Descartes was riding on a plane when the stewardess came up and asked: "Would you like some more coffee, sir?" To which Descartes replied: "I think not." - And disappeared.
Have you ever felt tied down by that mortgage?
How about the choices you made? The town you've been living in for so long? The sheer quantity of things you own? Your family's and friends' expectations? Keeping up with books, being home for your favorite TV show, the photo albums you're supposed to make, cleaning, train schedules, doctors' appointments, e-mail, that broken widget you've been meaning to fix for 2 years, Christmas cards, warranty renewal deadlines, society's assumptions, your remote control, the latest must-see film, technology, catching up on the latest stuff, paying for another thing? Yeah? Me too. So I decided to leave.
I didn't know exactly how to do it, but neither did anyone else. So I sort of made it up. I approached this big question as I think I was supposed to approach life in the first place - as a game. An experiment that was going to be fun.
I still can't say I know how to do it, but I'm happier than I have been in a long time, so I'd say it seems to be going well so far. Part of the paradigm associated with the problem mentioned above is that in American society we value security - planning is good, and being able to ostensibly guarantee one's future is even better. This is not wrong, and has worked for me up until now.
I was quite happy, and comfortable, and it wasn't with the clash of some life-changing event that I decided otherwise. As I recall I just sort of eased into this new paradigm, and within only a few months I looked around and didn't feel very happy or comfortable at all. I decided that my possessions, my job, and my life all seemed to be in preparation for a planned future that I no longer wanted.
No problemo! The nice thing about the "security" I had surrounded myself with was that it was disposable. Sure I took a great financial loss, but money too, is disposable. I'm no hippie, but I sure can realize the value of life experience over life security.
So avoiding the trap (whether good, bad, or inconsequential) of planning too much, I decided to sell all my things and leave everything familiar behind with no plan beyond that. I started this website as a tool (much like E-Bay) through which I sold everything I owned. Almost immediately, it had gained the attention of many Americans as a befuddling, and intriguing experiment that went against the social grain. As I began to get press, more and more people were asking "what next"? Well, since part of the exercise was not to have a next step, I didn't have an answer. Needless to say, everyone and their brother had advise. From hiking the Appalachian Trail, to investing in real-estate, to starting my own business, to working for a NGO. By the end of my sale, one month later, I was a free man. I had never felt such freedom in my whole life. With no obligations, appointments, possessions, or bills, I walked out of my old apartment and finally thought "what next"?
With so much input over the previous month, I had a long list of offers and suggestions, but I felt strongly that whatever it was, it should entail travel. After thinking hard, the two final choices seemed to be the Appalachian Trail, or to move abroad. Well, I had sold all my expensive camping gear and it would be suicide to start the Appalachian Trail just before winter, so I was leaning towards moving abroad. The idea was exciting! A whole new culture, and language awaited me. Some place completely different. A new start. But where to?
I started doing feverish research on regions, countries, and cities of interest. I spent days, and then weeks couch surfing and living with family. Finally I realized I couldn't decide. There were so many places I hadn't been to. How could I make such a monumentous move with such a miniscule knowledge of the world? So the plan changed. I would have to see more of the world first. My research went on for another month as I glazed over the small mountain of "Round-The-World" travel guides, stories, and advice, and by January 2004, I was ready. I left for a likely 2 year journey round-the-world (RTW), calling it "Phase 2", following the mantra of the first phase, and only having 3 rules I had to follow:
Rule 1 - I can only bring what I can fit in a small book bag
(roughly the volume of 1/2 a pillow)
And so this website revamped itself into both a record of Phase 1, and an up-to-date travel log/album so that I can keep old friends informed of my travels, and inform new friends of who I was and where I started. The added benefit is that I too can be reminded of my journey on those lonely stretches.
Now ithinknot.us will grow many more times during my travels to allow for more photos, as well as an interactive world map of where I was, am, and will be. Please come back to see what's new, and offer any advice on traveling you might have. Much appreciated!
For fascinating articles on one Harvard psychologists studies on happiness, click here, or here.