01 February 2012

It all started with a party hat... and a blip.

Oktoberfest 2011

What is the most resilient parasite?  Bacteria?  A virus?  An intestinal worm?  An idea.  Resilient... highly contagious.  Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it's almost impossible to eradicate.  An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right there somewhere.

- Dom Cobb, 'Inception'

So, you may be wondering when (and why!) did I get this crazy idea to travel around the world for a while. I had a great career going for me, my life was well established in LA, I had (HAVE) a good life… so why put it on hold instead of keeping the momentum going? Well, it all started after a little three-week backpacking trip to Europe in September... and this party hat.

During my trip, I kept meeting all these Aussies that were traveling for 6+ months. I kept asking them, "How do you do this???  It's so UN-American.  Did you have to quit your job (and they do, but it's perfectly normal for them to)? And how much money did you have to save to do this?". They all have similar answers -- but I had to figure out how I was going to do this for myself.  While obsessing about this idea while traveling, a friend of mine brought up a good point, if you don't do it when you graduate school or retire, then you only take one 2-3 week trip a year during your prime years to travel... not exactly a good amount of time to make an impact, create big change in your life or become a part of the culture.

When I got back, I couldn't get my trip off of my mind. I kept wondering, how do I get back and really do this how I'd like to do this?   Somehow, the universe was listening and responded back.  LOUDLY.  Too many signs to possibly ignore.  People, ideas, other travelers, kept crossing my path that were oddly coincidental.  And when I finally came to terms that I was going to live a different life than what I and what others may have expected of me, it all became so easy.  The path laid itself in front of me and I have a feeling that this is going to be a game changer and affect my life in some unpredictable and enriching ways.

Three quotes inspired me when I was struggling to make a decision to do this.  First is this quote from the Dalai Lama on what surprises him most and his response was:
"Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived."
Second, Steve Jobs died around then and all of the media was covering his life achievements and how he inspired the world and inspired me.  While I did not know him personally, his death got me thinking about the big picture of what life is and how to live life as big as possible because you never know when your time will come.  Two of my favorite quotes of his are from his commencement address at Stanford after he had been diagnosed with cancer:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.  ...Stay hungry.  Stay foolish."

I want to look back on my life and say, "I did do all these things.  I have seen this.  I have had my mind open to all these different places, ideas, people, and this is what I learned about life and this is how I'm going to share it.".  Somewhere along the ride, I hope to come out with a deeper understanding of the universe… even if I'm just a blip on Universe's radar.  Be a blip.  Perhaps that's my new motto.  
Be a blip.


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