Today is my anniversary.
It’s been one year since I achieved ‘escape velocity’ and boarded a plane to leave the US.
I feel like the occasion should be marked with a juicy post about all I’ve learned and experienced. But when I try to write such a post, I’m overwhelmed. I could approach the topic from so many different angles, I don’t know where to begin.
It’s been an incredible journey. I think I’ll be traveling at least another year, maybe two if I can figure out how to get the money flowing in a little more steadily. I still don’t know how long I’ll continue. I only know that if I had to stop now, I’d be terribly disappointed. I’m not tired of my nomadic life, not even a little bit.
What have I learned? Too much to fit in a blog post. I’ve learned countless lessons about the world, about myself, about life in the US, about letting go. Here are just a few, in no particular order:
- Most people are kind and helpful. Everywhere.
- There is far less to be afraid of in the world than we ever imagined.
- I can handle most situations that might arise on the road (so could you)
- It’s hard at times to keep a sense of wonder and gratitude, on the road as well as at home, but it’s the most essential element of happiness.
- Humans tend to define ourselves by our posessions. Villagers wear specific hats and embroidery patterns to show their tribal and family identity. Americans shop for clothing, furniture, and collectibles to find an identity.
- Americans, outside of a few major cities, lead very isolated lives. Our cars and homes are prisons. People in the rest of the world mostly have places they can walk to, and people to laugh with when they get there.
- Television is the opiate of the masses (or something like that).
- Ultimately, we all go through life alone. But that’s OK.
- There are always beautiful things and ugly things to look at, or think about. You choose which to focus on, consciously or unconsciously, so might as well make the effort to choose joy.
- When you rid yourself of possessions — furniture, clothing, cookware, collections — you strip away identity, ego, and trappings of material success. The fear is that there will be nothing left.
- It’s essential to spend time alone, quiet, thinking. No TV, radio, cel phone, computer, chores, shopping. Try it for a day, or at least an afternoon, once in a while and see what happens. It’s insanely hard at first to be with your thoughts, but it’s incredibly empowering to become comfortable with them and see where they take you.
- We are always spiraling outward or spiraling inward. If you let your fears limit you, your spirit will shrink. If you push up against your fears and boundaries every day — find things that frighten you a little and do them anyway — your spirit will expand beyond your wildest imagination.