A few years ago now I went to a Henry Rollins talk. He’s notorious for hating the world, but I think that’s just a misconception based on what a man once was. Anyways, he made a beautiful point about the difference between a vacation and a journey that I’ve greatly appreciated and heavily felt ever since.
He explained his confusion as to why some people in the world choose to live such a hard life that they feel the need to vacate it and go to a far off foreign land, getting fat sitting in the sun acquiring skin cancer while lathering on their bodies toxic chemicals, and ordering less-then-minimum-wage pool boys to bring them toxic sugary drinks with a tiny umbrella in it, and eating food that’s going to give them a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge – all the while smiling.
Vacate | life = vacation.
But a journey, now that’s what I think life is about. When I go somewhere I want to do so much exploring I have to leave my shoes at the corner because I’ve blown right through them and covered them with so much mud with all the adventuring I’ve done.
I like to journey.
A few years ago I contacted a lifestyle photographer who seemed to have his portfolio chalked full of adventure. I asked him if he could offer any suggestions on how he got such adventure into his life. He simply responded that whenever you’re given the chance to go on an adventure, say yes.
Since then, I’ve been saying yes.
In 2012 when I was accepted to do thin film solar cell research in Darmstadt, Germany, I believe I really began saying yes. This also marked the completion of my undergraduate degree. I remember my advice to people I came across while traveling through Europe was to say: “Yes”. And enthusiastically saying YES. I still give this advice from time to time.
Yes took me in a car share from London under the tunnel to Brussels via France where I stayed for free with a new friend I had met only a few nights before while Coach Surfing, instead of to Amsterdam where I had planned. Much fun was had, and a friendship that still lasts.
Yes took me to Köln with three of my new International friends who I ernestly gave sage advice to always wear a condom. I believe there was also a mixup and I had booked the hotel we were staying at for the next week. Non-the-less, we took that town for all it was worth because we were on a journey. One of these friends had friends there who we joined in watching Germany at an outdoor screening of one of their final games enroute to winning the World Cup. Have you ever seen the Germans and their football pride? Did you know in Germany you can drink in public?
Yes took me to Riga where I was introduced to nationally respected historians who enriched my own cultural knowledge of my family’s past, and a dog named Elfa won my heart.
Yes took me to Maui where I ate, breathed, stretched, walked barefoot, and opened my heart to my new ohana in a month long Yoga Teacher Training immersion.
I believe that this journey is accepting that change is inevitable. If I were to prescribe to the vacation, I believe I’d be tricking myself into thinking the vacation is a reward for all the resistance to change I’ve been upholding so valiantly.
Looking at life as a journey has changed me. I’ve realized there is no escape. This is it. This is life. Today is what I’m living. Sure, I can fantasize about some date far into the future that promises all the bliss I’ve always wanted with a simple click of that “book now” button, but I like the idea of booking in now.
This is me, and this is my journey.