For a long time, I was lazy about how I lived my life and gathered experiences. I let other people do it for me. I surrounded myself with people who had far more interesting hobbies and desires than me because I didn’t feel like I had the wherewithal to get out and do the thing. I was too timid or unmotivated or both.
I wouldn’t be the one to make sure we left the house at 4 AM to score the giant bag of shady baked goods thrown out by the bakery down the street; or plan a trip to Costa Rica; or make arrangements for that big bonfire party. I would tag along and ferret those stories away to tell later.
I would remember them and feel like my life was filled with spectacular adventures but I always felt like a fraud. I was a big faker because these experiences weren’t my idea, they were the ideas of people in my life far more interesting than me.
I had fun telling these stories to new friends or acquaintances. It made me feel closer to the source of adventure and newness. But it became almost an exercise in name-dropping. Or story-dropping. I was that guy. I don’t want to be that guy.
It struck me that no one can make my life interesting but me. I started trying new things. My first spring break home in college I taught myself how to knit when no one would call me back. I learned how to do stick-and-poke tattoos with a friend when I needed tangible evidence of time shared. I started programming video games and taking trapeze classes.
Suddenly, my dad died. I started questioning everything about my life. In contrast with an experience like that (along with staring the concept of impermanence in the face), almost every way I was spending my time seemed insufficient. I had never spoken much about wanting to travel until this time.
Travel was a huge part of my dad’s life, and it made me interesting by proxy. It kept my world large and provided me with a constant stream of information about the different places he was planning trips to. I honestly can’t remember a lot from that period of time, but I emerged from the experience with two lasting impressions: 1. If I want my world to stay large, I have to be the one to do it, and 2. Freakin’ A maybe it’s time to learn Spanish already.
Since that time I’ve successfully planned and executed a month long jaunt in Thailand, and I’m now anticipating a trip to Iceland. It’s been a few years since this paradigm shift, and I just don’t think that’s enough, so I’ll continue trying to keep my world large. I could kinda maybe possibly try a little harder with learning a second language too (maybe). I’ll keep at it with both goals, because no adventure was ever completed by taking one step. But that’s how they all started.
This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later,