A Travellerspoint blog

I WILL PREVAIL!

This post might seem a bit random and out of the blue but as I can't yet externalize my thoughts to a concrete person or group, I am shouting out loud to all and everyone who wants to read whatever I'm gonna write.

There are different ways to live our lives. I know how I like to live mine. Keeping it simple. Making it special. Treasuring the little but extremely important things. I'm always for the underdog. I value superation and resilience. One moment of deserved glory is pure bliss. I am all about DIY (do it yourself). Small record stores, indie labels, small cafes, small bookstores, DIY tennis clubs. In my opinion, all those persons around the world that dedicate their lives to their passion and build something with it, are the ones that make this fucked up world a little bit better. They dare to follow their dream and they stand for their values. They do something meaningful. I loathe the emptiness of the corporate world. I hate profit oriented motivations and all that fucking shit around that evil thing: money.

Working in sports, I'm all about the olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger. I focus in being good, not better than the others. Being better than the others is just a consequence of being good, not the the other way around. I put all my passion in my fucking tennis school, trying to pass those values to all my students and their families and everyone that knows ETCAF. And since I started, in 2008, that I've seen my little "baby" become one of the biggest passions in my life and the one accomplishment I'm most proud of. No one can take that away from me.

ETCAF is a product of one vision I had and I built it alone (sounds arrogant, but it's the truth). Over the years, I got no support from no official entity, public or private. No one cared. But still we strived and grew. We grew from zero and with zero investment. We added value to the city and tennis only with our passion and hard work. My greatest luck was to have wonderful parents who always gave me confidence, a great groupf of kids and their amazing families who believed in my vision and share the same dream, bringing their friends and families to our club and transmitting them the ETCAF spirit. I also have the luck to work, since 2011, with a coach that completed integrated this spirit and has been the best "right hand" a leader can have.

But still, everyday is a struggle, like every small business owner struggles to keep his dream alive. And once in a while, rumours circulate that my club is gonna be put out of business by greater powers, with means and connections to build a better, bigger and more modern complex, with topo notch facilities. These greater powers are not based in merit or anything. Just money and power, in itself, expressed in having the right connections with politicians, for example.

Today is one of those days. Again, there are rumours I'm gonna be facing tremendous competition from a new state of the art private tennis club in my hometown. With the help of the city hall, who doesn't give a fuck that we are making an incredible work, expressed in the high number of students and also having some of the best players in the region.

In days like today I get fucking scared, I admit. But I feel more alive than ever as well. I feel that I am invencible and that I will prevail against everything that is wrong in this world. "Bring it on, motherfuckers", that's what I think. Because I do something good, with no second intentions besides sharing my love for tennis with other people and make kids happy.

ETCAF has a huge soul. I even had friends all over the world buying our hoodies (i'm forever grateful for that, best thing ever). I love all my students and families who are part of that spirit. They are my greatest strenght and the steam that keeps me going. But the world is full of injustices and we never know what the future brings.

I don't know much right now. I just know that my life is as uncertain as it always have been.

BUT I'M FUCKING RELENTLESS!!!! (BUMMMM, drops the mic and walks away) :)

Posted by ZackFontang 10:58 Archived in Portugal Comments (2)

Tugboat captain.

Surprisingly enough, in over 3 years writing this blog about travels and (mostly) about my thoughts and feelings, I never wrote deeply about my supreme love for music. As much as I have thought about it, I never dared to sit and start trying to put in words feelings and emotions that belong to ethereal domains, I guess supra-rational even. Any attempt would only diminish the extension of such true love. Therefore, I'm not here to talk about music, although I'll start with it.

My musical journey continues almost on a daily basis. Discovering music is a huge part of my life. Like in many other things, I don't follow a specific direction or genre, I discover music somehow randomly and based on some kind of connection I create with a band or a genre or a movement. Often I start "digging" in one side and end up finding completely different things which blow me away. Other times, I just attend concerts here in Porto and get introduced to whole new sounds of beauty. The latest band I found out that completely invaded my life was Galaxie 500, an indie band formed in Boston and that existed for a short period in the late 80's, which gained a cult status and is cited as a major influence to many other bands.

They have a song called "Tugboat" which sounds a bit silly at first and it's not even my favourite, but it kinda got stuck in my ear. While checking the lyrics, I found out that the song was written with reference to Sterling Morrison, a founding member of the Velvet Underground, who was a major influence for Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500). Apparently, after leaving the Velvet Underground, he went to work as a tugboat captain for some years during the 80's. So I went and check what a tugboat is and the song gained a whole new meaning and depth.

Anyway, the reason I'm talking about that song is that it made me reach the conclusion that I need a new chapter in my life. It's time to leave Porto.

When I came back from my roadtrip across USA (which, by the way, was the initial reason for this blog), I had just experienced one of the greatest adventures in my life which also represented two and a half years of financial choices towards that big goal. In many aspects, often I chose (or had to) not to live the present in order to be able to travel for several weeks in the States. I was fine with that, but after achieving that dream, I returned full of energy and wanting to live life to the fullest on a daily basis, without sacrificing the present over a future dream.

So I moved to Porto and fulfilled the life I was envisioning back then: get a nice flat in downtown, explore all the things happening in the city, meet new people and increase my cultural activities as much as possible. However, I continued working in my hometown, 30km south, so this vision represented a huge increase of my fixed monthly expenditure. Although it sounded crazy to most people, I was sure this was the right thing to do and in fact it was. Since I moved in October 2012, that I found a renewed love for the city and especially during the first year I led a very exciting and entertaining life. Neverthless, I thought it would be possible to have this life and still save money for future life changing trips. Basically I wanted it all: working in my dream job (ETCAF, an uncertain but truly rewarding struggle), live in the only "big" (for portuguese standards) city nearby my workplace and also be able to travel a lot.

Time and experience proved me wrong. Over the past two years and a half I was not able to save money to do a long trip, wherever it may be. For several reasons, which I don't regret at all, I'm still very distant to have the necessary amount of money to travel to South America for 7 or 8 weeks. I managed to travel a bit in Europe and in Portugal, but mostly short trips which, albeit good, didn't change my life or inspired me decisively.

So I'm back again to that purpose, I want to seek greatness. I miss the asphalt, I miss the long hours driving towards unknown lands. I miss the adventure. I miss feeling larger than my own life. I miss feeling infinite. I miss being flooded with love and joy from random people along the way.

That's why I need to leave Porto in some months and live near my hometown. Also because Porto is not New York or London or Berlin where life happens everywhere and all the time. Porto is not such a vibrant city worthy to sacrifice my need to travel. There are things that I feel only when traveling. The everyday life, as nice as it can be, can't produce such sensations. On the bright side, I'll be living only 30km away, so will be easy to come here.

I'm actually excited with my decision, which will allow me to travel already this summer (if nothing unexpected happens in the meantime). Maybe I'm getting old and nostalgic but this summer will be 10 years since I went to Budapest for my erasmus year. That was a defining moment in my life. So I feel like driving for an entire month across Europe and visit friends I've made during the past decade. I genuinely miss them all. Plus, the idea of being back on the road for long hours is enlighting my days. I miss that freedom.

And I also set another deadline. In 2016 I'm gonna travel again for a long time. South America, Asia, whatever. For me, it is never about the destination, it's about going somehwere, for going's sake.

One thing is sure, Galaxie 500 will be part of the playlist for the road! Here's one of my favourites:

Posted by ZackFontang 13:36 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

realms of the mind

Today I discovered that I am an autotelic person.

Here's the definiton, in the words of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding. Because such persons experience flow in work, in family life, when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they are less dependent on the external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life composed of routines. They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be as easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside. At the same time, they are more involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life."

The concept of flow is also very interesting. More info here: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29)

I'm lucky to have the chance to keep learning about so many interesting topics which help me understand who I am, where I come from and where I'm headed, spiritually and emotionally.

Also I just realized that 3 years ago today I was in London watching Explosions in the Sky playing at Brixton Academy. Found out this amazing video that someone made about his experience as well. http://vimeo.com/36056225. I think the images and the song speak for itself.

Dusk in Cortegaça, Portugal. 24th of January 2015.

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Posted by ZackFontang 17:19 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Berlin 1989 - 2009 - 2014

The Berlin Wall was torn down 25 years ago today. In 2009, I was living in Berlin and on this very same day, I got the chance to attend the 20 year celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate with my italian friend Andrea, whom I had met in Porto one year before and was also living in Berlin at the time. A funny coincidence: on this same day, a Monday back then, I started my internship at the Embassy of Portugal and I remember they were all very agitated as our prime minister at the time was going to be attending the cerimony.

Andrea and I managed to get a nice spot in Pariser Platz right in front of the Gate and from there we could see all the action.

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One of the first symbolic moments was when all the leaders crossed the Branderburg Gate all together. Most of european leaders were there and also Hillary Clinton and Dimitri Medvedev, president of Russia at the time. Charismatic leaders of the final days of the Cold War such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa were amongst the guests. Our very own José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission at the time was also there.

After all the speeches and some musical moments, the big highlight of the night would be a giant domino made with 1000 pieces standing along the former wall and that were going to be toppled down.

It was a rainy evening but I was very excited with the fact I was in such a special place on such a special occasion. Let me remind you that this was 2009. The economic crisis was still a few months away from exploding in Europe and we were still a big happy family, celebrating an event that represented much of that union. However (and maybe the rain is to blame), this celebration was not so enthusiastic or cheerful as one could imagine it would be. I don't know how it was in 1989, but I heard stories of people celebrating all night and there was so much hope in the air, so many dreams becoming possible. 20 years later all that seemed somehow too normal and granted, so people were not ecstatic and as soon as the fireworks ended the cerimony, people just left orderly and quietly. Even my german girlfriend at the time arrived later because she prefered to attend university classes. To me, it was still a very special and beautiful moment. Here's a video that Andrea shot from where we were standing.

Back to 2014, today. We live in a different world. There's tension between Europe and Russia again. Putin is not going to be present. I'm curious to hear the speeches to see if they will have some substance or if they will be empty and filled only with demagogy. The fall of the Berlin Wall represented a wave of optimisim and faith in a better world that started to fade shortly after and we're all still decaying towards the unknown.

This is me in 2009 posing next to the fallen domino pieces!

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What's in the future for all of us? :)

Posted by ZackFontang 01:29 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Surviving the daily grind

Lately I haven't had the chance to fill my life with extraordinary and life changing trips which would give a lot of material to fill this blog and also my daily life with incredible stories and memories. As a matter of fact, I have been recently in Ireland for some days and it was amazing, but I'll keep those memories just for me.

Like most of the people on this Earth, I am confronted with the inevitable daily grind. Those boring mundane parts of everyday life. My challenge has been to make the best out of that situation and I'm actually happy with the outcome. But of course, as I have a lot of time, my mind keeps spinning and spinning, thinking and rethinking, wondering and dreaming, over and over again!

I have been reading some interesting books which also help me escape metaphysically to the daily routine and give me powerful insights on that thematic. For example, I was fascinated to find out that in the 1920's, the United States were already living in the consumerist era that we live today. I never thought it started so early there, I actually thought it was a post Second World War thing. But more importantly, it was enlightening to realize that in those times there were already people looking at society, especially at the middle class and underlying some of the current issues that we face today. I know that Thoreau and the transcendentalists have addressed similar issues long time before, but what suprised me the most were the many similarities between the 1920's and today. Reading about the inner conflicts of the main character, a married middle aged businessman called Babbitt living a big city felt like the stories we hear today about people living phony lives and hiding behind masks of happiness and perfection in the eyes of society, while secretly crying in dark corners. I guess I can quote Thoreau here: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation".

All this was as enlightning as it was frustrating. I lived for some time with the illusion that these issues were a problem of the past few decades, therefore we were all still trying to find the solution for them. Realizing these issues have been adressed more than a century and that society kept going in the same direction creates a sense of hopelessness in me. That there's no point in trying to change anything around me. There's no point in showing different ways of leading our lives to those friends or acquaintances that often feel miserable about what they made of their existence. Most of people are so brainwashed that they'll never be able to see the way out.

I diverged at the age of 24. Before that cold Thursday night, I lived a life of quiet desperation for 6 months until I stop listening to the others and followed my conscience, quitting my "perfect" job and the prospect of a career for a handful of dreams. Little did I know about life when I was 24, little did I know about me, but today I know it was totally right to follow my instincts and believe in me.

From that day on, I started to build my own way, my own lifestyle. It has been a hell of a struggle and nothing is ever granted, but it has been an amazing ride and I'm proud to still stand, almost 7 years later. People often see my pictures from the beach during typical work hours or trips I do and say my life is easy or that I'm such a lucky person. Well yes, I'm only lucky because I chose to be lucky and my life looks easy because I make it simple. But make no mistake, I'm no parasite and all I have (I don't mean material things, as I only own an old car) came from my own efforts. I fight daily and work hard to be able to continue with my own lifestyle. I contribute actively to society, even though I don't agree with the way it's organized. Recently I had the chance to sell out and get a safer job in tennis, but I refused because I believe in my dream and in my lifestyle. And I'm proud of that, as scary as it is.

I know I keep revolving around this topic. Maybe I write these words to the future me, as some kind of guideline to not get lost.

I guess I'll leave it for another time, but originally I wanted to dissert about how Nature is becoming such a major element in my happiness and my thoughts on how we all are attracted to it, no matter what. Mankind is at its best when it's in touch with Nature. Facing a beautiful landscape we all get stripped from all material and evil thoughts and just contemplate the beauty in front of us. Nature has the power to dehumanize us, but in a good way. If we keep that in mind constantly, our lives become immediately better, trust me.

Posted by ZackFontang 02:49 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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