“Living the dream” isn’t reserved for travelling (By: Tyler J-Putz)


As I lay in a hammock in the early hours of the evening – half buzzed on a combination of beer and local Indonesian coconut based booze, watching small lizards attack bugs around the only working light on my balcony – life begins to cross my mind.  For the last five years of my life I’ve changed my status from being a full blown Canadian to becoming a nomad who is “from Canada”.  For the most part, the change has been exhilarating and fast paced, but on a night like tonight, thoughts of what could have been creep into my mind.  

The three most common questions I have been asked during my weekend on the island of Nias are, in order:

1. What is your name?
2. Where are you from?
3. Are you married?

The first two questions are easy enough to answer; my name is Tyler and I’m from Canada. The third question is actually pretty easy too. I am single and have been travelling solo most of my journey. The joys of travelling solo are stories best saved for another post, but tonight this question makes me start thinking.

I have heard many times from friends, family, and even complete strangers, when talking about my life over the last five years that I am “living the dream.”  Most days I would agree; It’s true that I have travelled to over 30 countries, have officially moved to four countries long enough to open a bank account, and met more amazing people than I can even think to remember. And yes, that’s pretty incredible. But I always wonder: whose dream it is I’m living?  

When I hear that saying, “living the dream,” I always start to think about what else I could be doing in life if different choices were made.  When I was finishing up with my studies in university, I had the opportunity to follow a very different life path.  I was in love with a woman. Things were just about as good as they could be.  The only problem was that when we began talking about what we wanted for the rest of our lives, our plans never seemed to go in the same direction. Inevitably I made the selfish decision and chose to follow what I wanted for myself.  

I do not regret the decisions that were made, but this moment still sticks with me, and makes me wonder what would have happened had I chosen differently. I’m at that wonderful age – heightened by the era of social media – where several of my friends are getting married and having kids.  When I see these posts, I think to myself, “they must be so happy.” And then I wonder why no one comments on these posts with that same “living the dream” sentiment.

Because I like to think if I had made the choice to stay in Canada and compromise instead of being selfish, I would still be living the dream. By this point in life I’d imagine we would be happily married with at least one little munchkin running around the house.  My life would be completely different, and I definitely wouldn’t be listening to the waves in Indonesia while laying in a hammock right now – but I think the dream would have still stayed the same. Because really, isn’t everyone’s dream to just be happy and enjoy the the moments life throws your way?

All the happiness that I have experienced in my journey has been shared with friends who mostly lack the ability to relate to what I’ve been doing.  When I hear their stories, I am so disconnected from their lifestyle that I find it hard to relate also. But this difference doesn’t really matter because ultimately, everybody’s dreams vary is scope and relevance to others.  I think at the end of the day, we all just want to find things that make us happy.  If I had gone down a different path in life, I still would find a way to be living the dream.  I appreciate the people who recognize the pleasure I have found in my travels – but I’m well aware that although my lifestyle is different, it’s not the ultimate. Everyone is living the dream – it just happens to be different.



  1. Grandma says:

    Great story Ty. Keep living the dream but hope you will find someone to share it with too ( but don,t wait too long or I won,t be here to meet her). As long as you are happy that,s all that matters. Love

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