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Naked Worth

by nate on June 16, 2010

A theoretical room you will exist in for a moment.

I was having lunch today with a friend in Brooklyn, reflecting on the last 9 months of my life. While talking about the lessons, thoughts, ideas, and sensations of travel, I found myself really trying to describe what makes it all worth it.  I was sitting across from her, broke, in need of a haircut, with no job, and all the other realities that come from quitting and rejoining society.

So I began to describe a theoretical way of gauging this worth which became “naked worth.”

Imagine you’re sitting in restaurant and suddenly, POOF! A bright flash, and everything disappears except people. Your table, chair, clothes, bags, and even your food disappears. Looking around, you notice that  in fact all that’s left is some dull gray walls. As you look at the other people that were in the restaurant, you’re confused because now you can’t decipher  the server, VIP guests, cook, or cleaner. You also can’t remember what you did for a living, any jargon, deadlines, or profession. That information is not important here, because money doesn’t exist here. All that had so easily defined you and everyone else is now gone, and it’s not coming back in this room.

Everyone begins to move around for a few awkward moments, and slowly the chatter begins. New sets of people begin forming and chatting about some really interesting stuff. There’s no stress, just talk. Unique conversation begin because now everyone’s worth to each other is what they share. Personalities, insights, ideas, and gestures begin creating new relationships with these random people, because they’re naked of everything money, status or job related and seen for their “naked worth.”

I think traveling is a great investment in one’s “naked worth,” because:

  • You become a slightly better person to have on earth.
  • You add a little more humanity in the world.
  • You have a more patience, kindness, and  perspective.
  • You have more tales that expand and excite the people around you.

It doesn’t translate to being smarter, making more money, or being more interesting. It can easily be all or none of these. It’s more of a humanity fabric within. So long-term travel will certainly increase your “naked worth,” and when you’re standing naked amongst the other people, you will be different.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Picard Clemence 06.18.10 at 10:02 am

Hi Nat and Becca
What a nice article (as the others..), you put words on what we often feel. I love this concept of “naked worth”
We are also back home now with Guillaume, back to reality!
Have fun and see you perhaps in a next trip!

David Wicks 06.24.10 at 12:52 pm

Have you read “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde? This resonates with his discussions of gift economies, where one’s value to the group—and therefore value as a person—is determined by what they give away. It’s an economy based on use value rather than exchange value. Ultimately, one that I wish our current system were closer to.

nate 06.25.10 at 3:55 pm

Haven’t read it yet, but definitely adding to the list!

Thanks for the response David!

nicole califano 07.13.10 at 9:52 pm

i’ve heard similar thoughts about leaving society and adjusting to rejoining from some of my female friends who are now moms. specifically the ones who are deciding on re-joining the workforce after a few yrs being a stay at home mom.
i agree, i think being “away” for whatever reason and then coming back (when people, places, things have moved on) really leads to personal growth.
oh and hi!

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