I became a nomad today. Well, technically last Thursday, but that sentence feels a little less cumbersome than "I be came a nomad last Thursday."
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been selling, donating, and disposing of almost all of my worldly belongings in the pursuit of something different. Last Wednesday, as I stared at my nearly empty room from the pseudo-comfort of the sleeping pad tucked into the corner of my bedroom, it all became real. My stomach turned a little bit.
“What the f*** are you doing? This is insane.”
As a little bit of background for those just tuning in, those not privy to my recent social media announcements, those just finding this page, etc., I quit my job three weeks ago so I could spend the next two years riding my motorcycle around the world. For a little more info on that, click here!
I’ve been incredibly excited to take this leap for some time now. Truly. But beneath that excitement is always going to be a little bit of anxiety. “Appropriately terrified” is how I’ve been phrasing it when people ask. I think it’s important to feel that bit of anxiousness; that small bit of fear. My relationship with fear, and overcoming it, has always been a part of why I love and want to travel more. When you travel, especially long-term, the fear comes from going against the grain of what people think you’re “supposed” to do.
You’re SUPPOSED to work 40 hours a week until you die.
You’re SUPPOSED to have roots.
You’re SUPPOSED to travel once or twice a year when you go on vacations.
All of these things you’re SUPPOSED to do.
And because that's all what your life is supposed to look like, it’s natural to feel a little bit of anxiety when you actively choose every day to shuck those conventional norms to live a life of adventure, a life of experiences over things, a life of purpose.
There’s this movie that I fell in love with a few years ago when I first saw it: Chasing Mavericks. It's a biopic about Jay Moriarty - the youngest surfer to ever surf Mavericks off the cost of California. The movie deals with a lot of life lessons that we all try and learn: committing yourself to your goals, helping others, living happily, etc. But there’s a scene in the movie where Jay, played by Johnny Western, and Frosty, his mentor played by Gerard Butler, are free diving in the seaweed mangroves off the Santa Cruz coast, and a Great White Shark swims over them. Jay starts to visibly panic - letting off his air, convulsing. Frosty grabs him by the wetsuit, and signals him to calm down. The shark passes by, barely noticing the two divers, and Jay and Frosty resurface to board their boat. Once above water, Frosty delivers a lesson to a frightened Jay.
He asks Jay, “Why’d you panic?”
“I don’t know, that’s fear I guess.” Jay says.
“One thing you gotta know: fear and panic are two separate emotions. Fear is healthy, panic is deadly.” Frosty responds.
Fear is healthy, and panic is deadly. That line has always stuck with me, because it helped me overcome almost every fear in my life almost instantly. Fear is what happens when we think something is scary, and panic is the physical manifestation of that fear.
It’s completely okay to be afraid in life. If you’re afraid of something, there’s an evolutionary reason to be afraid. But fear is only there to keep you from doing something stupid. PANIC is rarely rational.
I’m afraid to go on this trip sometimes. I’m afraid to take off on the road not knowing where I’m going to sleep most nights. I’m afraid of getting hurt somewhere in a less-developed country. I’m afraid of getting assaulted or killed. I’m afraid that this trip is going to be a big financial mistake sometimes.
Planning this journey hasn’t been without a healthy dose of fear. But I’m fine with that, as long as, on Thursday morning, I throw my kickstand up, shift down once, and hit the road. I won’t let panic run my life.