In 2008, I traveled to Ecuador to fulfill a desire to see the world. That experience was the spark for a new journey the following year to over twenty countries; an experience of ebbs and flows, which ultimately was the kindling for what would become my passion. In 2010, the fire was raging, and I spent more time exploring the world. In 2012, after more sacrifices and money earnestly saved, I saw smoke signals coming from a land inhabited by infamous nomads. I followed those plumes to their source. Eventually, though, all roads lead to home.
During the summer of 2013, more on a whim and with little preparation, I packed my car and set off to explore the Pacific Northwest; a foreign landscape in my backyard. This trip incorporated every aspect of travel I was used to – budgets, living as a vagabond, learning new ideas and challenging myself. The vast difference between this adventure and all the others was independence from relying on external timelines and schedules.
While International travel offers a wide array of experiences, it remains constraining in that each activity must be scheduled around bus departures, train agendas, when the lady renting bicycles opens… You are always dependent on external forces. The convenience of one’s own car is missed dearly in these situations. Even having access to a car or motorbike abroad is limiting because road etiquette varies around the world. At home, your culture is well known. If a police officer is behind you with his lights on you can pull over rest assured that you will not be extorted for money. When a question comes to mind about a specific place it is easy to ask the closest person, not having to wander around looking for someone who looks like they can speak English. Or, when your motor vehicle breaks down you do not have to gasp with the un-easy feeling that you will be indefinitely stranded.
So, when I am in my element, free to whimsically choose what to do or where to go, my travels become more enlightening. The comforts of my own vehicle, a map that speaks my language, and an understanding that services are available on command (well, in most places in the U.S.) puts me at tremendous ease to enjoy what life should be about, exploration.
Only knowing the first destination, a continuing theme of my travels, I pulled out of the garage, calculated a Western bearing, and began to drive.
What comes next is not a day by day diary of where I went, what I saw or even random facts and figures of all the splendor that makes up planet Earth. The truth is, every time I wander away from jobs, the concern of money, participating in a rat race that was not designed for the average person to win, the more difficult it becomes to assimilate back into that world. The greatest challenge is the mystery of money. If money bought happiness, the ability to travel is definitely its most applicable context. But, without it, one must succumb to the reality that greenbacks are what gives us Freedom.
In the everlasting search for happiness, is this Freedom ever achieved through other means? Being fortunate to spend time in places most would vomit after laying eyes on, the answer is yes. Money and poverty interact on a level seldom thought about. While empty pockets signify material poverty, they do not exemplify poorness in the heart. Never disregard the fact that poverty is tough spiritually, mentally and physically. Also, never underestimate the power that having too much brings. The paradox of choice is a crippling side effect as marketing becomes increasingly mischievous, tricking us into believing we need more. Balancing wants and desires will bring harmony.
As the weeks blurred by during this summer cruise the miles added up, the amount of tuna packets consumed become uncountable and the awesomeness of what I was doing continued to unfold before my eyes.
Listen intently to the following:
These are the defining lyrics of the song. Along with the rest of the song, they signify that we restlessly work towards a self-defined freedom granted only at an advanced age when it is deserved. This idea is a daily battle for me. Figuring out a way to have the ability to travel while maintaining a meaningful career is my life-long quagmire. So, after five weeks and six thousand miles driven, I returned home again to continue searching for a way to fulfill the dream.
The preceding story has no ending. It was the prologue to the dialogue I hope to initiate between people. Post your comments on how you pursue your dreams. What stands between you and getting on the path towards them? How do you overcome the obstacles that get in the way? Email me your story if you think your it is shamefully unique and I will be the guise for getting your voice heard. I have learned that what I often think about is shared between many. How you make your pursuits a reality will inspire others to initiate their own. It is what we are here to do.