I traveled over 13,000 miles in 27 days throughout the later half of October into the beginning of November. It all started as a flight from Oregon to Mexico and from there, I traveled north through the state of California by the intrepid railroad before flying to lovely city of Chicago. From there, Wisconsin back to Oregon, and then finally over to Colorado. Deep breaths. Tired feet. Becoming really good at sleeping nearly anywhere.
I learned something with each mile, it seems. For those four weeks, my environment changed everyday. Routine was not an option. What was consistent in my journey was meeting new people and hearing their stories of joy and pain. What I experienced through people and the different environments are stories I will tell until my joints are stiff and I’m (still) too stubborn to stay inside all day. Below are some pictures from my trip.
Thoughts from Oregon: We’re still the same humans from many moons ago, and we all can list a bunch of old proverbs and wives tales that impart some true, deep wisdom, but throughout my life, experience has always been the greatest teacher. So, I stood at the top of this little outcropping for a while letting my adventures sink in. There was something special about looking the cloudline right in the eyes.
A memory: After our hike, we ended up eating that really hearty, hits-the-spot kind of chili, and we camped in the rain.
Thoughts from Mexico: Our experiences of seeing more of the world often times helps us become more empathetic to people both near and far. Because along the way, we realize things are harder than we thought – for everyone. When we travel, we’re more aware than ever that things are not in our control, and they rarely go the way we want them to. But traveling is still worth it. In life, it works the same way — life rarely goes the way we want it to. But life is always worth it.
A memory: Talking with Miguel on my drive to and from the orphanages where he gives a majority of his life away in being an advocate for the orphans who live there. Miguel has lived in Mexico for over 15 years, so he knows the good and bad parts of town and where the best taco stands are. He’s lived a good life, ya know? The kind where his laugh lines are deep, but you can still see the weight of the world in his eyes.
Thoughts from California: We can get so caught up in our heads about what we’re doing or where we’re going next that we forget where we stand now. We don’t take notes about what learned today. Well, I want to take notes. Our hair shouldn’t be messy from anxiousness and erratic sleep patterns, but because we just danced so hard in celebration of others. I think our biggest fears should not be of failure, but rather succeeding at things that don’t really matter.
A memory: Watching the sunset over the ocean on my train ride from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo.
Thoughts from Wisconsin: Something we learn over and again throughout our days is that life doesn’t wait for us. There is an Austrian nurse named Bronnie Ware who cares for people in the last few weeks of their lives, and she records their most often expressed regrets. The most common is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” I want to be that old man on a porch at sunset tired from the life I lived, not tired because of the life I didn’t. I’m still learning what this means.
A memory: Seeing the old wood shop tools reminded me of my grandpa who crafted all of his grandchildren cradles when they were born.
Stay focused. Work hard. Grab your backpack and get going! Stay with people for a little while and get ready to ask the questions you wish you were being asked. Get ready to miss home and wonder if you’ll ever be able to find it again. Get ready to take notes and be willing to share the truth your experiences have taught you. There will be days in our lives where we are afraid, sad, and lost. But the world will undoubtedly be a better place if we were to focus on being interested in others rather than just being interesting to others. You’re already incredibly interesting, did you know?