When I was 19 I traveled across the country to visit a friend. It was the first time in my life that I had ventured outside of my small East Coast bubble. I explored Seattle, wide-eyed and astonished at how big the world was. My horizon had broadened and I was a changed man. That little bubble had ballooned out to the size of the United States. I soon took other trips around this great country, weekend long trips through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and two sweeping cross-country drives. But, despite those trips, my bubble has remained the same size for the past 17 years. For some reason I ceased to push myself; to travel farther, to wonder what lies further out, to explore beyond my bubble.
I had an epiphany a few months back while staring at pictures from beautiful, wondrous, remote places that I've never been to. I starting cursing myself for not taking a certain trip when I was 20: One year wandering around Europe and neighboring areas - I almost went but I abandoned the idea. I let life get in the way of living. And as I was cursing my younger self, a voice shouted out in the back of my head. It was the voice of me at 55 cursing myself now at the age of 36 for not taking the leap. I froze. My whole perspective shifted. I have the power to change the past… at least the one that hasn't happened yet. This is a rare opportunity.
I always had an excuse; I have to work, I don't have the money, I can't just leave everything. But that's all they were - excuses. If you truly want to do something there is always a way to do it, it's just a matter of how much you are willing to sacrifice. So I made up my mind, I'm doing this, no matter what.
But how can I travel around Europe for a year, possibly longer? I devised a plan.
I need to rent my house out. My mortgage will be taken care of and I'll still have a house to come back to (If I come back). However, that's about all I'm hanging on to.
I only need the basics; a few sets of clothing, a camera, a laptop, and a pack to carry these items in. Everything else I'm selling. It will help finance the trip, sure, but I discovered an added bonus. I felt lighter, freer, calmer at the thought of having less possessions. I own so much crap. Crap that is weighing me down. These possessions own me instead of the other way around. It was tough at first, always thinking "Oh, but I might need that someday...", but once I got over that knee-jerk reaction I found a joy at the thought of having less "stuff". Deep down inside me a minimalist has always resided.
The camera and laptop I keep only because they are tools needed to work. I plan on editing remotely for some of my clients despite being halfway around the world. This is a luxury of the digital age - one that did not exist when I was 20. Also I hope to gather plenty of stock footage which in time may bring some income as well. Who knows, maybe eventually the travel will become self-sustaining.
So the plane tickets are purchased. June 4th I embark on my next adventure. I'm itching to get on my way, anxious to see if I can do it, and eager to see what the world has to offer. My hope is this trip will make me a better filmmaker, a better photographer, a better writer, but most importantly, a better person. I have never left the country before. I'm almost ashamed to admit that. I only speak one language - again I'm rather ashamed to say that when so much of the world is bi-lingual at least. I am teaching myself french and I hope to get the opportunity for some real world practice in France and Morocco as well as pick up bits and pieces of other languages along the way. I want to see how other cultures live, how they eat and commune. It's time I expanded my bubble again.
The goal: One year, wandering, relying on the kindness of strangers, eating great local dishes, cooking my own specialties for new friends, struggling to communicate, rejoicing at the little victories, and figuring things out as I go along. We'll see if I can make it...
(I will be blogging regularly so you can follow my adventures, exploits, and blunders through this site. I hope that this page becomes a way for me to interact with friends and family, to get advice about places I'm heading to, sites to check out, things not to miss, etc. So please do not hesitate to use the comment section below)