of locals trying to grab our bags to put into their Go-Karts and take us to another dock on the other side of Mazan. These locals meant no harm, but initially I was defensive trying to "protect" my belongings. I learned slowly the cultural differences and more times than not, the hard way. We finally decided which Go-Kart to jump in and made our way across the beautiful scenery of Mazan to the other dock where we settled into a small boat operated by Juan Pablo, who was working for Project Amazonas. We then made our way down the Mazan river and finally to our field station. Here are a few photos of our journey from Iquitos to the forest reserve:
Upon arrival at the field station, the volunteers, my sister, and I were welcomed with raw beauty and complete serenity. The noise of the city was non-existent, all we could hear was the beautiful chorus of endless Amazonian creatures. The field station itself was remarkably beautiful and spanned many acres. We had our own chef and a great mentor and guide Don Dean who is a board member of Project Amazonas and owner of the field reserve accompanying us. After settling in, Don gave us an introduction to the reserve and outlined our work schedules and what to expect during our stay. We learned that to get to bed every night, we would have to hike almost an hour through the jungle to sleep in another part of the reserve! This was exciting as most of the wildlife came out at night, but fairly dangerous as we were a good distance from civilization and surrounded by poisonous snakes and venomous spiders, however with good caution and common sense, we were all enjoying ourselves. With all the danger that surrounded us, it was a moth that got the best of me. On one of our night hikes, we saw a snake and so we all pointed our flashlights to it and I jumped into the light to snap a photo. Unfortunately, all the focused light attracted an immense amount of flying insects. One of those flying insects, a moth, happened to fly into my ear. As soon as it went up the ear canal, I panicked and stuck my finger in there to get it out, but instead I pushed it deeper in to the point that no one could even see it. I ended up spending two nights and three days with this moth in my ear until leaving to go to the hospital in Iquitos. Both those nights I spent hearing nothing but buzzing and wing flapping in my head. It was psychological warfare for me to stay calm, but I did a good job. Arriving at a hospital in Iquitos, even the doctors in the E.R. couldn't remove it, so I was sent to a specialist elsewhere in the city who needed to use a robotic camera to find it and then a special metal scooper to take it out. The moth was huge, but I was just glad it was taken out without further incidence. Here are a few photos of the reserve, our group, and some of the wildlife:
1) May never get to experience the amazing beauty of a coral reef or enjoy the incredible abundance of food, medicine, income, and protection they provide because by 2050, 70% of the world's coral reefs are expected to be destroyed, and all coral reefs could be gone by the end of the century. Disappearing Coral Reefs | Solutions
2) May never get to enjoy the seafood we enjoy today because already 90% of large predatory fish such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks are now gone, and by 2048, a study done by the Dalhousie University of Canada projects all the species that we fish today to be extinct. Overfishing | Solutions
3) May never get to explore the stunning diversity of life on Earth because scientists are warning that within a few decades, at least half of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct. According to the IPCC, direct climate change impacts alone will commit some 20-50% of species globally to extinction, possibly by 2100. Mass Extinction Crisis | Solutions
4) May be more vulnerable to diseases such as lyme disease, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, plague, and avian influenza, or bird flu, which is poised to become more difficult to control and more widespread due to rising temperatures. Global Warming | Solutions
5) May never get to thrive in a stable climate because the world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6°C (11.5°F) by the end of the century. Global Warming | Solutions
I'm short. I'm only 5'5". I blame my mother, but I still love her. Point is I've always felt small and not just in height, but as a human being among billions more. As one little person whose miniscule actions are seemingly meaningless and instantaneously ineffective. As just another fish in an endless ocean of people. I got tired of it. Tired of feeling incapable. Tired of holding back. Tired of being afraid. Life's too short for that nonsense and too precious a miracle to leave unexplored the incredible potential of the greatest natural resource on Earth: human willpower.
So, what is human willpower anyway? The dictionary definition calls it, "The strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes, or plans." I call it self-control. It is the foundation from which confidence builds, change happens, and willpower flourishes. It is the solution to most major problems, whether personal or social, largely stemming from a lack of self-control, whether it's compulsive spending, short-sightedness, procrastination, or chronic anxiety. It is our ability to grab hold of the present while better shaping the future. When I took control of those little voices in my head telling me I'm not good enough, I realized they were the only barrier between me and a world of endless opportunity. That I was my own worst enemy. I've never looked back since.
For some, embarking on a life-changing journey built on sheer determination and raw willpower usually begins with a dramatic or major event. For me, it was a simple question. A question so simple, it begs the question of why we question ourselves to begin with? I believe there isn't a single moment in our lives where we can pause and say, "I know all there is to know about myself, including my limits and capabilities," because you never know when you'll shatter your own expectations and where your willpower will take you.
George Tsiattalos is the creator and founder of Everything Connects.
The mission of Everything Connects is to inspire you, educate you, and empower you to make a difference in your life, for all life, and for the ecological foundations of life.