Earlier this week, in a drunken, heterosexual shirtless conversation with some close friends, I revealed my intention to quit my job and fuck off to the other side of the world. One asked me: “Why do you need to leave the city? I get that you want out of your job, I get that you want to try something different. But why is it necessary to spend a shit ton of money and fly across the world, when you could just change your life here?”
We went on to talk about how I could work for a start-up, create my own business, go into sales, or just write full-time. Without flying to Kyrgyzstan or Zambia. Why is traveling such an integral part of my plan to re-evaluate my life?
There are a few answers to that question.
Starting with the obvious: I want to travel. Like most people, I want to see the world and all of its culture, art, architecture, history and people.
But I could easily do that from the comfort of a cubicle farm with my annual vacations. I’m spending the next few weeks travelling Northern Europe, for example, and I’m sure I’ll see and experience plenty. But I don’t want to do short-term, fly-in, snap pictures, fly-out cookie-cutter vacations. As I’ve written, I want to do more than visit cities. I want to arrive in cities and shop for an apartment, not a hostel. I want to buy one-way tickets.
Another reason: Landing in a foreign city with no friends, no job, no local knowledge, and no one telling me how to spend my time is scary. If I go out and do it in a bunch of different cities, it will become less so. So there’s another reason why long-term travel is important to me: There will be one less thing in the world that I’m scared of.
Most importantly though, I’ve decided that I need a major shock to my system. A man cannot sit in a cube all day, pretending he is working for thirty hours per week and pretending that the other ten aren’t spent on something ultimately meaningless, without the routine affecting his inner fire.
And that – although I hadn’t fully realized it until I typed out the words – is the fear that is inspiring this blog, and all of the steps that I’ve taken in my life in the past month or so. I can feel my fire going out. I felt myself losing the motivation to create, to learn, and experience. My reading habits shifted from knocking off the classics of literature, science, economics and philosophy one at a time, to reading failblog every day. I downgraded my fitness goals from being a a competitive athlete and an unstoppable killing machine, to looking decent with my shirt off. My guitar gathered dust as I went weeks without playing it. A prestigious, stable job started to look appealing, while my dream of writing for a living faded into the background as unfinished novels and book outlines lingered on my hard drive.
More times than I can count, I’ve slapped myself and said, OK: You’re finished school. You have some spare time. You’re twenty-five years old. If there will ever be a time to go out and get fucking rich and famous, it is NOW.
Then I diligently wrote out a list of my short and long term goals. Just like our guidance counselors told us to. The next day, I would continue my descent into mediocrity.
“If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results.”
Who said this? Google is no help. I’ll attribute it as a loose paraphrase of Einstein.
I am not happy with the results of my life, except for the great career, family, friends, girls, hobbies, health and youth… OK, it could be worse. But I want more. So I need to try something different. There are a million “different” things I could do, but quitting my job and leaving the continent for a year or more at a time seems like it’s the most different of the available options.
Off I go.