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Deconstructing a Life Changing Experience

Last Friday, my adventure came to a close.

I returned to Boulder, Colorado, after 89 days on the road, 36 states, and 12,044 miles. It really just felt like time to go home. I had seen the things I set out to see, visited the places I set out to visit, and ultimately had the life changing experience that I set out to have.

But digesting that life changing experience is something I’ve struggled with over the last week.

When you get home from a trip like this, nothing really looks different. The people you return to are pretty much the same. The town is still there, with its same bars and restaurants. But you are different. Which means you experience that place in a completely different way.

As I’ve adjusted back to a more stable, “real”, existence, the presence of this three month adventure has faded into memory. Every present moment fades, even the moments that change your life forever. And reconciling that fleeting nature of life with the ever lasting memories imprinted in our human consciousness is difficult to digest.

Because as the days go by, that adventure, those experiences, move farther and farther into the distance. But the memories remain, rushed to the forefront of my brain on seemingly random occasion. I’ll be sitting somewhere alone, and instantly be transported back to the mountains of Montana, or the desert of Southern California, part of me aching to return, while another part understands the need to move forward towards new adventures and experiences.

There are many things I learned on this trip, many of which I will share here over the next few weeks, but I also know that I will be deconstructing this experience for a long time to come. I will constantly be learning from the time I spent on the road, because even as those moments fade into the past, the memories that remain provide context for an experience that could not be fully comprehended in the present.

I am no longer “that guy on a motorcycle trip,” but I am a person who had the courage to be free. I am a person who had the courage to drop everything and go travel. And I can hang my hat on that experience, knowing that even as time goes on and my life changes, I will always have that summer that changed my life.

 

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Letting Go of External Validation

Can you define the happiest moment of your life?

Up until recently, I thought I could pinpoint it down to an exact point in time.

During my senior year of college, I was convinced that my sole purpose in life was to become a management consultant. I perfected my resume. I talked to all the right people. I read all the right books. I went to all the right networking events.

I was sitting in an art class, just finishing up some drawing in the late evening during the middle of October almost two years ago, and checked my email as I started walking out the door. 

And in my inbox sat an email from McKinsey inviting me to a first round interview. 

I was absolutely ecstatic. 

I started hyperventilating and had to pace back and forth across the hallway in an attempt to burn off the adrenaline that had been so instantaneously flooded into my body.

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