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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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One click away

So I did it. After seeing it popping up on my Instagram feed for the last week and pointedly ignoring it, refusing to give in to the status quo, I finally caved and followed the link in that sponsored ad. I felt like a rat being lured by tasty bait, but so be it.

I suppose there is a point to popular trends, the whole belonging and community and whatnot that comes from popular culture. (As we speak popular culture, I bought a pair of Champion loafers last week, followed by research on the genesis of the brand. More on that at some other time. But those who wish to read may do so in a Google search.

This is all to say that I have recognised in myself a sort of experimenter of goods and services. I follow trails both beaten and unbeaten, popular and unpopular, trendy and untrendy, but I call it research. Let us agree on this). And so it is that I clicked on Be Unsettled and then promptly followed the cookie crumbs to the website beunsettled.co. It’s a wonderful and attractive tag line.

The universe has a way, or perhaps it is your heightened perception when you manage, in a fit of boredom, to keep bumping across the very things that will intensify the feeling. And so it is that, in what has been almost two months of excruciating boredom, I bumped into the Be Unsettled community. (Disclaimer: my partner has nothing to do with this. I am a firm believer in "no one is responsible for my happiness but me." Our interactions are highly entertaining and stimulating. But this is like meditation. Sometimes when the outside world is louder it is difficult to maintain mental equilibrium. The practice continues, however).

There is in my head a general boredom that occurs from hearing the same political and social stories.

I do not mean to demean anyone’s experience of the world. The fact that there is a constant need to reinforce positive thoughts, to reinforce the idea of karma and retribution, and so on and so forth, is as legitimate as my need to unplug and seek out a tribe that is living momentarily away from that world. We carry our experiences within us but travel allows a vision of alternate worlds.

To feel the same ideas floating around the landscape for what seems like a hundred years, the same attitudes day in, day out, coupled with the sudden jolt of fear that I may be perpetuating the same type of thinking masked in some different form, almost brought my writing to a screeching halt last week. I can still trudge through boredom, but not through the fear that I am slowly becoming stagnated and lazily recycling the same ideas as everyone else or falling into the trap of not digging deep enough. I could feel the hysteria that Naipaul once described at waking up from a dream that he had returned permanently to Trinidad. It is in this mood, I am ready to throw caution to the wind and head off into the unknown.

The idea of Be Unsettled capitalises on this very-near-hysteria that many people experience, some to a lesser degree than others. It profits off the need for escape, whether from routine or from a need for ideas.

The pitch: "Unsettled is a global travel community for those who embrace uncertainty and value meaningful human connection. Who believe that feeling a little bit 'unsettled' is a positive impulse for change, innovation, and discovery in our lives." (beunsettled.co).

Offering packages to various destinations, the curated activities, the gentle guidance and readymade community makes it an attractive offer. In other words, no need to build your community. It’s already there for you, a pool of people who want the same thing. It is a space for artists, entrepreneurs, freelancers, basically an age group of people in their 30s to early 40s.

This age grouping in itself says a lot about our modern life. Solo travellers are a target audience. And this too speaks to the increased need for belonging that characterises what seems to be a fractured existence. That it is actually populated by such travellers is an acknowledgment that you are complete in yourself. There is no "other half," just two individuals coming together as a complement to share ideas and construct a life together.

"Be unsettled" plays on the feeling of uncertainty that characterises the world of fast connection and growth that is no longer loyal to fixed ideas of job security. I suppose this curated travel experience is a momentary entry into home, where home is really not a physical place but a mental and emotional vibration that strengthens with human interaction.

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