“Don’t Stop Living” – Unknown Toronto-based High School graffiti artist, 2001.
Rarely when you are aware of things in life, do you question their meaning or the reasoning behind it all, or the crazy genius hidden within, if there ever is one. We don’t have time to dwell, well I don’t. Life moves fast. For those who read Don’t Stop Living on a regular basis, what you get to know is the personality behind it. The person that writes it – me, Jonny Blair. But somewhere along the line things got mis-construed. I got carried away in the buzz of long term professional travel blogging. That was the dream wasn’t it? Or was it really?
Being able to travel the world for virtually no money at all, sponsored tours, sponsored five star resorts, free dorm beds, all the while writing about it and going where I wanted, telling you all how rock’n’roll it is to throw fireballs in El Salvador, watch Northern Ireland beat the Ukraine 2-0 and feed hyenas in Ethiopia. I lived the dream and did it. But here’s the real deal – Don’t Stop Living as a message and website has only ever meant ONE THING to me, and to you. It has nothing to do with travel blogging or even backpacking. And this is it:
“Don’t Stop Living” by Jonny Blair, definition: To live every day with fulfilment and joy, just in case it’s your last. Live life to the maximum. DSL/Don’t Stop Living.
Our days are numbered and we rarely learn that number. We are not exactly sure when our time is up. I don’t ever want my time to be up, but when it is, I want to know that I enjoyed myself. I had fun. I made myself happy, I made others happy and we had a good time. A happy time, a peaceful time and a fun loving time.
“I want all of this tonight, give me everything tonight. For all we know, we might not get tomorrow” – Pitbull.
Four years ago I was in Laos and Cambodia on a break from teaching English in Hong Kong. I wanted to travel a bit more, and a bit more, and a bit more. I was deeply in love with my girlfriend Panny and things were good. Life was good. I changed my old blog to a new self-hosted platform, keeping the name “Don’t Stop Living” but selling it as a one man travel blog. A real life travel blog. This became hugely successful on a personal level for me. I became a professional travel blogger with relative ease, I already had all the stories, all the experience and a degree in PR. Now I was earning cash from it, a few years on from this, I’d hardly worked a day for anyone other than myself. My relationship with Panny came to an end though, and travel blogging may well have played a part in it. I know that. I couldn’t go on in the same way and despite trying again to settle in Hong Kong in 2015, I just couldn’t live there and constantly just be blogging so I headed back out on the journey and waved bye to a five year relationship. On the blogging scene itself, I didn’t want to be the popular one, I never want to be the popular one. I despise the fake popularity of it all, good example below:
I wanted to go against the flow and I still strive to be the unknown one, the overlooked one in a world of wannabes. Each day and night I dream up new crazy places to visit, places like Karakalpakstan, French Guyana and Gorno Badakhshan. Off the scale spots that other tourists avoid. That was what made me continue to be inspired through all of this. My visits to obscure countries got my mind away from the split. That was my way of not stopping living. You will find your own way to not stop living.
Travel blogging for a living became too easy and in the last 3 years of my life, I have earned more money travel blogging (month for month) than I did as a PR rep for Apple Inc. in London in 2006. In those three years, apart from 5 months of teaching in Hong Kong (to earn extra cash for my Brazil World Cup trip in 2014), I have been self employed all because of Don’t Stop Living. That meant I was in danger of becoming another commercial twat. Yes, I was still your perpetual tourist on the move but lust for gold over love isn’t always a healthy thing.
BUT I’m sure I forgot the message I meant to send. I didn’t want Don’t Stop Living to become another travel blog adding to the pile of thousands of wannabes who backpack the world and write about it. Don’t Stop Living is only my personal website which I wanted to tell my stories hoping they might inspire others to live a life of adventure. To live a life of fulfilment. Every day we should be happy and live that day like our last. My stories are not only about travel. I talk about my lifestyle, the ups and downs of it all, I write about football. As I write this, I am in the process of writing a long awaited article for my old Secondary School Annual magazine. I’ve mellowed since the days of nicking exam papers, that’s for sure. I would never have agreed to write for them a few years back as I hated that school. But all of these things in our lives are ways to “not stop living.”
So, the irony here is, the message of “Don’t Stop Living” has nothing to do with travel. It has nothing to do with travel AT ALL. And it never had anything to do with travel. It applies to every walk of life. It was just a human message to “not stop living a cool life”, basically if you read this – the message is – ENJOY YOURSELF TODAY. As we might not have tomorrow to do it all.
I loved being a professional travel blogger the last 4 years or so, but I need to be happy in my life, and you need to be happy in yours. So don’t forget the message and the real meaning here – this might be a “travel blog” but really it just means “live a bloody good life, EVERY DAY”. In short, “Don’t Stop Living”. Does this mean I’m going to change the logo and stop calling it a “travel blog”? No, but it’s nice to clear up the meaning of the blog finally, some 9 years after launching this thing.
FACT – the title of this blog, “Don’t Stop Living” was stolen. I was walking past a High School Wall in Toronto, Canada in 2001 and I saw etched on the wall in red, in capital letters and with an apostrophe, “DON’T STOP LIVING”, it read. I liked it. I loved it. I jotted it down and I made a career out if it. It’s an odd world after all.
As the saying goes, “Don’t Stop Living”. The song remains the same.
Jonny Blair, 28th June 2016