Sunday, August 24, 2014

From the Shadows of a Sun

Years ago, while vacationing in Portland, my Dad and I ended up going to see a movie we had never heard of and knew absolutely nothing about. We saw the Motorcycle Diaries. And, granted, I say this about a lot of movies (how many times have you all heard from me the word "favorite"!), but I can honestly say I've never been so moved by something before. We both sat in complete silence during the credits, and didn't leave until the last name scrolled by. Even then, we had to be ushered out kindly by the bored staff. We zombie shuffled back to the hotel in silence, a good 15 minutes away. It wasn't until the doors of the Hilton were greeting us that my Dad turned to me and told me something that I will never forget.

"That movie...that's you," he struggled to get out. "You are going to see the world and change it."
He paused.
"It was like watching you on the screen."

Dear God, what do you say to something like that?!?

"Uh, thanks, but...uh, no," was all I could get out.
But it wasn't his words that really caught me off guard, that really tore and rippled through me, but the passion and absolute positively he held in his voice. It was so firm, so concrete, so honest. Since then, my Dad, and countless others have shared that they have good faith that I have a large verse to add to this universal poem we call life. It's taken me a long time to agree.

Do you have a mission statement for your life (if you don't, go do it now, I promise it will change how you live)? Mine goes something like this:

1) travel 2) help and empower people 3) and experience everything fully and completely and in the moment.

Pretty simple.

Well, in about a week, I'll be traveling the world and I won't come back the same. This I know (my favorite Dr. Who speech said this pretty well). This journey isn't Eat, Pray, Love (don't even get me started on that movie...I'm not even linking that title because there's no reason you need to see it). This whole adventure is about experiencing the ground level of humanity. Hands in the dirt. And I can't wait to jump in.

The other night, I had a going away party at my favorite "goes-hand-in-hand-with-college" bar, The Swiss. What can I say? People from all walks of my life gathered and celebrated me. Me! Absolute insanity. (After this last sentence, about 15 minutes have gone by with me staring at my screen). I'm speechless, still, days later. I have the most gorgeous people in my life who have somehow mentored and loved me more than I could have ever asked for. When describing how lucky I am with the friends/family in my life, I become a writer who has absolutely no words in their vocabulary to describe the feeling (#somanyfeels). A whole bar (and even the bar) celebrating who I am, who I've become, and what I have meant to them. I went to the party excited to get everyone together because I wanted to celebrate them - the ones who have inspired and loved me. What's been hard to believe is that it might be the other way around, that maybe I made a bigger impact on them than they have on me. It was life-changing to experience this. And that's an understatement.

I also have a separate mission statement for my life for God. When I die, I want to be able to go to God and ask, "Did I make you proud?"

To experience people now - right here and now! - who are proud of me, continues to make me the optimistic sap that I am. It has made my life worth every single moment. Even the difficult ones. Because, well, no matter how bright the sun gets, there will always be shadows.

This adventure is the most exciting thing I've had the opportunity to do. But at the same time, I have never felt so guilty about something before. I'm following my dreams. I'm chasing an opportunity of a lifetime. I'm becoming the person I always knew I would be, the person you crazy people knew I'd be - a traveler ready to soak in the world, and eventually change it in the best ways I can.

But I'm leaving my family and my life behind. If my family were "normal" (but, shit, is any family normal though?), I guess this wouldn't be an issue. But my family is anything but. My Mom, who has had her ups and downs over the years is in one of the worst depressive slumps I've seen in many a moons.

It rips my heart out to be excited about leaving, having the adventure of a lifetime, while back home, pain and suffering will continue, and possibly even worsen. There's no denying it, a part of me feels like I'm abandoning my sister and my Dad and my Mom.

But, I have to do this. I've made my choice. And it's been a hard pill to swallow, and as much as it hurts, and as bad as it could get here without me, I have to leave. And everything will be alright, because if there is one thing I know in this life, it's this: there is and always will be hope. The goodbye party reminded me of this. My friends and family reminded me of this.

We all live life from the shadows of the sun. We are all Sisyphus. We all push that rock up that hill over and over and over and over. But it's the moments on the way down, burden free, that one gets time (however small) to smile and see the sun and stars and the moon and the hope before the next rock. (Side-note, if you haven't read The Myth of Sisyphus, find it and buy it. It's worth every second of your time).

Everything is not always alright. But you deal with the blows the best you can. Some of the blows may hurt temporary and some may stick with you for life. But I've learned that you have to accept that life is going to hurt. It's part of the deal, didn't you know?

I am going to come back stronger and greater and renewed.
I am going to come back to a family who has become stronger and more resilient.
I am going to come back and hug each and everyone in my life and tell them how much I love them.
I am going to come back and change the world.

But what I've been slowly learning from my friends/family (to me, they are the same) is this:

Maybe I'm already changing the world.

And, man, how cool is that?


  1. Nick this really pulled on my heart strings.
    My wish for you is simple, be safe and happy. Happy Travels...

  2. It is my privilege to connect with you Nick. I look forward to following your interactions with our fellow humans during your journey. Thank you Mr. David Bonderman :)

    This site seems to want to post me as "Anonymous" even after I gave them permission to ID me. Orlando Martin here, using my Wordpress account to verify my human nature: