Alan Lilienthal

San Diego, USA


“Whatever art I make, whether film, movies, music, I wanna have an internationally recognized name. Not only for my own art, but for having the power and resources to help making other peoples dreams come true.”

On first steps

“Act like the person you wanna be. Start in the smallest way acting like the person that you dream of being and you´ll eventually become that.”


guitar hero, traveler and radio show host

It´s been October 2015 when Alan walked up my staircase. In his hands a suitcase and his guitar, on his mind the idea of surfing my couch for three days. It should have been a short stopover in Vienna while on his nine month trip through Europe. He stayed one entire month and also witnessed the very beginning of this whole idea. That it has developed in such a way has a lot to do with dozens of super inspiring conversations with Alan on my couch. I think there are many things we can learn from him – his way of following dreams is certainly one of them.

3 takeaways from my nine month trip through Europe

Alan´s adventurous way of traveling like a vagabond fascinated and inspired me. I asked him to share with us what he has learned from this journey. I think the result is nothing less than a beautiful tribute to traveling itself.

1. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad and lonely at times

So very often, traveling around the world is the culmination of months or years of dreaming and planning. We spend our days fantasizing about how great it’s going to be when we’re finally on our trip. This is why, when sadness or “negative” feelings come up while we’re traveling, we tell ourselves, “Why am I down right now? I shouldn’t be sad! I’m on the trip of my dreams!” We then distract or numb ourselves and forcefully convince ourselves we have no right to feel bad. While it may not always be conscious, this is a process we all go through. And in my humble opinion, this is not the right approach.

Sadness is an inevitable part of life. For me, the sadness was most present when moving from one place to a new place, and when saying bye to great friends I met along the way. Sometimes, it even came up out of nowhere. Traveling brings you deeply in tune with the temporariness of life. The act of constantly having to let go of places and people you fell in love with makes you acutely aware of how impermanent life really is. It is okay to feel sad in these moments. The choice comes in deciding how you deal with this sadness. You can distract yourself and suppress the negative feelings. In my experience, however, suppressing any of life’s emotions limits all emotions. By not exploring the full depth of all your emotions, you put a ceiling on how much you can feel. This means the amount of joy you can feel is lessened, too. Allowing yourself to open fully to all of your emotions expands your ability to feel the infinitely layered richness of life.

Instead of hiding from sadness, you can choose to let it teach you about the preciousness of each moment. You can let it deepen your gratitude for every beautiful person and place you’ve had the privilege of knowing. The truth is, life is temporary. That’s not going to change. Sadness doesn’t have to weigh you down and make you want to crawl in bed to hide from it. It really can open your being to new dimensions of appreciation and love of life. But it’s a choice, and one you have to practice consistently. Every time you get sad, notice it, observe it. Don’t hide from it. When your every instinct tells you to do something, anything, to get rid of it, stop yourself and say “Thank you. Thank you for this moment.” Gratitude is a muscle, and the more you build it, the stronger it becomes. Eventually, the inevitable sadness won’t feel like a burden anymore. It will feel like an opportunity to appreciate the miracle of each and every moment more powerfully, and that is a beautiful gift.

2. Challenge yourself into the Unknown

You’re already traveling and living a dream. What this magical trip didn’t have to end when you fly back home, but could continue expanding and teaching you things way into the future? It can. What did it for me was consistently challenging myself to do things I would have never done back home. Traveling is like a blank canvas that allows you to explore with new colors and styles of painting you would be too scared of to try at home. Seek out social situations you would never have participated in. Go start conversations with interesting looking strangers. Volunteer to help people who need help. Go out of your way to make yourself uncomfortable, and learn to thrive in the discomfort. It will be uncomfortable. Any new activity always is. It will take patience and consistence. Anything of value always does. But I promise you, traveling to unknown lands can be much more than seeing pretty sights and eating exotic food. It can also be an opportunity to travel to unknown internal lands. To explore new ways of being in the world. To realize that who you’ve always thought you were can change and expand and be so much more than you ever imagined. Challenging our self-limiting beliefs and practicing new behaviors is the best way to break self-imposed molds, and I can’t think of a better time to do this than while you’re traveling. Expanding your knowledge of the world can complement and indeed enhance the expanding of your inner world. But you have to work at it. I promise, however, that your inner-fortitude, your confidence, and your appreciation of yourself will be souvenirs that stay and grow forever. And when you come home, your knowledge won’t be limited to naming the capital of Thailand or being able to recall all the plazas in Barcelona, you’ll have self-knowledge – an expanding understanding of who you are and how much you’re capable of becoming.

3. Have fun

At the end of the day, traveling is about having fun. So drink, smoke, meditate, eat, whatever. Do what makes you happy and don’t ever not do something out of laziness. Take chances and dive into new adventures. I could keep writing cliches for days, but I’ll end with this. In two hundred years, every person you see pulsing with life will be but a thought. Remember this when your fears seem too strong to move through. Remember that death awaits us all, and all you can do is enjoy the living shit out of every moment. So enjoy it, close your eyes, and jump.

Alan on “Thousand First Steps”

Alan was the first person who got to know about this idea. He was sitting next to me when Martin and me planted the first seed. Also Alan was a great support during the weeks that followed. Some great ideas emerged from our conversations. Read his thoughts on the project here.

I remember sitting in Jakob’s couch when he first received the invitation from Martin to do this crazy around-the-world trip. I was on a long trip of my own, so naturally, I encouraged it as much as I could. To witness the whole process – from it being a small seed to a little plant to today, when the fully grown tree is about to bear fruit – is nothing short of magical. It is so incredibly fulfilling to see the growth of such a cool project. Traveling, especially with the purpose of self-actualization like Jakob is doing, is one of the great gifts we can give ourselves. Taking bold leaps into unknown lands to meet people who think and live differently from you is a great form of service. It increases deep empathy and builds multi-national connections that show us all how no matter where we come from, we are much more similar than we know. In a time when nations want to build walls to divide us, I can’t think of a more important thing to do than reaching out to foreign peoples and uniting in the spirit of our shared humanity. I’m honored to know Jakob and cannot wait to see where this trip leads him.

Connect with Alan on facebook.

Alan weekly hosts interesting people with exciting projects in and around San Diego on his radio show. Find more informations about CURA CAOS here.

More people that inspired Thousand First Steps: Martin Løken & Martin Trümmel

Bist du ready, um deine 3 größten inneren Saboteure zu transformieren?

Werde Teil unserer Community und hol' dir meine 1,5-stündige MASTERCLASS inkl. LIVE-MEDITATION als Willkommensgeschenk kostenlos in deinen Posteingang!

Schön, dass du nun Teil der Community bist! Danke für deine Anmeldung zu meinem Newsletter. Du bekommst in Kürze ein E-Mail mit deinem Bestätigungslink. Falls nicht, schau bitte auch in deinem Spam-Ordner nach :-)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This