Burning Man. I won't go into the details of that experience, mainly because a lot of those memories are rather blurry and not for sharing on public forums. But one thing that I will always remember from that trip was the advice that my friend Sarah shared with me. She had been to several Burns prior, not sure how many, but she was savy. And Burning Man wasn't her only festival experience. So, she decided to share some important information with me. She informed me of FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, and the potenial dangers of suffering from FOMO. See, at something like Burning Man, there are over 50,000 other people doing all kinds of things that you cannont ever imagine. Theme camps, music camps, thousands of art exibits, all scattered around the desert. In one week, you have the chance to see as much of that as possible, or you can never leave the block you pitched you tent on. Either way, you will have an incredible, life-altering, ground-shaking-to-the-very-core-of-your-essence time. But the thing to keep in mind, she wisely advised, was to not let the FOMO creep in.
You see, once you start fearing that you are missing out on something better, you have failed to live in the moment. I like to think of FOMO as the evil twin to Be Here Now, although BHN doesn't have quit the same ring to it. That notion, that someone, somewhere is having more fun, doing something more meaningful, getting more out of their experience than you, that will rot your soul. You will start to doubt the validity of what you have just been through. You will think that your life and time spent were not to the fullest, when in fact, you are always doing what you should be doing at that moment, if you weren't, well you would cease to be you, and cease to live the life you are living.
It seems recently, FOMO has been creeping out of the deserts of Black Rock City and into the lives of everyday urban dwellers. I've struggled with it this summer, while watching my friends jet-set around the globe. I was invited to join them all, but declined as I'm saving my money for my big move in December (more to come on that soon!). But 'tis not only I that has been suffering from FOMO of recent times.
One of my dear friends, who will be returning from recent travels, has been exhibiting symptoms of FOMO. After a long time aboard this friend is feeling eager to return home, but reluctant for not having seen everything while journeying. This is impossible, just all too common of a feeling. When you visit a part of the world, or go to see friends or family, you start to think about all the places you didn't make it to, or the events that will happen once you board that return flight home. The birthdays you will miss, the weekend brunches you won't attend, so many beautiful things and you cannot do or see them all. How obscene that this world is so beautiful, that we suffer, not from a lack of beauty but from a sense of overwhelming abundance that we will not be able to take it all in. In this life, we make choices and to some extent we have to live with those choices. Another friend was torn on whether to stay aboard and live in a far off place or return to familiarity. I think for those of us that travel, that thrive on seeing new, unknown, exotic things, we sometimes have contempt for the familiar. We see it as mundane, or too normal to stomach. But in my wise old age, I am learning that familiar is not boring or lowbrow, it is home, and there is nothing wrong with staying home.
So, as you embark on whatever journey today will bring, make sure you align yourself not with The Fear, but with The Presence of Now. So much easier said than done. But ease and reward do not always travel in tandem. Just realize, you are where you are because of choices you have made. They don't always offer instant gratification, but that's OK. Life doesn't need to immediately pay off. And if you are not happy with where you are, I mean not because of FOMO, but because you really should make a change, then do that. But when you feel that sense of jealousy and envy start to creep in, just push it aside, realize that what you are doing has just as much importance as what someone else is doing. And remember, stay hydrated, even though this isn't the desert, water always helps.