Uncertainty equals possibility

8 mins read
Credit: Brian Perlmutter

Travelling as a career

A well-rounded traveller, Brian has spent the past five years making his way across the world. Prior to that, he worked within the film industry in L.A. – a path he veered off due to burnout. As part of recovery he decided to take a leap of faith and see what else was out there, by embarking on a solo-backpacking trip.

First stop was India. The month he had planned to stay quickly turned into four. This was right up Brian’s lane. The further he went, the deeper he fell for this thrilling, nomadic lifestyle. 

Credit: Aine Donnellan

He soon realized travelling was something he wanted to pursue as far as career goes, so he started building up a network during his excursions. As a result, he landed a role as a content-producer at the Indian hostel-chain Zostel in January this year. Without hesitation he packed his bags and boarded a plane to Delhi.  

This next chapter had hardly begun when COVID hit and Brian was forced to return home to California. This is where we find him, to pick his backpacker-brain for some advice on how to best deal with the societal situation we’re currently in. 

Thriving of the uncertain

As an optimist, Brian is someone who loves change as he sees it as a possibility for something greater than what already is.

“I like possibilities and to me, that uncertainty, the not knowing – that is possibility.

That’s options right there. When things are concrete and booked in, there’s no chance for surprises or things that take you off guard.” 

Reflecting over why he chose to settle in India, Brian points to the high energy of the nation.

Credit: Aine Donnellan

“What a lot of people find really intimidating about India is what I really like – the energy. It’s very chaotic, very high paced, you have to be on your toes, fast-thinking and I really like that. I like to be involved in life and not just sleep-walk through it, and I feel alive there.”

Change is only natural 

As a passionate globetrotter, strict borders and heavily restricted traveling has caused obvious havoc to Brian’s plans for the future. This is something he’s firmly decided not to fret over.

“Many people look at the world and don’t want it to change, thinking ‘this is the way things are and how they’re always going to be’ and we’re taught to fear any kind of upheaval. However, to me, life is constantly changing and in order to get the most out of it, you have to adapt.”

Credit: Aine Donnellan

“So, to someone who struggles to deal with uncertainty, I would just say take a step back and realize that life itself is at its core uncertainty and by embracing that, you are able to thrive more than if you avoid it.”

“You learn by doing, you either sink or you swim. I think, with more of a positive approach and accepting change, people do swim more often than not.”

How to deal with global uncertainties

“My personal philosophy when it comes to a lot of things, is embrace it. I don’t let the sense of lack of control affect me, I don’t let it cause me anxiety. Because at its heart – that uncertainty when it comes to climate change or COVID, that’s just impossible to fully control anyways.”

How to deal with lockdown

“We’re all stuck here in quarantine, in lock-down. We can’t go places, can’t do the things we normally do – rather than get mopy, this time next year, chances are I’m gonna be wishing there was just a time I could take a break and sit on the couch and watch TV, guilt-free and watch something you know.”

“The more we worry about stuff we can’t control, the more unnecessary suffering we cause ourselves, so rather spend that energy focusing on living. Eventually things will get better, it’s inevitable.”

“Things go up and they go down, we just have to ride the waves and make the best out of it – that’s essentially what I’ve been trying to do. Everyday, make the best about it.”

Credit: Aine Donnellan

Attempting to fill his days in quarantine with something worthwhile, Brian’s been testing out new things on a weekly basis.

“I’ve been going through phases, I’ll do things very intently for a week or two but then I get bored and move onto something new haha. I got obsessed with crossword-puzzles a few weeks back – I could sit there all day and do them one after another. Now I’ve moved on to camping with my roommates.” 

The big life-topics

When asked for advice on how society as a whole could learn to deal better with uncertainty, Brian sits quiet for a moment. A small crease appears between his ever-smiling eyes. 

“That’s a tough question, but I have some thoughts on it. For a long time, society has been stuck between this dichotomy of progressive and conservative. I think that needs to go away. I think conservative ideology needs to go away.”

And not for any political reasons, but more from the standpoint of ‘life is constantly changing and evolving’ and we need to be able to build systems that allow humans to quickly adapt to the constant change of times.”

Credit: Aine Donnellan

“A conservative ideology effectively states that they want things to stay the way they are, sometimes to go backwards. It assumes that things will always be a certain way.” 

“To me, that is fighting the natural flow of time. I disagree with saying conservative and progressive ideologies are just as good, two different sides to the same coin. I believe that there can be different beneficial ideologies than a progressive ones – but I don’t believe the conservative way of thinking adds value to our societies.” 

“For us to be able to embrace uncertainty as a society and tackle global problems that are facing us right now, we have to be able to progress. That’s my personal thoughts on it, more on the cultural-side-of-things rather than political. Adapt or perish, that’s the way of the world.” 

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