According to the short bio in the back of his best-selling "self-help" tome, The Four-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, Tim Ferriss "speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide, and has been a world-record holder in tango, a national champion in Chinese kickboxing, and an actor on a hit television series in Hong Kong." Dude is my age. Damn.
Fundamentally, Ferriss is all about "lifestyle design," which includes personal outsourcing, information management, and mini-retirements that maximize personal free time (to be filled with things you want to do, not have to do). On his blog this week, Ferriss interviews one of his own inspirations, Rolf Potts, writer and professional vagabond who just released his second book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There, "a philosophical book about seeing time as wealth and using travel to actualize that wealth." Now, many folks might not be all that into philosophy, but picking up and traveling, leaving our comfort zones, experiencing the unfamiliar all require a philosophic leap of faith that both Ferriss and Potts try to encourage through their books and websites.
Granted, looking at them - young, Abercrombie-esque, "affluent" white guys - a person of color with a possible interest in international travel might not exactly see themselves reflected in the life experiences of these guys. In fact, the dearth of recorded, comparable experiences by colored folks is the reason for this blog. But these two gentlemen have inspired me to take their advice, borrow some of their techniques, and use their knowledge and experience, plus the seemingly-inexhaustable positive energy reflected in their writing, in planning my life journey.
I've certainly encountered racism in my travels and would never assume that the same open arms extended to Nordic-looking Tim Ferriss by the TV producers in Hong Kong would be extended to Caribbean-looking me. But that doesn't mean I couldn't get on a show in Germany. It doesn't mean I couldn't write my own show and have it produced in Venezuela (or Hong Kong, for that matter). I also know that there are streets I can walk down in Latin America and not get a second look as an easy tourist target, while Tim Ferriss wouldn't last ten seconds without being swarmed by screaming multitudes hawking native trinkets, blood emeralds, overpriced designer knock-offs, or underaged girls. But it's not about comparing myself to these guys with an attitude of disdain or jealousy. On the contrary; right now, I'm trying to do what they're doing - traveling and writing professionally - and damn if I'm not going to learn a thing or two from these intrepid lads. As deceased black muti-billionaire Reginald Lewis once asked, "why should white guys have all the fun?"
There's plenty of fun to go around.
Two more short but excellent interviews with Rolf Potts about his new book and the art of long-term travel can be found on World Hum and Vagabondish.