Of moderation and penetration – finding happiness through limitation

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Legend says that once Alexander the Great conquered the mighty Persian Empire and dethroned “the King of kings” he wept dearly, for in his mind there were no more worlds left to conquer. It had been his life’s sole purpose to defeat his enemies and one day there were none. Eventually this led him to ever more insane undertakings and his own loyal men rebelled against him. It wasn’t defeat which led him to ruin, but victory itself.

I believe there is an Alexander in all of us, for we all crave in conquering the unconquerable be it love, fame, riches or life itself, but I don’t think we actually understand what that entails. Our very physiology doesn’t help us either, as from an evolutionary perspective, we never quite evolved to live in a world of plenty. In essence we were given unquenchable thirsts for certain stimuli because our biological systems knew they had to assign a high importance to them given their relative scarcity, with the caveat being that we were never meant to succeed at satisfying them.

Hence we enjoy sugar to the point of becoming diabetic, hence we enjoy rest and relaxation to the point of lethargy and decline, hence we enjoy sex to the detriment of other aspects in our lives and so on and so on. These were not vices we were ever meant to fully satiate.

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The Comfort Trap

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Well, it’s been almost half a year since I last updated this collection of my writings, last we spoke I’d recently thought I was getting drugged and robbed in the desert, and I had made a fool out of myself on that last leg of climbing a mountain. But overall, I lived in terror, trying but failing miserably from escaping my destiny of having to go back to Mexico.

Fortunately for me though, one of the several hundred job applications I’d sent out in the last few months actually bore fruit and I got an online interview. Unfortunately for me though, at the time I was in one of the hippiest hostels I’d ever been at, where it wasn’t uncommon to see the guests making opium tea and smoking pot whilst sometimes screaming about their drug use to anyone in earshot.

Needless to say, this wasn’t the ideal place to have an interview at; but I managed to find a corner of a room where I more or less pretended everything was in order, and it all went according to plan.

Fast forward a couple months, where I had to go back to Mexico for the UK visa and I’m finally back in London working as a financial journalist. It took over a year of struggling, applying to dozens of jobs per day (with the final tally being upwards of 800!) but it worked out, despite having essentially given up at one point. To say I’m ecstatic does not begin to cover it, not only did I beat the odds but managed to come out on top as well.

There was certainly a sizeable portion of luck involved but this would’ve been close to impossible without putting considerable amount of effort on my end as well. I guess this the key to life: to take enough punches and keep fighting until you get a lucky break.

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People you meet on the Road VI: Disappointment, Charlie Chaplin and Yogurt

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Whosoever said that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover was a hypocritical son of a bitch. Humans are programmed to desire, rarely to appreciate. We may not like this side of ourselves, but pretending to be immune to it altogether is silly. In all likelihood these pretensions to the moral high ground may even lessen your enjoyment of things, as you force yourself to do things you don’t particularly enjoy just to prove a point. Truth be told, the performance of an experience is almost as important as the content thereof.

To easily illustrate what I mean, I shall say that I recently had a wonderful meal at a Moroccan restaurant. Yet not content with this, I decided to top it all off with a dessert. Last time that I’d been there someone had talked me into trying the yogurt, and I must say that it was a delicious experience.

This time around though they lived up to the Moroccan lifestyle far too much, as empires rose and fell faster than the time it took for me to get my dessert. Eventually I decided that my sweet tooth wasn’t worth the wait; hence I stood up and went to the cashier to pay, rather than wait a second more. On the way there, you had to pass through the kitchen and I saw one of the cooks spooning out a yogurt from a shop container into a bowl.

When my waiter saw me attempting to leave he tried to get me to stay, and I did, but by then the spell was broken. I saw the farce for what it was, far from the homemade traditional yogurt I thought it was, it was simply a store bought one in a fancy presentation and with nuts and berries to further disguise it. This realization should not have altered my enjoyment of the final product in any shape or form. I had, after all, been more than satisfied with ordering it on other days. Yet it suddenly didn’t taste as well as it once did, because it left behind the bitter taste of lies.

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People you meet on the Road V: The Pelican King

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Over the winter of 2015, after having spent a wonderful and eventful Summer in Turkey, I decided to return to a small town called “Fethiye” for Christmas Holidays. I had little else to do, and I’d been hired by a friend to edit a book of his. The small port town was thus the perfect getaway now that the prices had fallen and the tourists had left for warmer places.

Truth be told, most of the articles I published in 2016 came from this month of work. The sudden and noticeable drop in activity and frequency of published articles midyear happened once I ran out of them, and actually had to get my ass into gear. Although I quite enjoy the art and craft of writing, I often just as much enjoy pretending I’m going to write and watching Youtube videos instead.

Be that as it may, I have very fond memories of this month as a quasi-hermit and author. Despite the terrible weather, the fabulous scenery was still there, and there wasn’t a foreigner in sight. Hence the few remaining shops, restaurants and hostels open were extremely generous to any lost soul that happened to end up over there. Among them there was a cafe by the boardwalk called “Pelikan Cafe,” and contrary to expectations, its name delivered!

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In Defence of Pickup Artists

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Ever since the publication of “The Game” by Niall Strauss in 2005, the term “pickup” has become a dirty word. I don’t blame society for associating the term with a skeevy underbelly of humanity. What else were they supposed to make of the weirdos who purposefully dressed in silly clothing and went out trying to fuck anything with a hole between their legs by saying mean things to them?

This crass imagery has persisted for the last decade, and it’s unlikely to leave us any time soon. But, if for nothing more than wanting to play devil’s advocate and for the benefit of my limited audience, I’d like to come to the pickup community’s defence. I, among possibly millions of others, was also introduced to the idea of being able to approach women anywhere because of that book.

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A Tale of Two Moroccos – or the night I was afraid of getting roofied in the desert

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For the last few weeks, as an attempt to distract myself from the impending Sword of Damocles that was the high likelihood of having to go back to Mexico, I’ve been travelling in Morocco. I flew into Marrakesh, and I must say that I initially had a very bad impression of Moroccans as a whole. I almost got scammed multiple times on my first day, and you get hassled in this city like nowhere I’ve seen in my life. Everyone here has a story of someone annoying them on the streets, or being massively overcharged; some stories even include the threat of violence and thuggery and I’ve even heard of someone getting spat on by a stranger.

After experiencing this sort of doings I was ready to write an article on the subject. About how in some places you’re little more than a walking dollar sign, instead of a human being. But then I ventured out of Marrakesh and I saw the true generous potential of the Moroccan people. By way of example, whilst travelling with my two friends which I’ve mentioned earlier, we asked a man for directions to a hotel or something of the sort to stay the night, as it was getting late.

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Meditations on Toubkal Mountain, the highest point in North Africa

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Much remains the same when you grow up, many of the childlike dreams, hopes and aspirations still hold true. Perhaps we may coat them with a veneer of respectability or adulthood, but at their core, they still remain much the same. The main thing that changes though is how we seek to satisfy those drives.

Had you talked to my thirteen year old self and told him that one day, a decade later, I would decide to climb during the winter the highest mountain of North Africa on a whim, I would’ve likely called you mad. I still remember when, on a nature walk that we did on a school trip, my teacher essentially had to push my back then morbidly obese self the whole way. As otherwise, I would’ve never managed to do so.

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