What Is This So Called Life
If you're reading this on my blog then it means I'm alive. That is unless you do a Google search 100 years from now for some of the following keywords: "blog, mello yellow t-shirt, boxers, nipple, coyote, hocking hills, boondocks, alive, booty" (you now also know my keywords, plus some of the things this post is about. Yes, we will be talking about under garments). That's also assuming that they don't find technology that let's me increase my lifespan by 100 years. So, you're probably wondering what I'm doing and why I'm writing about coyotes and mello yellow t-shirts and what they have to do with boxers. I tried whitey tighties for years, much to my dismay, and the day I found out about boxers...well it was like Christmas; except that it really was Christmas, seriously.
So what am I doing? Well I'm sitting on the back porch of a cottage in a rocking chair in the boondocks of Hocking Hills, Ohio, drinking a cup of hot tea. And that's where the coyotes come in. I heard one a few minutes ago. However, I'm not too worried about the coyotes, since I'm sitting on an elevated, enclosed porch. However, a loose serial killer in the area would have no problem disposing of me without anyone ever knowing. I've looked in every direction and I'm pretty sure my cottage is the only light I see on the side of the mountain and I haven't heard a car for the hour that I've been outside.
Nonetheless, this has been a breath of fresh air, coming off a three week visit in New York City. With no Internet access, cell phone coverage and TV, it's given me a chance to philosophize, as you will. As I sat in the rocking chair on the porch, with the coyotes howling in the background, I thought about what my life was. It has been just a few weeks since I put everything I owned into a 5' x 10' storage unit and sold anything that wouldn't fit; all so that I could quit my job and become a travel writer and see places and experience things I've dreamed my whole life. So it's here in the barren rolling hills of Ohio, I've come to a point of reflecting over the last few weeks and what life is.
As I was pondering on life, I looked inside the cottage and saw the summation of the "things" of my life, sitting in a backpack and a suitcase. I started going through the backpack and suitcase and pulling out things (this is where the boxers and mello yellow t-shirts come in). I started with some of the necessities, my boxers, laptop, Not for Tourists travel guide, map, camcorder, passport and mello yellow t-shirt. These were two-fold, as some of them were necessary for living, so that I didn't blind people with my southern, pale skin by walking around topless and pantsless, while other items were necessary for traveling and working. I then pulled out things that had a different value to me. These were postcards, a card from a friend and a C.S. Lewis book.
In many ways, I feel like the last three weeks has taught me more about life than any other season of my life. While in New York City I told a lot of people about what I was doing. I mentioned that I don't have any concrete plans and there are some days where the next week I'm not sure exactly where I'm going or staying. I got the weirdest looks. You would've thought that I just pulled up my shirt to reveal that I have three nipples. Yet, as I started pulling things out of what I can best refer to as "my life", it made me think about what my life is and has been. When I think of my life and the things that have been memorable, it's been the simple experiences, and not necessarily material goods, that I believe make it what it is. It's the teenagers I met years ago in Africa, who showed me how to play rugby and invited me everyday to play with them. It's the random man on the streets of South Africa who invited me into his home for several hours, serving me tea and telling me about the struggles of living in the era of Apartheid. It's the U.S.A. cyclist my brother introduced me to and we talked with during the 1996 Olympics at the Link Bicycle Shop in Atlanta, only to ask my brother afterward who the hell Lance Armstrong was. It was coming into my apartment during the summer of 2007 when an editor of a magazine had emailed me for my byline information, to publish the article I had submitted, which was my first and the reason I got into writing.
So what do all these things have in common. The postcards, the card from the friend, the C.S. Lewis book, the African teenagers, the South African man, the conversation my brother and I had with Lance Armstrong and the email from the editor? What they have in common, is that they are directly connected with either a person or an experience. They don't so much serve as a "thing", but as an experience. And that my friends, is what my life is. It's those conversations and experiences that make up why I travel, both to new places and the same place. As I write this, I honestly believe I have everything I need, other than the credit card debt I still have a little to pay off on and the car that's sitting at my mom's that I still owe a few months on. Am I better because I'm living somewhat of a nomadic, minimalist life because I don't have a bunch of things, don't have a home and ain't "gettin' some" tonight? Absolutely not. There are some of you reading this whose lived are enhanced for the better and are living fulfilling lives that consist of a house, a great job, a beautiful and loving spouse and children. If you have those things, then I applaud you and I hope you're experiencing a life and not just accumulating a life. And if you're not happy, then I would consider a change. Should you sell your things, take a career break and travel the world? Psh, I don't know. I can't hold your hand while we skip to the bathroom. I can only tell you about my experiences and how they're shaping my life.
I believe this first trip to New York City, will be one of the ones I remembered the most. It was my first trip after quitting my job and leaving my home to chase my dreams. It was a trip about making new friends and strengthening relationships and embarking on a trip that is changing me everyday. Tomorrow at a approximately 9:30 a.m. I'll come back onto the grid, as this road trip continues west with a stop tomorrow in Herman, Missouri. I'm sure I'll turn on my phone and feel connected, as well as loved, when I'm welcomed to tweets, pokes, text messages and wall posts I missed from my time off the grid. I hope then, I'll share the same sentiment as I do now, as I listen to Brett Dennen, where in the words of one of his songs he states: "In a world full of suffering, why am I so blessed". I've now used all the keywords that I mentioned in the first paragraph, except for the term "booty", which I will now add for search and link juice sake, since it has numerous connotations, and thus much search engine and link juice relevance. So I now must go, plus it's cold and I heard the leaves ruffling down below. Thanks for reading.