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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Der Untergang (The Downfall)

I recently watched a German movie called Der Untergang (or The Downfall) about the last ten days of Hitler's life. This was a really good movie that explored Hitler's personality and his effects on World War Two. Hitler really was a great orator and speaker but he was a terrible,horrible human being. For as long as I can remember I have been horrified and fascinated with how one man could captivate an entire country into slaughtering over six millions Jews and countless other ethnic groups simply because they were “different” and not part of the “master race”. Hitler motivated thousands of seemingly normal people to do unspeakable things that you and I would never do. Why is this?

How did normal men and woman go from living normal lives into contributing to the killing and torture of millions of people? If it could happen to them, could it happen to us? I like to think that I could never ever be influenced by anyone to do horrible things to other people simply because they are different. What made Hitler and the German people so different? I think it was just a “perfect storm” of circumstances that allowed Hitler to take power and influence an entire country so completely. It was no one thing. It was Hitler's speaking skills, his grip over the economy and politics, his power in the military,his ability to create a power structure that allowed powerful people to do horrible things and last but certainly not least, apathy from the German people. I am by no means saying that every German was a bad person or is a bad person. In fact to the contrary one of my best friends is German and I really enjoyed my travels to Germany and would love to return. The German people as a whole certainly don't deny their history and Nazism is illegal in Germany now. But, during the Second World War the German people were so captivated by Hitler that many of them did horrible things. Maybe they thought “It isn't really my problem” or “it doesn't directly affect me” or “someone else will take care of it” or simply “I don't care” Whatever the reason, the affects of Hitler and World War Two caused the death of over fifty million people globally and involved almost every major country in the world. This coming just 20-ish years after World War One.

I can relate to apathy in my own life. I can use my blog as an example. I know that I do have a fairly large readership base but relative few people actually comment on my blogs. Why is this? Do people not care? Do they have no time? Do my blogs bore people? Does it take too much effort to comment?Lack of motivation? I think it is a combination of all these things. I am by no means angry or sad about this. I am guilty of this myself. We have become a society of people who do not take action for anything unless we are extremely motivated to do so. Not commenting on my blog will not cause the death of millions of people but in a small way I think it does parallel the actions of World War Two.

Hitler was a very disturbed horrible man who deserves one of the worst places in Hell for what he did but what we need to remember is that we cannot forget the lessons we (globally) as a human race have learned from that terrible period in history. My grandfather was a soldier in World War Two and when he was alive I always wanted to hear stories about the war. As I grew older I stopped wanting to hear stories simply for the sake of hearing a story. My respect for him as a person and his service really grew and I actually LISTENED to what he had to say when I was older. As a kid I just wanted to hear battle stories. I will be forever grateful for his actions and those that he served with they helped preserve my freedom. War is horrible in any form but back then the German soldiers fought for their cause and the Allies for their cause with a purpose. Now war has changed. There are no more battle fields and uniforms and causes. It is now all blended together without a specific cause. I truly hope that this world never has to go through another World War. If you haven't seen Der Untergang (Downfall) I highly suggest it. It is in German with English subtitles. Very powerful performances in that movie.

P.S. Not to make light of World War Two at all, but, there is quite funny “Downfall” parodies on Youtube.
That's all I have for you today,Tyler

Connecting the dots

I think I may have wrote about this before but I wanted to touch on this subject again since a lot has happened in the past few months. I really do believe life is about connecting the dots. You may not be able to see it in the moment but when you can look back on things and see clearly how one thing leads to another. Every experience is in some way related to another experience. Usually though, you can't see how it is all connected until you have some time,age,experience and perspective.

For example, I took my first trip out of America when I was 15 years old (with my church) it was on that trip that I started to get bit by the travel bug. Five years after that, I joined an international travel group I had some great trips to Fiji,Germany,England,Ireland and Chicago. I made some life long friends within that group, some of whom I still keep in touch with even now. If it weren't for my trip to Panama I never would have had the guts to join Tribewanted and start traveling.

Once I started traveling with all my friends from that group I really got the full on travel bug. From the age of about 18 to 24 I would travel somewhere outside of America at least once a year for at least a month. I saw many great countries that way both solo and in groups. Obviously though, I had a life back in America. I was working (not at a great job but it paid the bills) I had my family and friends back in Texas. Fast forward to 2009. I was working for a company that was sub contracted to Home Depot. Once the economy started to tank our company went belly up and my whole division was laid off.

Once I lost my job there for a bit I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no job,no college degree and no passion in life other than traveling. I was 24 years old and lost in life. I was directionless and floating in the sea of life without a life jacket. Luckily though one day I decided to Google “Jobs overseas” the first result that came up was a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. I had visited Australia in 2008 for about three weeks and really enjoyed it. This was different though. It meant moving to Australia for one year and working there without any friends or family. It was a scary prospect for a 24 year old. I thought about it for a few days and then took the leap of faith. I decided to do it!

Thank God I did because it changed my whole life! The first month was scary and I was lonely. I had no friends, no family and I knew basically no one. To top it all off I had no job. I was really homesick and came close to just quitting and going back home. I decided to tough it out and stay though. It was the second best decision I have ever made. I had met a girl on the plane ride from Sydney to LA (she was my seat mate) and Sandradee got me started. She let stay in her house until I got my feet under me. I found a job and started making friends. Without the initial support of Sandradee I don't know what I would have done!

After about two months I was really starting to enjoy myself. I had a good job,I made some friends and I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. I was no longer so home sick and life was good. It was about then that I met one of my now best friends. Ben (from Germany) we met on the city bus. He had just arrived and was looking at a map and looking lost. I decided to help him out and from that moment on we were fast friends. We ended up traveling together for well over one year! If I would have left Australia I never would have met him or any other of my great friends that I still have in Australia.

So where does that leave me? Well I ended up staying a whole year in Australia living and working there and having a great time traveling and meeting many great people all over Australia, all the while seeing amazing things. After my year there I wasn't ready to come home because I was having too much fun! So Ben and I decided to move to New Zealand together. New Zealand was close and offered a working visa program. So off we went. In New Zealand I had a great year of traveling and working there as well. I worked construction,on the railroad and on a concert tour. I had many jobs in many different things. I had so many new work experiences that have helped me in my life. Not only that but I met two of my now best friends Nadia and Deborah from England. I was very active in Couch Surfing and met so many great people and had so many great experiences that I couldn't even begin to list them all. Did you know that I even got a trombone solo for my birthday. My friend Maya was kind even to play happy birthday for me on her trombone. I won't ever forget that! If I had never decided to go to Australia I never would have decided to go to New Zealand. Another dot connected.

In between my year in Australia and my year in New Zealand I took some time off to travel South East Asia with my friend Kevin. One day we were in Australia and he asked me if I wanted to go to Thailand. I had never really thought about it and I knew nothing about Asia but I was happy to go somewhere new so I said yes! On the plane ride over, Kevin and I met my now good friend Tony. The three of us decided to travel together and we ended up meeting my now good friends Scott and Ashleigh. We had our wolf pack complete. We had so many great memories together that I will never forget. Without saying yes to Kevin's suggestion to go to Thailand none of that would have happened for me. Another dot connected.

Fast forward to my second year away from Texas, my year in New Zealand was ending. Ben and I had quite a lot of money from our jobs and nowhere to spend it so we decided to travel South America. We started in Chile then Bolivia,Peru,Argentina and then Ben went to Brazil and I went to Colombia. We had a great time in South America even though at the time my Spanish was terrible and so was his! I have so many good memories of the time we had. Well after that both Ben and I had been away from home for two years! (My family did come see me in New Zealand) but both of us were broke and it was time to go back to our respective countries after 18 months and change of being away.

I came back home to Texas and really tried hard to live a “normal” life. I tried to get a job and do the things that most people do but I just couldn't do it. I was unhappy with my life. I didn't enjoy the routine and I loved the traveling lifestyle so much more. So I decided I would get certified to teach English overseas and go do it! I got my TEFL degree and decided to go back to Thailand and teach there because I really enjoyed that country. Another dot connected. I arrived with no job and nowhere to live but I still had a few friends from my travels there. I ended up meeting an Aussie named Maurice and he was (and is) a great guy. He convinced me to leave Bangkok (the capitol city) and go with him to a very small town called Bangsaphan. I had never even heard of this place but I went with him anyway. I ended up getting a job there and living on a beautiful beach with a great Thai lady named Noong. She was really good at taking care of me and she was a great cook. I will always fondly remember my time living in that beautiful beach house with her and random guests who would come in and out. I taught Thai children and at first it was so difficult because I had zero training. It was really sink or swim. I made it though! I had a great time there and finished out my whole contract.

Fast forward a little more to my teaching contract ending in Thailand. As much as I really enjoyed Thailand I felt that I wanted to learn a language that I could actually use. I was still in contract with my now boss, Andy. He was in Colombia and I met him my first time in Colombia. He had told me if I ever wanted a job back in Colombia there would be one for me. So I decided to take him up on his offer and move back to Colombia to learn Spanish. Another dot connected. After a short stay at home in Texas I moved to Bogota this April. He made good on his word right away and gave me a job and he also arranged a place for me to stay. So I had no major worries. I still had friends here from last time so life was good here. At first my Spanish was terrible and I was so frustrated at not being able to communicate the way I wanted. But, I kept learning more and more. I met my now good friend Sergio and he introduced me to a girl who I started to date right away. We dated for about a month but it didn't end up working out. Obviously after my break up I was depressed about it. I ended up meeting a Canadian who is driving truck from Canada to the bottom of South America! Mark is a great guy and we have had some great times. He convinced me to try this online dating website here in Colombia. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing and didn't really want to do it but I decided to pay for one month and give it a try. The first girl I met off the dating site was Viviana. Right away I saw how beautiful she was and she was super nice. There was a problem though. She didn't speak any English! At the time my Spanish was terrible! She was also a single mother. So I thought at first our relationship would be impossible. I couldn't see a way that it could work. But, we really liked each other so we kept seeing each other. Slowly but surely my Spanish got better and I met her son and found out that he is a really nice kid and I really liked him. So everything that I thought would be a problem wasn't!

Fast forward to now. Viviana and I are very much in love. I enjoy my job here and I have a good life and soon Viviana and I will be married! I will be a step father and I am very excited. Thanks to Mark for convincing me to get on that dating website. Another dot connected. I found my love here in Colombia and a good life and it never would have happened had I not traveled to Colombia in the first place and then decided to come back. You never know how your life is going to work out. You never know what dots will be connected. Live your life as if everything will be connected. I have been so lucky in my life to see and do so many amazing things. I have been to over 15+ countries all before the age of 30! I am so blessed to have a very supportive family and friends. I really couldn't ask for much more. Soon I will have a beautiful wife and step son and in-laws. You never know how your life is going to work out. My life has taken so many exciting twist and turns,ups and downs since I left America in 2009 and now almost four years later I am excited to see what dots will connect in the future.

Yall take care,Tyler

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Movember is over!

Well today ends Movember (officially) but you can donate all year long! I want to thank all of my friends and family who donated to this worthy cause. I raised a grand total of 220 dollars! I really appreciate everyone and even if you didn't donate I do hope that in my little way I helped raise awareness for men's health issues. Thanks again and my face caterpillar will see you next year!-Tyler