Author’s note: I’ve really gotten behind in posting so some of these are from last month…
After an intense first couple of months in the year, including saying goodbye to my beloved grandfather and resulting grief- fueled chasing the night, it was hard to leave San Francisco, laden with such overwhelming fomo. I was spinning at such an intense velocity that I was afraid if I stopped, I would spiral into the erratic near-falls of a top coming out of orbit. It took a few days to detach from the craziness of SF, a city that vibrates with equal parts hustle and FOMO, and there was no other choice but to be engulfed by the healing Fu River and its majestic glacial valleys. I opened my computer twice to capture my sentiments in the moment and those excerpts are below…
Tues. 2/27, Day 3 of Trip 1
I can barely write this post as I sit looking at the gorgeous Futaleufu River from my luxury tentalow…my fingers are raw and blistered from three days of rafting, hard shell kayaking, and duckie-ing it through rapids. My left pinkie finger is especially raw, making typing “a’s” a little taxing, but I’ve gotten quite akin to embracing physical challenges. It’s so nice to get out of my head and off screens (except for right now).
It’s been only five days since I landed in Puerto Montt, Chile after almost 24 hours of traveling. I had anxiously worried about my forced digital detox and used my glorious 3G internet up to the last minute like a true junkie. I had also been suffering from an intense case of FOMO as my social life had ramped up in the last couple months, after moving to SF in the last week and developing an intense new friendship.
SF has an indescribable vibrancy that seems to hum at the amplitude of FOMO hertz, to which I tend to be incredibly vulnerable. I constantly fight the feeling of not doing enough crazy, hyper-stimulating activities, while most of my friends marvel at the craziness of my life. This is perhaps the Super Bowl of my struggles that I have fought since I was a kid…finding satisfaction while addicted to novelty (something new and unique), comparison (being/having more/better than others), and maximization (optimizing time, energy, and resources to have the best possible outcome; or else, intense disappointment). This is the Sisyphean challenge in all addictions…how can you ever satisfy your fix? If you could, it wouldn’t be an addiction…
So, with a dull dread, I headed into the no-reception eden of the Futaleufu Valley, hoping my FOMO would be reasonable and somewhat stoked to confront one of my biggest demons. It’s like the come-up of psychedelics…both hoping and dreading that it’s kicking in…
In addition to worrying about not spending time on a nascent but intense and vulnerable friendship, I was also missing a Burning Man call. In recent weeks as my social calendar filled up, so did my FOMO. On Sunday evenings, I start to get anxious about stacking the following weekend full of fun adventures even though I always seem to have a great time (and in fact, it’s typically better if it’s not fully planned out since there aren’t lofty expectations and room for improv. I’m painfully aware that I have been trying to control future happiness, which is an exhausting, counter-productive futility. Yikes.)
The FOMO so far has been manageable for a few reasons:
- The Fu River is fucking amazing for rafting and the whole experience at Bio Bio Expeditions is so effortlessly perfect: the raft guides are super fun and competent
- The food is delicious and diverse (a different country theme every night), and every long South American afternoon is spent in the hot tub at the sunset open bar. The staff is ridiculously good looking and fit (there is something for everyone, even for those who are into everyone). It’s like camping in nature but way more comfortable with running hot water, great meals, and wake-up calls every morning with our favorite hot beverage, if not before then by the roosters and sheep next door…!
- I am incredibly grateful for getting to enjoy all the activities for free in exchange for teaching yoga, which is something I love to do and would do for free. I met Jenner in my coaching course last June, and he connected me with Lorenzo, the owner, who I met up with at the last burn. When I arrived at camp, I found out that the previous yoga teacher actually could stay, so I didn’t even need to teach yoga. I was a little bummed at first but also grateful for getting to enjoy as a client and do nothing… Then through life circumstances, I got to teach my first class today, which was awesome! And it couldn’t be in a prettier locale!
- I am constantly forest / river bathing in some of the most pristine nature. In my last session with Damian, my hippie therapist from Mexico, we stared at a couple high-res photos of calming scenes like embers in a fire and a lone lighthouse on a cliff. In the easiest guided meditation, Damian told me to just let thoughts come up and then let the photos cleanse my thoughts. Nature works exactly like that except that it’s super high-res!
I’m grateful for this opportunity to face my FOMO and insecurities. Damian pointed out that it’s great to try to design my life consciously but until I integrate the areas of struggle, my unconscious will constantly try to sabotage me. I’m not sure I agree with that but I do know that I’ve struggled with FOMO and friendship insecurities for years…since for maybe as long as I can remember.
For example, I’m nervous introducing mutual friends, because I’m afraid they’ll become better friends with each other and I’ll get left behind. I know this is silly because:
- I’ve been the beneficiary of being introduced to mutual friends and am so grateful for that happening in my life
- There is no scarcity in strong relationships. I have loads of solid, deep, intimate friendships that don’t preclude or impact each other, so if my friends have relationships with each other, it doesn’t reduce my friendship with each of them individually
- Who’s to say they will actually become better friends?
- There are actually benefits for more friends getting along with each other; we can do more group activities, and I actually really love groups / communities that I belong to. What it comes down to is valuing myself enough to know that I’m an amazing person and if people have a different connection with each other, that’s okay too
- If my friendships do diminish, I can have faith that my life was full and rich before I made those friends, and will continue to be full and rich, so I can focus on not attaching to any one outcome or person
- The discomfort and struggle itself can only come from awareness, which is already the first and a very difficult part of the battle.
I believe life is happening for me, not to me and that we are all connected in some way. So, if the universe wanted me to confront this issue now by coinciding my travel with my new friend’s, then this is a gift from the universe for me to learn and grow. I am ready for this challenge now, which is why it arrived at my feet. Discomfort and pain aren’t bad…they’re just signs that things are shifting and a breakthrough is imminent.
Sat. 3/3 Day off
Time flies! I can’t believe it’s been four days since I last wrote. The group I came in with has come and gone and camp is so quiet with just the staff here. I felt like I belonged to the client group, and it’s weird to now be left with the staff, who are super cohesive after weathering 10 trips together since December.
I bent to my desire for internet and went to the horse guy’s house with Italo to download my digital life onto my phone. FOMO comes rushing back in as I download text messages, emails, Whatsapp audio notes…apparently, life continues on in the outside world and it’s a little torturous to remind myself of it. But I also look around and see the beauty of the Patagonia mountains surrounding me, and I take a deep breath, holding gratitude for the opportunity to make progress with my struggle against FOMO. Fuck yeah, Nic! You can do this! You got this!
It’s weird how quickly things can start to feel like normal and you establish a routine of coming back in the afternoon, hitting the hot tub and open bar, dinner bell, and another delicious meal served. And I’ve gotten into naked hot tubbing, naked swimming, peeing in front of everyone, and lots of love.
Mon. 3/12, End of trip
The second week I really became an accepted member of the staff and it was awesome to do hard, manual work like lifting rafts out of the water and feel a part of the team like at Burning Man. I truly feel I’m most authentically and fully expressed when I get to explore my far extremes, corporate and nomadic; professional and adventurer; domestic and international. Being back on the road, joking in Spanish, doing crazy “chit”…these are all important parts of what makes me me.
The second trip was so different…the guests older and less vibrant, partly due to colder and rainier weather that made the river rage. I “swam” four times on the Rio Azul in duckies and slammed my knee a couple times. I had to use veterinarian-quality arnica in questionably high amounts. By the end of the week, I was really dragging myself over the finish line, having left everything in Patagonia!
Here’s my recap on Facebook:
Teaching yoga with live savasana music,
rafting / kayaking the majestic Rio Futaleufu and Azul,
“going swimming” from a duckie on the Cheese Grater,
(naked) hot tubbing/rope swinging,
rainy dance parties with Shaggy,
hitting and tending the open bar,
learning to be a barista,
om-nom-noming on delicious food,
horse back riding,
using horse rheumatism medicine,
singing along to broken bicycle at the bonfire,
loving the Southern Cross,
exchanging dirty jokes with the cocineras,
communing with nature,
making new friends,
experiencing anxiety-inducing and
eventually liberating freedom from the internet, and
joining the amazing Bio Bio staff!