Four years ago today I drove home after seven weeks in New York assisting at one of our distribution centers. This was the fifth time I’d travelled out there to help, and it was the first time I’d ever driven home. It was an act of defiance. I was pouting. I walked into work that morning caffeinated and ready to knock out my 32nd day in a row. I walked into the office and immediately found out that would not be happening. I was being forced to take a day off. I did not want to take the day off though. I was there to work. They assured me that I needed the rest, so I assured them they were wrong, and said the only way I was taking the day off was if I was driving myself home, they called my bluff. I drove home.
They were right though, I’d had one day off during that seven week stretch and I’d worked at least 80 hours every week since I had been there. I worked 103 the week of my birthday, and it was taking its toll. That morning I woke up and couldn’t even take a shower standing. I hadn’t had a night of more than five hours sleep in weeks. I didn’t care though. This was my life. These were the battle scars that came with hard work, and I lived for these opportunities to push myself beyond my limits. They were taking that away from me and I was too prideful to be okay with that.
This all seems wild to me now, but back then I lived to save the day. I lived for that that pat on the back. I pushed myself to the highest level to show I was the most deserving of it. Sometimes I would even earn a thank you. I usually had to do triple the work for that though. “We don’t want your head getting too big” they’d say with their sly little smile, and then I’d turn around an run off to do some more work.
The truth is I enjoyed throwing myself into my work. I enjoyed seeing how deep I could go, how far I could push myself, and I loved watching how I grew as a result. Most of all though, I liked to see how far I could expand my threshold for discomfort. This was something I did at work, in the gym, and at the dinner table. I once ate 24 eggs and two cups of oats to see if I could do it. I did do it. And then I laid on the floor for an hour and did nothing because even a deep breath risked undoing it. I enjoyed this though, it meant I was growing in unconventional ways beyond my bounds of discomfort. That’s all that really mattered to me at the time. Personal and professional growth. I lived a life focused on productivity and efficiency. I was a robot. A robot with PR’s though.
After walking my first fifty mile day I told the story of a fifteen mile run I’d taken after 2-3 months without any running at all. It was the second longest run I’d ever taken.
As you can see the run had some unfortunate consequences, but we actually ended up dating for about a year and it made a good joke. You never know what is going to be valuable, or what’s going to make a good story, but I can tell you my most epic failures teach the best lessons and make the best stories. Take my vanlife experience for example.
About a year after transferring out to Denver with my employer I decided to move on to a new company that paid better. I had worked my way up over $30 an hour and had access to all the over time I could ever want. The job was perfect. Then the girl I was dating, she had moved to Denver with me, decided we should move into a van and travel. I was pretty against it at first, work had always been my life and I was making good money, giving up work was like giving up my identity. Then one day depression came knocking at my doorstep and we said “f” it and sent it. What’s the worst that could happen?
We sold everything and moved into our not yet built out van and spent the next 10ish months delivering packages for Amazon and Instacart while we travelled the western United States. And then one day she kicked me out in the middle of Kansas and left me with the pack on my back and $150 in my wallet. Did I mention we had two dogs? We did.
While I loved Bindi and Havana more than I’ve ever loved any person, I also knew I had no family or support to fall on, so I couldn’t risk their safety and take them on the road with me. I didn’t even fight. Letting them go still makes me cry when I think about it, and my Lock Screen is still the photo from above. We actually took them to Fiesta Island during our travels and that’s why I chose it as my contact point with the ocean. I cried there too.
Aside from the dogs, I wasn’t too concerned all things considered. Yes, I had no material possessions, but I still had the same work ethic and I knew I’d work my way back to the top, so I moved back to Illinois and went back to the grind. Well kind of, this all took place in October of 2019 and the world changed in 2020. That didn’t matter though, after about a year of being back in my old life I knew it was never going to be the same, not after experiencing life on the road. I had changed. What mattered changed. And the opportunity cost of failure changed. Did I mention we never finished building the van out? Yeah, vanlife was an epic fkn failure, but somehow it ended up being the best decision I ever made.
Shaking my life up like that, removing myself from the foundation I’d built on habits I KNEW kept me from crumbling, and then somehow finding happiness in the process forced me to reevaluate every thing I “knew” about what made me happy. I have Sydney to thank for that. I really didn’t want to move into the van and she talked me into it. She talked me into taking the leap that shook my world, rattled it out of place, and allowed me to find my place.
While I’m on the topic, I was not innocent. I wasn’t a good partner anymore, I’d grown depressed and withdrew into myself, I couldn’t hear her needs over the cries coming from within myself. I’d also just started teaching myself computer programming, so when I did have the energy to pay attention it wasn’t directed towards her. Like I said, I throw myself into things. I meant well, but I was being selfish and meaning well doesn’t dull the edges of my actions and prevent them from causing damage.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this. Long story short, sometimes shit has to hit the fan to land in place. I found my home on the road, and I never ever would have landed here on my own. So, some of the things I do are going to seem wild but I’ve found chucking myself into the fan and seeing where I land is an effective way to find myself in places more beautiful than my mind is capable of dreaming. This journey will be built on a foundation of just sending it and seeing where it lands.
I haven’t written on here for a while, so things have changed a bit since my last plan. Also, the editing on these last two posts are subpar, but they were causing a log jam in my writing and I just needed to get them out there. Please forgive me.
Alaska? The ADT? Home? Yeah they’re all new. Also, I’ve already been through Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. I also plan to do the Grand Canyon rim to rim once I fly back from San Francisco. Oh yeah, the Mccrystal’s offered me a place to land for thanksgiving, so I fly out of Phoenix on the 22nd for a week. It’ll be the longest stretch of days I’ve had off in quite some time. I’ll try to write a few more posts to catch you up in the coming days, and most importantly I’ll just try to write every day. It might not be eloquent, but at least my blog will no longer be six weeks behind. Anyway, I’ll share some of the posts you’ve missed below.
Walking through Utah again was surreal. It was my favorite state on my way to San Diego, and it’s still my favorite state now. I came south through SLC, and once I hit Richmond I linked up with my old route and spent the next ~300 miles walking that familiar ground all the way to Kanab.