#12 — And Then Life Changes
Apparently riding alone from America to Patagonia on a motorcycle wasn’t hard enough. I recently accepted a part-time, remote job, I’ve decided to put video creation (previously taking up 20–30 hours a week) on the back burner for a while, and somehow I am even more confident and committed to finishing this ride to Patagonia.
When I arrived in Panama and began the process of getting the bike across the Darien Gap to Colombia to continue this motorcycle journey, I had to make a choice: to ride like hell to the southern tip of Argentina as soon as I arrived in Colombia (in order to make it before winter hit down there). Or, to ride like a changed man taking weeks to travel what I previously would have traveled in mere days (in order to wait out the winter).
I decided to slow down and smell some roses.
Upon arriving in Panama and during the process of getting to Colombia, I entered a month of dark, depressive moods and an outlook on life that wasn’t so sexy.
This caused me to re-think many things in my life, my motives, explicit reasons for doing what I do, for spending my time and money how I spend them, why I am alone and continue to push myself down a path that is anything but normal and continues to leave me alone in this life.
It was a hard period (as can be glimpsed thru some of my articles/podcasts during that period. See “Not a Cry for Help” and “Colombia at Last”).
Through times of difficulty, the culmination of many good or bad decisions can come to a head either producing a better you or, alternatively, a you that finds yourself more stuck than you were before.
I feel different.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, folks. I think I am becoming a better man en estos dias (these days).
I write almost every day. Just a page at minimum in my notebook to lay out my thoughts and feelings. If you were to read the pages scribbled out from various cafes and restaurants across northern and central Colombia over the last few weeks, you would see, with frequency, a young man coming to surprising realizations.
“For the first time in my life, I feel a growing, albeit small and still developing, sense of control over the emotions that otherwise would normally drown me in their darkness without hope.”
“I can make the decision I made today with more confidence than I ever would have before. Something is changing in my life and I think it may be a product of many, many previous decisions and months of life culminating in positive changes produced more rapidly as a product of the strangeness, stress, and raw nature of this journey I am on.”
“Wow, there are so many beautiful women in Colombia.”
Ok, admittedly some entries in my notebook are less profound than others but there are a lot of beautiful women in Colombia… I stand by that one.
Growing so slowly you barely notice until the day your toes hang off the bed.
For those of you who are also tall, you know of what toe-hanging sensation I speak. Terribly inconvenient.
But you didn’t arrive at the grand place of sleeping diagonally or leaving your toes to hang over the course of a few days. You spent many imperceptibly small moments and months growing bit by bit until you reached this great status of a true giant.
In the same way, I think I am finally reaping benefits from years of slow growth. Both physical, chemical, and developmental growth (I think my frontal lobe only just finished developing) as well as experiential accumulation (life happening) and value-based rewards.
Am I old yet?
As time passes, I continue my walk around the block thereby drawing closer and closer to the revered, often grey-haired status of having been around the block a few times.
As time passes and life continues to happen, we grow. We change. We grow roots in various ways and in various things. We begin to both see life differently as a product of what we have already seen, we live life differently as a product of the values we have either formed ourselves or taken on from those we look up to.
As time passes, it doesn’t just disappear behind us (no matter how much we occasionally might wish it would), it accumulates in the form of decisions made or not made, things seen or not seen, moments lived and forgotten but still added to the collection of moments that comprise who you are today.
My moments have accumulated to a place where I am beginning to see and feel the difference in who I was and who I seem to be becoming.
13,000km of road noise.
I have had a lot of time to think over the last two continents (I just like to say that, shameless brag), 9 countries, and nearly 13,000km of open road.
Life has happened to me, I have happened to life, and then life has turned around and happened to me again when I got too cocky (sorry, life. I’ll strive for more humility).
In all of that happening,
- I have begun to practice meditation (the practice of realizing my status quo is to be my thoughts, thoughts over which, after some practice, one can realize we have absolutely no control).
- I have remained true to some core values like honesty, curiosity, the willingness to at least try, to fight to kill the impulse to make decisions according to fear, and the hope that I have it in me to follow the saying “strong beliefs, loosely held.”
- and I have continued making decisions even when I am uncertain of my direction because I would rather make a decision than sit wallowing in my (impressively) unceasing uncertainty.
You’re going to do what…?
I am going to try balancing a part-time job while also finishing the 10,000–15,000 kilometers that still lay between me and the southern tip of Argentina, my goal.
I am going to put my love and long history of creating videos on the backburner, occasionally still making videos and shooting but with far less time devoted to the effort.
And I am going to see if I can carve out a lifestyle and skill set in this new job that both challenge me and open doors for future directions in my ceaselessly strange life.
What ‘s next?
Well, I am not sure.
The truth is I think after a break from the job-like aspect of creating videos that I have been imposing upon myself (every video typically takes 20–30 hours for me to shoot, edit, and publish), I will return to creating with more freedom, creativity, and less of a sense of work attached to something I truly do love (creating).
I will still write and create podcast episodes with regularity.
I still intend to continue to figure out ways to live this strange life (Next up, riding a motorcycle across the Trans American Trail next summer?) and I still envision myself creating while doing whatever adventure next awaits me.
So, here’s to rolling with the punches and dancing in the rain that life never stops sending our way.