Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Flaming Disaster Isn't The Worst That Can Happen

Sometimes we go through life and we really don't pay it much attention. You go to work, you eat meals, chat with friends, complain about that pebble in your shoe. Once in a while you do some things that really make you realize how little opportunity there is to get out there and really take part in life, you do have a finite number of years after all. Sometimes when we don't pay attention you end up just pissing precious time away.

I spent my 25th birthday sailing down the Nile River on a boat with a bunch of people from around the world that prior to that ride I had never met. We were getting toward the end of a ten month trip that Kim and had spent travelling around the world. Our past travels had brought us through the south pacific, over NZ and OZ over through Indonesia and up the Thai Peninsula, over to Nepal down through India and over to Egypt. After my birthday we would go on to Jordan, Turkey and Greece, and after a brief stint in the states we would spend over three weeks in Peru. Ever since this trip I have without pause listed it as the best thing I ever did with my life.

After that we tried the whole settling down thing. More though, I got back into some of my worst habits, and instead of taking what I had learned and applying it to my life I just went back and melted into society. Now I did go back to school and get a piece of paper that says I'm qualified to do some things that I learned outside of that school. I did learn some useful skills and I also got to work on some interesting projects at the jobs I had. These things were great for getting by, but I was definitely working for my off time. My employers were also generous by US standards allowing me to go on trips for up to a month and were always flexible with me. The foundations of the past make what you are doing now possible, so I won't say I was pissing my life away, I will however say that I wasn't focussed on what it was I really wanted to accomplish with the time I had.

I think maybe it was in Turkey last year that something long dormant in me kind of clicked. I had just turned 32. I am sure I will be writing a post on 33 as it is significant to me, so I won't steal too much of that posts thunder, but both Jesus and Alexander the Great died within those years. Why does that matter? Because you realize in a very real sense when you stumble on stones near the Granikus River, or stomp on the same grounds as the apostles that you haven't made good use of your time. One of these guys was about to conquer the known world at my age, another was through his teachings about to influence Western thought for a couple thousand years. While I had no ambition to do either, it made me reflective enough to see that I had lost focus of directing myself where I wanted to go.

So why the hell am I writing this and what does it have to do with Kathmandu? Because for the first time since I was twenty five I can say that what I am doing now is the best thing I have ever done. Sure it wasn't a conventional thing to do, pick up and move to a developing country on the other side of the planet, but it was definitely the right thing to do. Maybe I could have done many of the things I'm doing here, back home, but to be honest I don't think so. The climate is great, the people I've met are interesting, the access to trekking is unmatched. This is only the superficial stuff.

The best part is that I'm finally focused on what I want to do in life. I've actually sat down and started writing, and though sometimes it is easier than others, I'm actually getting stuff written. I'm in the process of owning and operating a couple different companies, I've always wanted to be my own boss. In some ways it's a little disconcerting, we are in a foreign place, with only a trickle of income and some businesses that could possibly fail to make any money. I am however 100% fearless right now, because I know I've already avoided the worst. This could all be a flaming disaster and maybe I end up in a cave asking tourists for one ruppee or one chocolate. That is an easier fate, than looking back and saying, "what if?" Having lived out my days safely never having took a chance and always looking back at when I was 25 as the best part of my life. F that.

You want to know what happiness is? It's having the courage to live your life the way it was meant to be lived. That responsibility is to each their own.

The conventional view of failure looses all of its sting when you can look squarely at what that failure is and be happier than the alternative of not doing anything. A life un-lived is real failure.


  1. Hey Brian! What a wonderfully written piece! I've been contemplating some of the same issues lately. I quit my job the end of Feb. so Susanne and I could travel for the month of March to Spain, Italy, up to Venice, Prague, and then Sweden to see her family. We both feel that "lifes too short" to procrastinate about doing things we want to do. We rediscovered Florence where we met 30 years ago. There was a trattoria there that we frequented then almost daily for our dinner as it was cheap and friendly. We wondered over to the neighborhood where we remembered it to be and went into a place that we thought might be the same, although it was on the corner, not further down as we recalled. When we ate there 30 years ago it was a man with his pregnant wife who served us and he had a young son about 2 running around the place. So we sat down and when the man came over to verbally tell us the menu in English it became a deja vu moment. His body language and voice told us it was the same man although he seemed older to us back 30 years ago and then we realized we were 24 and 28 and he was probably about 30 himself. Anyway to make a long story short he still didn't speak any English except for the menu but there was a women there who we assumed was his daughter and a young man who we assumed was his son. The women spoke English and we told her we used to eat at a little trattoria down the street and she said her parents used to have a place there but moved to the new location. We knew then that she was the baby in her mothers womb and the young man was the 2 year old running around as we ate, in love, in Florence. It was a special moment...... Anyway just wanted to share that. I've been looking for local truck driving work in Portland but to haven't had much luck so I'm going long haul again with the same company as before. Our next trip is St John USVI for my 60th next March. There is a eco-camping place there called Maho Bay which we loved 3 years ago and want to return to with Joel and Leo. All the best. Keep up the great writting. John

  2. Brian -

    I'll be thinking of you while I am sitting at my desk today. My big adventure will be deciding whether to take the turnpike home or the back roads...... (sigh)


  3. Thanks John. Florence is a really great place, I hope Kim and I can back there some time too. Best of luck to you.

    Scot- The back roads are always an adventure in Maine!


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