Travels, Musings and Observations

Josiah Zittel


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A Morning In Bhaktapur

Seeing as I just started this blog, this is a throwback to my status update on the Facebooks from a few days ago.

Currently in Bhaktapur, a culturally rich and ancient city about 15km to the East and slightly South of Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, where I stayed prior to journeying here. This morning as I was eating breakfast on the third floor of the little guest house I'm staying at, I stood up with my cup of masala tea and walked to the edge of the brick wall serving as a rail. I looked out into the streets and observed the people walking up and down the brick road: a man possibly on his way to work; a woman dressed in a business suit with a briefcase; various people stopping to purchase fresh produce at the quaint market stalls; and tourists, with their stereotypically mundane outfits and seemingly oversized cameras strung around their necks like every other tourist, who invoke a certain level of pity within me for their loss of learning from the lack of engagement with their surroundings - instead (as I have noticed with the vast majority of them), they seem to be isolated in their own world and moving around in a sort of impenetrable sphere of their own cultural reality, merely passing through briefly like a will-o'-the-wisp only to return home unchanged and unaffected by the stark contrasts of another people's reality in comparison to their own.

I then turned my gaze to the beautifully sunlit rooftops with their little gardens of colorful flowers and noticed a young girl of maybe 15 sitting there on the crest, drinking masala tea in the morning warmth. On the next roof over, a middle-aged woman came and rested her forearms on the rail, hands clasped, as she leaned over and - likewise to myself - observed the people passing by. A distant and pondering gaze that I'm all too familiar with. The young girl stands up and walks near the edge, playing with the flowers absent-mindedly for a short time before walking back across the metal sheets of roofing and down a hole into her home. Just another morning.

I can't help but thinking of how strange it all is. I'm in this new and uniquely magnificent little city, and everything seems to have some mysterious aura around it as if it came right out of a story. Brilliantly vivid and completely different from anything I've seen, and yet here's this girl, estranged from all the beauty I'm witnessing. For her, I'm merely an extra on set; just a person at the restaurant across the street; a two-dimensional character with no depth or meaning; just another face. She has her life, her past, both nostalgic and painful memories and her friends, and I have mine, but they exist disregarding each other. And although I observe this, it's not unlike my own estrangement from the uniqueness of where I live. In fact, it's very much like the disconnect I experience when I'm home.

Which brings me to one of my observations of why traveling is so wonderful: it shakes up the settled dust of monotony. Day after day we do the same things, go to the same places, eat the same food, waste our time in the same ways, and thus we lack any sort of new neural stimulation; life just becomes a constant repeat, a gradual blur, a state of déjà vu. We crave for something to change, but we fear the very thing we crave. Our world becomes small and our feelings numb, and apathy ensues quickly. As I have noticed, in repetition lies monotony; monotony, boredom; boredom, laziness; and laziness, apathy. And that is the worst state of feeling (or lack thereof) to be in. Simply living in a comfort zone is not living at all; it's just dying without excitement.

The Mentality Behind the Magic Touch, by Derek Sivers


Derek Sivers is holding a one-time class to teach you the "magic touch" in business, with examples, war stories, and lessons you can apply right now to do better by your customers and profit as a result of it -- and all the proceeds will go to charity.

The class will be on February 19th at 5PM California time (8PM East Coast). You can find out more at GiveGetWin by clicking here.

The Mentality Behind the Magic Touch; Derek Sivers interviewed by Chiara Cokieng

Derek Sivers sold CDBaby for $22 million dollars in 2008. In this interview, he explains what he's been doing now, how he's engaged with his new projects, and -- most excitingly for business owners and entrepreneurs -- the mentality behind the "magic touch" he had that made CDBaby so loved by its customers, and a huge part of how it grew so quickly. Here's Derek --

In 2008, when I sold CDBaby, I was about to start a new company immediately. Literally the day after I sold CDBaby, I was ready to start my next company. I incorporated it, I started programming, got a few months into building it, and then realized that if I were to do that, I wouldn’t be making any real change in my life.

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