Book: Embrace Your Wanderlust And What You’ve Always Wanted

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What do you really to do with the rest of your life? What do you care about most? What have you always been afraid to do, or been driven to do for some reason you can’t explain nor articulate that almost no one else would understand or relate to that you can’t stop thinking and wondering about something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t because you’re afraid you’ll run out of money, or fail, or become less secure?
These are the cosmic questions raised in The Happiness of Pursuit, a book written by Chris Guillebeau, an entrepreneur, book author, and wanderlust-filled man who decided he was going to travel to every country in the world before he turned 35 – and did it.
There are a lot of people like this guy with wild ideas who make them real.
In his book, he writes about dozens of them, most just ordinary citizens with extraordinary wishes, who have become consumed with doing things most of us never even consider such as a man who walked across the United States and a woman who sailed across the world by herself. These people went out and did unthinkable things – ultra-extreme in many cases – often not for fame or money but because something inside them burned to undertake massive challenges.
People are this way sometimes. They just have to do things even when everyone else looks and they wonder “Why would they want to do that? what’s the point? are you crazy?”
When I graduated from college I told everyone I was going to drive from D.C. to California and they asked me why and thought I hadn’t thought my idea through. They were right. I hadn’t. But I did it anyway and have been enriched since then by that experience.
This is not the only time people have wondered what I’m doing. Writing this blog is a fine example. It’s probably peculiar to most of you; many wouldn’t want to do and perceive as time oddly spent. Why not play golf like most men your age? Golf doesn’t excite me. Writing does.
I feel compelled to do it for reasons I don’t fully understand other than to say I’m drawn to it and it gives my life meaning somehow. Writing this blog is like water I need to drink so I don’t get thirsty, so I stay alive.
You may be doing something wanderlust-like in your life or wish you had but never took the plunge for fear of what might go wrong; the career you might disrupt or jettison; the onslaught of naysayers who would make you question your decision; the security you want that you believe would be no longer if you went for your other life that has been intriguing you since you were a kid.
This book is uplifting because it makes you want to do what you’ve always wanted to, but also unsettling because it challenges you to do things that are difficult and full of uncertainty and risks both physical and emotional. It’s scary. Think about how lonely you would be walking across America by yourself. A guy did this. Crazy.
But intriguing. The book makes you yearn for something more to experience and convinces you it’s worth risking a lot to make it come to fruition.
Within the book, I dug around for the best insights I could find for how to think about this other life you may want to take on. A few passages jumped at me, figuratively, that may give you the incentive, motivation, and practical advice for doing what you want to do for the rest of your days. Soak in these tips that may take you where you’ve never been but always wanted to go.
Embrace Adventure
The author relays the story of Chris McCandless who became well known for trying to live off the land in Alaska – that resulted, sadly, in his death. Before that, however, he wrote a letter that inspired many people to rethink their lives and routines:
I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things that you may previously never have thought of doing or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservativism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a person than a secure future. The very basic core of a person’s living spirit is the passion for adventure.
Yesterday I returned from the most emotionally moving trip I’ve ever taken, a week in Wyoming looking at mountain vistas unlike anything I’ve seen. It was like drinking from a fountain of delicious nature nectar, as if God was there making everything feel comfortable, watching over the situation, making the scene soar.
Inside my mind it felt like I was being elevated someplace spiritually soothing, up on a tower, seeing the world with more clarity and wisdom. This adventure – one I rarely take – convinced me to take more journeys to places I’ve never been regardless of the insecurities or fears I definitely have. More Midwest, probably, is in my future. How about you? Compelled to go to the state of Washington or Beverly Hills to see movie stars? Want to be a comedian?
You can do this. All it takes is your decision.
Discontent Leads to Inspiration
The book is mostly upbeat about the benefits of branching out beyond what we think we should or can do, but it also points out the importance of listening to how you feel about your life and whether you feel content or not.
“If you’re unhappy with your life, or even if you feel a faint stirring to do something different, pay attention to the dissatisfaction. Ask yourself “what if” questions. What if I actually pursued that dream or idea? What if I made that big change? Discontent can be a source of growth and inspiration.”
Are you content with your life? Be honest. Do you want to make a change? Is there something you want to do, someplace you want to go that you just haven’t been able to commit to? Maybe now is the time. The book’s message is you’re unlikely to regret your decision.
What if today you sold your house, moved to Bethany Beach, and became a maker of Thrashers French Fries? What if you went to Nashville to become a country singer? What if you founded a book club or became a writer of blogs about all the great landmarks in the United States? What if you decided to ride a unicycle across Kansas?
Ask yourself what-if questions. You may become someone you never thought you would be – and that transition will make all the difference in boosting your belief in yourself and the goodness of mankind. Your life may become more fulfilling than you ever thought it could be.
One of the passages in the book really struck me because it’s about putting in the hours to master a craft. It was about the famous comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. He’s plenty rich and doesn’t have to work another minute to be secure financially. Yet he’s still motivated to go out around the country and do stand-up comedy because he wants to continue sharpening his comedic skills. His explanation in a New York Times article, which was excerpted in this book, resonates with me and I believe it will with you also. It’s about the never-ending need to work hard at what you do – whatever it is – so your skills don’t deteriorate. Seinfeld said:
“I read an article a few years ago that when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: a nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life.”
This concept is about honing your muscle memory. The more blogs I write, the sharper they will be. I believe this is true and even if I’m wrong I feel good that at least I’m working towards that goal. Persistent practice is more important than achieving the goal. I can’t control the achievement as much as I can the skill sharpening so I focus on the latter and it’s comforting – and more important, at least to me.
Work Matters Most
For whatever you decide to do the rest of your life – whether venturing out in a new direction, going to Hawaii and becoming a beachgoer, or whatever – the key will be to work at it with unceasing commitment. You don’t have to be the world’s best or strive for that. You don’t have to worry about what others think of what you do or the work product or service you provide. All that matters is that you, minute by minute, day by day, keep working. In the book Steven Pressfield, himself a book author, puts it like this:
“The most important thing about art is the work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
If you become a painter, paint every day. If you coach kids, coach them with all your heart every day. If you start walking across America, walk every day until you’re done.
Don’t Wait
As you contemplate venturing into an entirely different lifestyle, you want to avoid overthinking all the details. Plan, yes, but don’t let all the logistics and financial considerations keep you from actually going out and doing whatever it is you want to do.
This point is brought forth by Tom Allen, who ventured to ride his bike from England to foreign countries. He found out people tend to ask him too many detailed questions about how to pull this off and should cut down on those less crucial matters.
“What gear do you use?” is the wrong question. The better question is “What are you waiting for? Pick a departure date. Start saving. Get a bike, tent, and sleeping bag. And go.”
For the trip I took last week to Wyoming, I had made the decision to go five months ago without researching much about the place, where we would stay, or what the place was like. I just wanted to make the big decision – I’m going – and that commitment was all that mattered. I went there and just let the experience unfold and that was a key reason it was so enjoyable. There weren’t expectations or hopes; it was unexpected surprises each day, one serendipitous joy after another. There was a boat ride on the Snake River amid snow-covered mountains. I didn’t even know what the Snake River was which made it more authentically fresh like the Wyoming air that has no bad aromas, and mountains that made me want to say a lot about the meaning of life.
No Regrets
Had I never started writing this blog for the Baby Boomer Brotherhood, which I remind you is to inspire, amuse, and educate them (you), I would always regret it. Why? Because I want to do something with my life that helps Baby Boomer Brothers, including myself, feel optimistic about their futures and ensure our most productive contributions to the world are in front of us. All of us.
I imagine none of you share the desire to do something like this because you’re not me. We’re all different and I believe have a specific reason for being here. Why are you here? How do you want to be remembered? With the years you have left, what contribution do you want to make to this world? Whatever your answers, the book says there’s one thing you don’t want to feel.
“Regret is what you should fear the most. If something is going to keep you awake at night, let it be the fear of not following your dream. Be afraid of settling.”
Think about all this. Are you settling for something you believe you should continue doing but don’t really want to do if you’re being honest with yourself?
Settling is fine if that’s what you prefer. But listen to your heart. What is saying something to you? Are you being pulled to do something else?
If so, now is the time to take action.
Go for what you’ve always wanted.
Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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