Today marks the four-year anniversary of the start of my world travel.
Hard to believe, but it feels like just last week that I shook my manager’s hand as she walked me to the door at IBM and relieved me of my ID badge.
I walked down those steps toward my car like I had done every day for the last seven years with a torrent of mixed emotions. I turned around at the bottom and stood for a minute in the cold December sunshine just wondering if I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
Mistake or not, good or bad, I knew that whatever was going on in that instant was truly life changing and my legs were wobbly with adrenaline.
26 days later my plane was lifting off toward Bangkok. I had a one way ticket in my pocket, a stuffed rucksack in the cargo, a head full of dreams, and no bloody idea what I was doing.
After tasting the sticky jungle air and putting my bare feet on the ground happy every morning, it didn’t take me long to realize that this was big. I was never going back to a cubicle.
Call it an epiphany, an enlightenment, mid-life crisis, whatever…but I feel like I’ve been given a second chance. I managed to poke the big tentacled corporate monster in the eye and slide out of grasp just as it was shoving me into a slime covered mouth.
It has now been 22 countries later (plus Alaska twice!) and there are no plans to stop. As long as these feet will take me I will keep walking.
As everyone knows, vagabonding isn’t always a day in Disney Land. There have been challenges. I miss paychecks just as much as the next guy, maybe more, and I’m ashamed to bring out what is now the archaic equivalent of a Motorola Flip phone to make calls while everyone else around me in the pub chats about their latest Apple Store download.
Yes, there are challenges.
Dreadful lack of techie toys aside, I couldn’t trade all the wonderful people I have met, the Komodo Dragons, the Grizzly Bears, or even the squat toilets for anything material.
If I keep surviving these close calls and manage not to turn into a senile, drooling, pooping, white haired lunatic, the memories I have invested in are mine forever — long after kids are asking their dad what a “HDTV” was.
So thank you to everyone who has helped me along this beautiful road — the strangers who gave me a place to sleep, the readers who kept me motivated (and sometimes even donated), the heroes, and even the locals for keeping me on my toes.
Life is good.