A deep way to learn about yourself

A photo-filled travel memoir about the OTHER
A deep way to learn about yourself
Beers in rural Serbia with the crew that picked me up hitchhiking.

look at that young punk

At 20 years old, I decided to learn everything I could about life... from other people.

What I didn't realize, however,
is that learning organically from interactions with others comes with a cost

that we can never foresee in advance.

At first I was just a traveler, trying to absorb wisdom.

As a young 20-something with nothing to lose, I couchsurfed with strangers all over Europe and Central America

and discovered that staying quiet when others talked meant they'd open up more.

It taught me that people trust those that will listen to them.

And then I chose to be the wild, nomadic writer.

Writing fantasy throughout Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia,

(and getting shit-hammered drunk along the way)

I captured people's real-life stories and turned them into character arcs.

When you tell people you're a writer of epic science fiction,

they seem to believe that you live with a longer time horizon.

But what they don't know is that it's all just a subconscious ploy

to harvest their stories

and give us writers an excuse to remain addicted to our own suffering

that we continue to hide from.

(For me, it was an excuse to keep drinking and emulate the Kerouac/Burroughs/Thompson lifestyle.)

But soon that life became saturated.

I was seeking something deeper, but didn't know what.

me seeking something deeper

The only remedy to l'ennui that I knew of was to drop everything and travel aimlessly.

So with a backpack and an accordion,
I hitchhiked from Paris to Sofia.

Along the way I learned to be OK with
• sleeping outdoors
• walking long distances
• being hungry

but most importantly,

I learned true surrender.

I had vague destinations in mind, friends to visit, but didn't know where I'd sleep most nights.

Didn't matter what I ate.

I had very little money.

I spent my abundant alone time reading.

I practiced yoga at truck stops.

I learned bits of foreign languages from truckers

and how to relate with people different than me
over the most basic of things.

And that's how I started learning about the real magic that life offers us
when we have no expectations.

the Rainbow Gathering spot

I ended up at the continental Rainbow Gathering

where thousands of people
live in the forest without money
share food
and simply live.

It was there that I was introduced to the spirit of community

(and the present moment, too)

These hippies taught me that satisfaction
is always right there

staring at me in the face.

As if a wall had been shattered,
(unbeknownst to me at the time)

I had found what I was looking for.

But I stuck out my thumb and kept onwards.

I felt like I could live this way forever.

Rainbow hitchhiking crew!

A beautiful woman in a BMW brought me from Budapest to Belgrade.

I had approached her vehicle at the gas station
and asked her if she was heading south.

She shrugged and told me to hop in.

On the drive, she told me about what it was like to live in Belgrade during the NATO bombings

when western Europe was scared of the economic power that Yugoslavia was developing.

"You don't know fear until there are planes dropping bombs on your home."

The attacks created an atmosphere of deep community for them
because each day, they didn't know if it would be their last.

It opened their hearts.

She dropped me off and I walked through the shelled-out buildings, which were still destroyed almost 20 years later.

I cried, because I couldn't even imagine living with such fear.

That day I experienced true gratitude for the first time.

I soon met another beautiful Serbian woman.

I felt my heart spark,
a connection I'd never known before
to happen so spontaneously.

We said our goodbyes too early
but it was OK

because that night I slept in a field
behind a rural fuel station

under the full moon
on a hill overlooking the city

overwhelmed with bliss.

Slept so deep I didn't know where I was in the morning.

Sticking out my thumb that day,
eating a Snickers bar for the first time since I was a kid,

I felt invigorated,
like love was real

and not just something I had to believe in to feel.

part of a mural I painted in Bulgaria

Once in Sofia,
I met two more beautiful women

and had coinciding relationships

with them both.

One would come pick me up from the other's office

and the other one would kiss me goodbye

"Enjoy your date!"

I hadn't yet developed the sexual confidence
to take things to the next level ;)

but more than once I asked myself

"What world am I living in?!"

One day I asked one of them,

"Are you sure this is OK with you?"

And she looked at me funny
like I'd asked the stupidest question in the world

"What do you mean? You are a free person."

These Bulgarian women were teaching me about
true unconditional love

no strings attached
just living in the present.

There was not even space to be jealous
which was all I'd ever known.

From there, life brought me around to San Francisco
(before it was shit)

and I found that I was wearing a new hat:

that of the mystic.

A bit more cultured,
a bit more wise
(but still an idiot).

I was suddenly curious about the more energetic parts of life.

Less Bukowski and more Terence McKenna these days,

I was swallowed up by the world of magic mushrooms

and for the first time
started to feel connected to the world around me.

The mushrooms also opened me up
to new realms of conversation
that had never existed for me before

and thus new opportunities within which I could learn from others.

I got deeper into yoga
and started recognizing the relationship

between reality
and my breath.

... but all of the sudden, I got derailed.

I didn't know boundaries yet

but I did know surrender to be a cure to most things;

so with different loved ones,

I partied hard stateside:
• my first Mardi Gras in New Orleans,
• SXSW in Austin
• March Madness in Vegas

after a long night in Vegas

I was back to my old ways
on what felt like a lower plane

with no one to learn from.

My loving mother helped me realize
I had to GTFO of there,

so I went to southern Mexico
to a holistic healing retreat place

where I volunteered to teach yoga
(and cook, mop the floors, etc).

There, I learned about tantra,
holotropic breathwork,

and the arts of pranic reality-bending.

I was around other mystics--
older, more experienced
with the subtle energies of life.

They taught me about chakras
about sexual energy

about learning to play with desire.

But my ego was still in control

(that's one thing a true teacher will never teach you:
we have to master that one on our own)

I hadn't figured it out yet

teaching yoga in southern Mexico

so I took what I'd been learning
and transformed it into



with the ladies.

Oh boy.

I left Mexico 6 months later
with a woman claiming she had my child in her belly

and not making me feel good about it, either.

It was classic manipulation
but I had no idea.

As I tried to work it out with her,
she eventually blocked me from all communication.

After an intense 2-month process inside myself

with daily breathwork
to clear this unfamiliar darkness from my being

and with the help of a 6-pack, a firepit,
and some down-to-earth friends from high school

(who had no idea about anything tantric, pranic, or weird)

I realized she'd been lying about the whole thing
to get me to stay there, with her.

It took me years to finally acknowledge the whole thing

and have the courage to be grateful
for her
and her pain

for teaching me the importance of boundaries

and the sacredness of the body's energies,

but I finally could
and I did.

I would continue to learn from others after this,
but this marked the milestone
where my journey started to transition outwards

because I finally realized the key to it all:

our relationships,
the people we let into our lives,
are the ultimate mirror.

Even if it's just a casual conversation:

when we choose to learn from our interactions,
we can truly achieve our own subjective enlightenment.

It's all just a question of how deep we're prepared to go.

And if we ignore it completely,
we continue to cycle on repeat.

If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.

People are fascinating
because you are fascinating.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your feedback.

This week I'm the guest on the Growing Up With Delia Burgess podcast, you can take a listen if you want to hear more about my life on the road from my own mouth.

Growing Up with Delia Burgess: Ep. 85 - Jordan Urbs: Mexican tantra, Nepali hashish & being possessed by a demon
Jordan lives in Hawaii with his wife and two children.⁠jordanurbs.com⁠"I used to say you could be "free" by ditching your 9-5 and surrendering to the life of a nomad. It really t…
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Jordan Urbs

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