Update

So, my last post that I had here, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…was about my trip to Iceland in March of 2016 where I hitchhiked the Ring Road. The last post was only a summary of day one and I was there for 11 days, that meant I had set myself up to write another 10 posts summarizing the rest of the trip; that’s a lot.

Believe me, I have no problem writing about the trip, in fact I love it. It’s been about 16 months since it happened, and it’s still fresh in my mind. But, as someone who was balancing two jobs working about 70 hours a week to pay for the next trip, time was not a luxury I had. Simply put, it wasn’t feasible for me to write that much, or even be able to. So, like many things, it got put on the back burner and never made it to fruition.

Now why did that happen, here’s why. The last 6-8 months or so have been pretty much a shit show to say the least. As some of you who know me personally, I was supposed to be headed out to Colorado the first of October for the winter to ski, followed by a road trip around the western US, Canada, and up to Alaska in a Volkswagen Vanagon that I got. #VanLife

So, October comes around and the Van needs more work than I planned on. Start really working on the van only to find out it has a blown head gasket and I need to rebuild the motor as well as a number of other things. Over the next couple months, me and my uncle fix up the van, more so him teaching me how to go about fixing it and giving me the knowledge to do so. (Thanks again for all the help and teaching.) That took more time and money than expected, so there’s the first big setback that I had.

At the time, I’d only been working my one job at a motorcycle shop since I was under the assumption I’d be leaving soon anyways. Well, once the van needed to be fixed back up, I knew I needed to get that second job to recuperate some of the losses, so that’s what I did. Started working two jobs again around mid-November and everything was going well for about a month or so. Mid-December rolls around and we get notified that the motorcycle shop is closing down. It wasn’t too bad since we were getting a severance package. Couple weeks go by though and I get sent home thanks to being screwed over by my team lead. There goes the severance package and three weeks of pay and there you have setback number two.

At this point I realized that Colorado was most likely not going to happen and for the second time I would postpone my road trip. Started debating what I wanted to do next and decided on hiking the PCT. It was something I had talked about doing before and seemed like a good idea. Got all my gear together, had all my transportation set up, I was good to go just waiting to get my hiking permit once they opened on January 24th and 35 permits per day became available. But, on January 19th I tweaked my back at work. Didn’t think it was too bad, maybe a strained back or something so took it easy over the weekend. Well, it hadn’t gotten better and I was having shooting nerve pain in my left leg and I knew something was up. Went to see a doctor on Monday and she thought it might be just a back strain, so she prescribed some oral steroids, I on the other hand was not too confident in her diagnosis.

Tuesday rolls around and it’s time to get PCT permits. Go to fill out my application for the first or second week of April, arguably the best time to go if headed northbound, but the site was overloaded and for about an hour and a half I sat there trying to put in my application, but nobodies would go through. Well, I had to leave the house for about an hour, and immediately once I got home, I scrambled to my computer to try again. Open up the site, and SHIT, all the days in April are taken, the whole first week of May is taken as well as the last week of March. I didn’t want to start too early as it was looking to be a high snow year in the Sierra Nevadas, so I put in my application for May 10th as I figured I’d be more than able to quicken my pace in order to not be stuck in Washington once the snow started. Still had it in my mind that my back would be healed and I’d be ready to go.

Week goes on and I take the steroids for the week but they didn’t help a bit, the pain was still progressively getting worse. Saw the doctor again that Monday and she still thinks it’s nothing major, but prescribes two weeks of Physical Therapy to see if that helps. I’m sitting there thinking why not an MRI scan, but I go along with the PT order. The next couple weeks go past and nothing is getting any better. The doctor then decides that she’s not too sure what’s wrong so she refers me to a pain management doctor and that doctor orders an MRI scan, finally someone who doesn’t waste time. A week goes by and see the doctor again with my MRI results and found out I have two herniated discs in my lower back; not good. This is the point I realized the PCT is not going to happen either. On April 17th I had a microdisectomy spinal surgery to repair the herniated discs and for the last three months I’ve basically just been recovering from that trying to get back to 100% so I can finally go on another trip. And that was my biggest setback.

I don’t write any of this looking for sympathy or anything. It is simply a fact of my life and the root causes as to why I haven’t been active here, nor really anywhere else for that matter. I’ll have to quote Paulo Coelho again as he has a couple quotes that speak volumes to exactly what I’m going through. “There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.” “Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all, or by having everything happen at once.” And it’s absolutely true. I’m not frustrated, angry, sad, or resentful to anything that has set me back, if anything, I’m most likely grateful. It gave me lots of time to think about things, ponder what I really want, and the fact is, is that a lot of people would have had this happen to them and just give up thinking that it wasn’t meant to be. In my eyes, going through this, and realizing that I still want to do all this stuff really solidifies it in my mind and is almost inspiring. By no means am I saying this is the worst thing in the world, it’s not. There are millions of people out there doing way worse than me, both physically and mentally, and I understand that very well.

What’s next? The tentative plan, assuming I continue to get back to 100%, is to take a two-month trip overseas to hike some places I’ve wanted to go for a while and from there start taking trips more frequently. Should be going to Iceland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, India, Nepal, and possibly Australia as well. That’s at least the plan.  The site should also be getting updated more often as well as making a final summary of hitchhiking Iceland in a post in the next day or so. If you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you, it means a lot. J

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Thoughts

What are we doing here on Earth? That is one of the most quintessential questions toyed around with in the human mind. It usually accompanies the question of, “What happens after I die?” Or something of that sort. The greatest fantasy of what it would be like to sleep and never wake up. One usually proceeds to play through their future in their mind: what they envision life to be like for them over the course of the remaining years, what they would like to accomplish before their time is up, and mainly how the two differentiate and what one can do to change their course so that they can accomplish their dreams. The other side, when one envisions their past and everything they’ve done, or perhaps, haven’t done.

Kids are brilliant at fantasizing about their future and what life would be like after death. They are so innocent and oblivious to the standards and expectations set forth for the people. Their goals contain no ceilings or limits. They aren’t concerned with what everyone else is doing, what people would think of them if they do one thing, or how they are going to make money doing that thing. None of that is important to the young fantasizing mind. All that matters to them, is doing what they would genuinely like to do in their future. The odd thing however, they are sublimely happy while money has no bearing. At some point, we, as humans, specifically Americans, lose our sense of imagination and dreaming. As kids and young adults, we know what we like and what makes us happy, yet we are told that our expectation here on Earth is to go out, get a good education, that will get us a good job, that will have good pay, so that we can buy all the things we want, and somehow, that will provide us happiness. But what happened to our goals and dreams we had, not too long ago, as kids? Do those things not mean anything anymore? So why do we buy into this idea?

Then it gets you thinking. What if money weren’t in the equation? You start to have the same thought process you had as a child and what you were to do that really made you happy. What would you do that you really enjoyed? I believe that is what you should do. Don’t worry about the money. Alan Watts does a brilliant job at discussing this, “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.”

We are all taught at some point in our life, that we can’t do what we love and have a passion for, as a career. I don’t think that is a good way to live your life. If you have something you really love and enjoy, you should pursue that and actually have fun in life. After all, you’re only on this Earth for a short period of time. We are forced to go to school for roughly the first 18 years of our lives and after that, school for another four years until we’re 22. After we graduate from college, it’s the standard to start your career where you’ll work until you’re roughly 60-65 years old. That’s nearly three quarters of the average American life expectancy spent doing something the majority of people don’t like doing. That is ridiculous to think about. Our “prime” years are roughly between the ages of 20-40, yet we decide to spend our best physical ages towards our career. We work all that time to save up money in a retirement fund that we can use after we retire, to do what we please with and to really live our lives. How does that logic make sense though? Working away the best years of our lives and pausing our goals and dreams to be able to have the freedom to do what we please once we retire around the age of 60 when our bodies aren’t the same physically as when we wasted away our time working. I’d much rather have the freedom to what I please and what I love during my prime years, than to wait until I was older to be able to achieve them. We are never guaranteed time. I might not live until retirement age. If I were to put off my dreams and goals thinking that I could achieve them after I retire, only to not live until I retire, what would the purpose or fulfillment of my life be? I would have simply lived my life towards the idea that money was the only way to achieve my dreams. That is simply not true.

As Alan Watts said, if you really like doing something, and you put enough time and work into it, you can eventually become a master. And with becoming a master, you can now sell your trade, what your so good at, your dream, your passion, to others that are interested in that as well. Wouldn’t that much more fulfilling than working a job you didn’t necessarily like in order to maybe one day pursue your dreams? That sounds like a much better plan.

I’ll paraphrase what Paulo Coelho, a Spanish writer and thinker, says in his most famous book, The Alchemist, about this idea. He discusses the idea that everyone has, what is called, a Personal Legend. A personal legend is basically the purpose of your life, and what you should do. The story starts off with a boy who was a shepherd. As the boy is travelling from market to market, he encounters a king who says he will find great treasure by the pyramids in Egypt. The story then goes on the journey of the boy as he decides to seek out his personal legend of finding his treasure in Egypt. He pitches the idea that it is the heart that wants to pursue your dreams rather than the mind. The heart will talk to you and give you help towards your dream and that is what makes you happy. However, the more and more you ignore the heart and your dreams, the heart stops talking to you and reminding you of your dreams, until there is no more hope towards accomplishing them. “Because wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.” He also ponders the idea that the universe is all around you to help you fulfill your dreams. “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize their dreams. In fact, life is generous to he who lives out his personal legend.”  It is really interesting to think about the idea that if we really go out and pursue our dreams, we won’t be completely alone on the whole journey.

If more people were to truly pursue their dreams and live out their personal legend, the world would be a much happier place. The question of what am I doing with my life would be an easy answer and life would be much more fulfilling. You might not be all that financially successful, but that doesn’t matter, as long as to you, you’re doing what you love, you’ll be successful and fulfilled in your own life.