Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Awakening

I wrote this entry many, many days ago (I've lost track of time, so it could easily be weeks and weeks ago). But I didn't post it because it felt too early and it was way too preachy and happy and....well, to be honest, it was very much done completely in a bar after several delicious, cheap drinks, and I needed to think about it for a while. I do this with all my entries. I'm very meticulous. I'll even go back and correct errors and add in things to entries that are months or years old. I can't help it. I'm weird. So this entry...this entry I had to really roll around with...but after looking through and correcting the stumbles (beware though, I left in the drunken rambling and A.D.D. nature of the writing), I know I feel exactly this way and I don't care if it sounds like a motivational speech. If there is one theme to this blog, one crying-out point, this is it. This is a %100 honesty:

I can't go back.
Well, I can and I will.
But I can't go back and live a normal life again (actually, have I ever actually lived a normal life?).
I am not me anymore. Simple as that.
I'm sure of it. It's confirmed.
Or maybe I am just becoming more. The real me, maybe? Yeah, that sounds about right - the me that I've hid from a lifetime of self-inflicted doubt, society-pushed expectations, and false TV-created perceptions of success and failure.
Fair warning: I'm going to make a lot of self-riotous, considerably un-modest statements about myself, and I'm really sorry for that. The thing is, I have to type them out. In this guesthouse bar I'm at right now, I have to see these words on a screen. To make it more real. Concrete. Achievable.

More specifically, I can't go back after this journey to a 9-5 job. Oh God, it pains me to praise myself like this, but I am better than that. I am bigger and smarter and greater than that. 9-5's are good and needed and respectable. But it's not for me anymore. 
I have stars in my eyes and they won't leave until they're done burning me up completely.

Tonight, I feel like some kind of LOST-like destiny hit me (Mark, I haven't thrown in a LOST reference for a while and couldn't resist). While walking back to my dorm (side note: it's a hostel called Glur and it's one of the nicest, hippest, places I've ever stayed at - if you're going to Bangkok, want a killer location right next to the BTS transit station, and don't mind a fancy dorm setting, book this place immediately!) in the middle of the bustling Bangkok financial district, I was stopped by the first American I've met in Thailand so far, who happened to be from the U District in Seattle and had his own architecture company there for 35 years. He owned a local hostel with his wife a few street down (edit - this is Mac and Noi who took me to see the monk from this post). He talked to me about how they had over 60 beers imported from around the world. Believe me, I was sold the minute he said the number 60 (I've been dying to have anything close to an IPA in Southeast Asia instead of watered-down, but admirably cheap, beer).

30 minutes later, I'm drinking with the owner in his alleyway bar. 

Of course, right?

So this owner told me toxic, dangerous stories. Stories that wormed into my mind - and it's a gross metaphor and I apologize - and laid a billion eggs ready to hatch at the slightest spark of inspiration. He told me stories of previous adventurers staying at this random hostel who MADE A LIVING TRAVELING. He gave me countless suggestions on how to fund these adventures, including reaching out to UW alumni, donors, travel companies, and so on and so forth.

And a light bulb didn't just click on in my head. 
It shattered. 
It exploded. 
It fucking erupted into a million pieces of panic and glory and excitement.


My good friend Shane had a bumper sticker on this car a few years back and it has (I know how this sounds) honestly been extremely crucial to the way I live my day-to-day life (edit - I now have this tattooed on me). I've never had a sentence, especially be it on a bumper sticker!, radiate with my soul so powerfully and completely. It read: 

Remember who you wanted to be.

Take a reading pause. Re-read that sentence. Think about it for a moment. On first glance, what does that sentence mean to you?

Here's what it means to me: We get so caught up in life that we forget that we always knew who we wanted to become in life, back when we were kids. Before the "that's too hard" or the "you'll never be able to be that" or the "that won't make enough money" or, or, OR forever and repeating.

So what happened? How many of us got tied down to a life we never wanted and doesn't truly make us feel alive? It's because the world does it's best to destroy that idea. Don't let it. You can be anything and do anything. When you were a kid, you wanted to be a writer? An astronaut? A crime-fighter (masked superheroes are a real thing! For example, Seattle has/had one!)? A model? It's all possible.

It's all about remembering who YOU wanted to be. Not what people tell you to be or should be or is the most practical.

I remember who I wanted to be.

I wanted to be this. At this exact moment in time, 

I wanted and want to be this.

The only problem arises is: now what? What do I do? Do I contact UW alumni or random donors? And if so, what do I say? Something insane like: "Oh hey, I want to travel, save the world, start a couple NGOs, help the poor, and write about it in a witty-like fashion so that I can be an international writer? Oh, and could you pay me for it?" 


But, okay, alright. Remembering who you wanted to be is tough. You have to not let the doubts consume you. I mean, what happens when your dreams flash before your eyes? What happens when you experience that serene moment when everything and anything makes complete and utter sense?

Do you question it?
Do you ask why?
Do you...? Do you...? Do...?

No, no, NO!

You don't.

You do it. It's your dream. You follow it.
I want a family, I want a wife, I want kids, I want the white picket fence and the adorable German Sheppard keeping guard. But, for now, I want this. And, who knows, maybe I can find a way to do both at the same time (edit - yes, please).

Either way, I want this more than anything.

I want to change the world. And I want to make a living from it.

I don't know how, but that's part of the journey, right?

Note: to anyone reading this. 
This is meant for more than an Oprah speech to simply make me feel good. This is meant for YOU, too. To tell you that YOU can do what you dream about and not feel ashamed to chase it because you're afraid of being laughed at or failing. I dreamed of travel and writing and now I'm doing it. 

Do you remember who you wanted to be?

Again, one more time, think about it for a moment before you keep reading on. I mean, really, really think about it. Don't worry, I'll wait. When you were a kid, let's say 5-10 years old, before the doubts and the shame and expectations smothered you, what excited you?

Have it? Good. Hold onto it.

Start tasting it in your everyday life. Breathe it in every single time you inhale. 
Wake up tomorrow and find what you love. And chase it with every piece of your heart.
Because one day you will die and this part of life will be over.
Done. Finished. Finale. 
You will never be the person you are at this exact moment you're reading this.
You have a finite time on this Earth.
Take advantage.

Remember who you wanted to be.

I have. 

And you can, too.


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