Just over a year ago I was in this same place. It's a short and touristy row of shops leading up to a temple in Asakusa, Japan. Last time I was here it was my first time in Japan, which meant that I was so enthralled with being there that I didn't realize what a tourist trap it was.
Now I'm here again and I see the place in a different light. I've lived in Japan for almost two months now as part of my year long trip around the world.
As I look up at the paper lanterns dangling above the street I have a thought.
"Last time I was here, I would have NEVER guessed that I would be here again under the circumstances I'm in."
The first time I was here I took a semi-unauthorized vacation from my job in Austin, Texas. My friend Todd and I just randomly decided to go, and three weeks later we were here.
Now my job is ancient history, as is everything I owned back then, including my car and my house. I no longer speak with the girl I was seeing at the time. I'm a workaholic now and I've launched four new web sites since then.
In short, a good portion of my life is now totally different. Unrecognizable. What's significant to me, though, is that I would have NEVER guessed that my life would be as it is today. Not in a million years.
If someone said, "Hey, what's more likely: that in sixteen months you'll be dead, or that you'll have given up all your possessions, you'll work out and work religiously, and that you will be a modern day nomad, moving to a new country every two months?", I would definitely say that it's more likely that I'd be dead.
I can think of paths that would lead to me dying, but I would find it impossible to see what would lead me to where I am today.
But this always happens. Every year I make mental notes and try to predict what my life will be like the following year, just as a form of idle daydreaming.
I'm always off. WAY off. Usually things have changed in ways I wouldn't have guessed in a million years.
I wonder if this is a universal experience. I asked Todd, but he's on the trip too, so his answer is predictable.
Massive constant change is fun for me. It's part of what keeps me super excited about life - I literally never know what's next. It's also what drives me towards extreme self improvement. I know that the one absolute constant in my life is me. The only way I can reliably prepare for the future is to ready myself for any possible contingency.
That comes in the form of core skill development. I constantly try to become stronger, healthier, smarter, more open minded, more confident, and more friendly. These are all things that will help in any possible situation. I try to become more educated too, as a way of seeing how all of the world fits together. I just finished reading my first of 85 books in a series of introductions to different topics, published by Oxford. First was African history, next is American political parties.
At the same time, I wonder if my rapidly changing lifestyle is a symptom of a problem, namely that I'm totally unable to set long term goals and stick to them. I change my mind too much. I don't have a clear perspective on what I want my life to look like in five years. As a matter of fact, I can't even fathom what I'll be like in five years. I'll still be writing this blog, though, so we can check then.
Then again, maybe I'll stop writing. I can't imagine how that would happen, but isn't that the point?