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?
lol me and you are alike, when you say "I constantly try to become stronger, healthier, smarter, more open minded, more confident, and more friendly." - thats what ive been focusing on and trying to do for the past couple of years. well, im interested to read your stories in the upcoming years! keep up the good work man!
I lived as a nomad all over the globe for about 2 years.. I had some ideas about where I would head, but if often changed in the blink of an eye -- www.seekingshangrila.com if you want to see the project. I could've kept going, but in the end, decided to come back to the US.
Constant change is great, but maybe you'll tire of it too -- or not. Seems people seem built for that kind of life, and others want to grow roots (but not so deep we couldn't go again.. =) My guess is that soon enough, you'll want to stop. But, hey, maybe not..
Ty, I know that you know what massive action is. Most people are incapable of it. Some people are capable. Some are prone to it. Some people are addicted to it. Those people are heroes. You're a hero.
You're in good company my friend.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
i came across your blog a few days ago, just as i was starting my own. i guess i'm a fan! so far it looks like we share some similar views on living life..
but i'm leaving this comment because i wanted a little more information on that series of books you've started reading. google was failing me.
So, I'm in Japan right now. I stayed up all night packing, laundering, and cleaning the kitchen so that it would be pleasant when I got back. Jonah and Evan hung out with me to keep me awake. The best part was that I miscalculated the time and had to race to the bus station at top speed on my electric skateboard with my suitcase on my back. Luckily it's the best suitcase ever, so that was doable.
Todd and I made no plans prior to our day of departure. No hotel. No tours. Nothing. We didn't really even read about Japan. Early that morning, though, I scrambled and wrote some posts to craigslist looking for a place to stay. One guy responded, offering a very cheap room with bunk beds near Tokyo. With no better alternatives, we agreed.
Our flight went without incident. I spent it learning Mega Memory, watching Survivor Season 3, and sleeping just enough to get adjusted to Japanese time. Todd took a video of me sleeping, snoring, and tossing my head left and right as I tried to stay situated on the tiny little headrest.
A few weeks ago I decided to start interviewing other 'perpetual travelers' who are already living the kind of life I want to live. The first interview that I'm honoured to publish is with John Bardos of JetSetCitizen. I hope you enjoy reading his insights about travel.
Hi John, thank you for this interview. Could you please tell us about yourself?
I’m a Canadian that lived in Japan for 13 years. I owned a small group of English schools for about 10 years. In 2008, my wife and I made a one year plan to sell our business, house and all our possessions to begin a new travel lifestyle. In March 2009, we reached our goal, one month ahead of schedule, and have been location independent since.
Why did you decide to start travelling?
I first left Canada, back in 1997 because I didn’t want to start working in a cubicle at some large corporation. I never wanted the traditional ideas of a good job, a nice house and 40 plus years of work until retirement. I’m an entrepreneur at heart so I need the challenge and excitement of uncertain activities like travel.