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Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

Ask anyone if they look more favorably upon someone who just finished reading Becoming by Michelle Obama or another who just binged two seasons of Big Mouth on Netflix, and most people would choose the former. The reason, however, is based upon a false reality concerning the perceived value of the two activities.

Those who more often spend their free time watching television are lazy and their minds are turning to mush; those who choose to read are intellectuals interested in understanding the world to make it a better place. At least, these are the generic stereotypes we have.

The reality, however, is that both mediums have the ability to open up a new world of discovery and learning to the audience. They’re each capable of expanding imaginations, fostering creativity, teaching empathy, developing language skills, improving memory, or simply providing entertainment and a brief escape from the stress of everyday life. But these attributes, even in their varying degrees of effectiveness, do not give an advantage to one over the other. …


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Bradley Cooper in “Limitless.” Credit John Baer/Relativity Media

If a tennis player’s coach simply advised playing tennis every day, watching professional matches every night, making sure volleys shots are accurate, and getting good sleep they would be fired. But, do a quick search online for “how to be a better writer” and you’ll receive the same banal advice: write every day, read every day, be concise, develop a routine, exercise and sleep, etc.

Terrible.

Why? Because a keen observer will quickly realize this guidance is comically generic enough that one could repurpose it to write any “How to Be a Better [fill in the blank]” article. …


A month into my walk on the Camino Frances, in a small mountain town in the northwest of Spain, I stepped into my third hostel bar of the day searching for my daily fix of coffee and a napoliatana de chocolate. Finding myself in conversation with the proprietor of the establishment, Carlos*, I soon realized he was a fellow Texan born in Dallas, raised in Houston, and educated in Austin.

It was immediately and readily apparent, in this bar teeming with more patronage than his waitstaff of two could manage, that Carlos liked to talk. Rather than steam milk for coffees, plate pintxos, or even take payments from customers, Carlos went through half motions executing these tasks instead preferring friendly chit chat with anyone making eye contact. …


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Jared Leto, one of the more genuine celebrities I crossed paths with

A lifetime ago, in 2005, before camera phones could take pictures with a resolution high enough to distinguish an eye from a pimple, I wielded a large digital camera and had my run of Vegas as a nightclub photographer. Waltzing past long lines of vacationers, escorted by familiar bouncers through unhinged velvet ropes, and given unrestricted access to the most exclusive areas of casino nightlife, I was encouraged to photograph everyone in sight. Before TheFacebook, Youtube, and Instagram made internet presence democratic and commonplace, egos were easily fed with a single image posted in any obscure corner of the internet.

Because of this, access to the rich and famous was relatively easy. Most people wanted the publicity and internet backlash for polarizing behavior wasn’t ruining careers quite yet. The potential upside was overwhelming, downside almost nonexistent. So when I stumbled across a guy with his two companions in a VIP booth at Body English in the Hard Rock Cafe Casino, they happily agreed to pose for a picture, gave me a friendly nod, and I moved on. …


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I would’ve taken the licorice root out of my mouth had I known I was posting this anywhere

After six weeks of continuous walking, having started in France and ended on the northwest coast of Spain, I found myself on a bus to Portugal seated next to an Austrian woman whose first words to me were,

“I’m so sad to be leaving.”

She hadn’t even made eye contact with me at the time, instead having only gazed longingly out the window, not at anything in particular since our view had been restricted to a concrete wall, but rather at the memories in her own head, born of her own adventure.

She, too, had marched across the country and for the next hour we exchanged stories about our respective experiences. …


The author being towed behind a sailboat in turquoise, Bahamas water
The author being towed behind a sailboat in turquoise, Bahamas water
Towed behind a sailboat in the Bahamas

Not one self-development article browsing session goes by that I’m not hit with a plea to stop taking pictures and to live in the moment. Anyone feeling the urge to espouse this particular advice in the future should take a picture of this article for later reference.

Two and half years ago, having the opportunity to pursue a drastically different lifestyle than any I had known, I sold everything except a few duffle bags of clothes, bid farewell to life on land, and moved onto a sailboat. …

About

Corey Stewart

Formerly a corporate trainer; currently 2+ years into traveling. Formerly informed I have the raw talent of a good writer; currently testing that hypothesis.

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