Life is a roller coaster of gut feelings and challenges. Waves of fear and excitement shakes our bodies and the more we fight the ride – the more uncomfortable it gets. We’re constantly trying to do what we think is in our best interests. Our heads can fill with doubt… Doubt in ourselves, doubt in our morals, doubt about the outcomes of our lives… When that happens we act against our gut feelings. We stop being us and it doesn’t matter how it happens whether it be outside forces or the voice inside who is constantly on the other side of the constant argument we’re having with ourselves. You know it; the voice that says you aren’t good enough. The voice that loves to advise a person to stop their heart’s plan dead in it’s tracks. It’s a pretty loud voice but more times than not it’s extremely important to tell that voice to shut the fuck up…
In my high school years there would always be people telling me they should have traveled before they went to college or taken time off to see the world before they were struck with the weight of responsibility holding them down. Life always tends to “catch up” and take over. People forget it’s all on them. It’s all on US. We’re the hero of our own epic tale and WE decide what we do and when we do it. Stop making excuses to stop doing what your heart wants you to do. Life is about balance and that includes balancing the influences of our head and our heart.
I started hiking at a young age when I moved to a community that had more forest than houses. When you’re young - exploration is a need. We go on long walks, get lost, run away… We want new experience, sights, colors, feelings – we’re practically addicted. Acting on this need strikes fulfillment deep within us but over time the potency of these experiences can diminish because it’s just the “same old thing.” As soon as I was able physically able to I began doing big hikes. My heart had a desire to see more and I was sure to listen to it. I wanted to see mountain ranges, views from the tops of mountains. More and more world! Please!
The real fun began when I started college at a university that was only a two hour drive from my home. It’s interesting but even that short distance makes the world seem so small. Things become that much more within reach. The universe sends a wave, an open window to gain confidence.
Traveling across the country taught me that we're all human. Yeah - sounds pretty obvious, i know. "Of course we're all human, Chris!" But, we all know that arrogant voice inside our heads that tells us we're different or better than other. We make judgements. Seeing all these people and interacting with them really shows you that we all just want the same things. We want to be happy. We want to interact with each other. We desire relationships and come together in time of need. NEED. We're all just trying to satisfy basic instinctual needs.
My need was to explore. My need was to make a big change in my life that I KNEW would be difficult. I wanted to grow, and to satisfy the needs I was harboring, i drove my car across the country and moved to Los Angeles, California. When you can leave you create the courage to leave everything you rely on behind you. You leave your support groups (family, friends, girlfriend, etc.), a source of stable income, the feeling of familiarity with your surrounding... It's scary and exciting and it boosts change.
My college roommate came for the journey and escorted me across Rte. 40. Sean, my college roommate and one of my absolute best friends, was a wonderful addition to my trip. Except when he drove the wrong direction for over 2 hours and may have very well been the spark that lead my windshield to crack... Twice. But the bond you build with a person after spending days in a car with them is truly amazing. You learn about each other and talk through each other's biggest, most random, thoughts. Most of the people I consider myself closest to have gone on road trips with me.
Traveling, leaving, moving; it made me even more grateful for the free things in this world. I've never paid money for true love, and we'll never have to pay money for real friends. The bonds we create with the people we keep around ourselves is the most important thing and it's FREE.
I would advise anyone to travel. I would advise everyone to move to a new place even if it's only for a year. Take risks! The amount of confidence I built after always being able to find a source of income any where I move to was unreal. I can confidently say that "I will never be homeless, I will always find a way to sustain my living, I can be on my own..." I learned to enjoy being alone, at peace with myself, COMFORTABLE with ME. Comfortable with doing something uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than being at an Arkansas bath house... Trust me I would know.
The best advice I ever received was to "live life always questioning how the 80 year old version of you would feel about the decision you're about to make." Do you think 80 year old 'you' gives a fuck? Do you think 80 year old Chris cares? No way! Older 'you' wants you to have crazy experiences and live a powerful life! This is the best advice I could give; just go for it. Whatever it is just go and see what happens! Run out of gas, fall down, get your heartbroken, put yourself out there and FEEL life happen. Jam pack the short amount of time we get on this planet with beautiful and disastrous experiences.