Skip to main content

It’s Not Too Hard

On April 9, 2008, my life was irrevocably changed. Every risk I’ve taken in the last two years has been a direct result of almost a single moment in time. I remember looking at one of my best friends, Brad, and saying “I am going to quit my job and travel the world.” To hear Brad describe this moment is somewhat shocking, because he could see in my eyes how real this was, and he knew it would happen.

P1010554It started out, as it always does, with a small risk. Brad wanted to do European Delivery on a new BMW and spend a couple weeks driving around Europe – for me to join him would require taking the longest amount of consecutive vacation from a job I had ever taken in my life, an entire two weeks. Our trip would end in Amsterdam, where some of the guys on my team worked, so I was able to justify it by finishing up with a week working out of our Amsterdam office. Brad’s brother Adam joined us for what would turn out to be a whirlwind tour across most of Western Europe and a defining experience for all three of us.

A few days into this trip, we arrived at the Rugenpark Hostel in Interlaken, Switzerland and met Chris. How many cracks there were in the external structure of my life at this point I can’t say, but all it took was a few minutes of conversation with Chris to bring the entire thing crashing down.

When we first talked to Chris to check in, I complemented him on his fantastic English and we were all shocked to find out that he was actually American! We asked him how he came to be running a hostel in Switzerland and he explained how many years ago he had done the typical backpacking trip through Europe after college – but unlike most, he had fallen in love with Switzerland and simply decided to stay. He loved to ski and spent years doing whatever jobs he could to raise just enough money to pay for that day of food and skiing, finding the ideal job was washing dishes in the midday so he could ski in the morning and the evening.

P1010826It didn’t make sense to me. Everything I had been taught about how to be successful in life was that you had to grind every day, work hard, plan your career, and slowly improve. That you couldn’t really stop to enjoy life until it was over and you retired. The idea that someone could just do what they wanted in life didn’t make sense. As we walked up to our room, I realized how wrong I was, and by later that evening I had convinced myself to find a different way to live.

It may seem like a simple interaction, a simple set of knowledge gained which really should have already been there. Maybe it’s a truth you already know, maybe it’s a false hope you don’t agree with. Whatever the case, it’s part of the reason I share my adventures with you. I don’t hope to make you “crazy” like me, but I do hope that I can show that it’s not always as hard as you think to do something you want to do. We should define our success and happiness in life internally, not by external pressures from society – we shouldn’t give up our own happiness because people around us want something different.

Often when people hear about what I’m doing, they tell me about something of their own that they’ve always wanted to do. When I ask why they don’t do it, the most common response is this: “It’s not that easy.”  This makes me sad.  Here is the truth as I see it…

It may not be that easy, but it’s not too hard. We build walls around our hopes for all sorts of reasons, and the first step to breaking them down is to acknowledge them. From there, it’s all about taking action, training ourselves in small steps to reduce fear. The world is full of inspiring stories of people who have done and are doing amazing things – it’s not that easy for any of them… but it’s not too hard.





Balaji said…
That was a nice piece. Having known you from work, I admire your resolution to travel and to do the things that you want to do. You are my inspiration; but don't know when I will put it in action.
Interesting and inspiring piece, however in order to do what you did you had to be totally happy walking away from everything in your current life - lose all ties. Friends, relationships, home, mortgage/rent, regular paycheque, posessions, security. You would also have to stop caring to a degree about your future, ie what will happen when you get older, where will you live, pension, finances, etc etc. The freedom of just not caring about that must be amazing. "Live in the now" etc etc.

I admire ANYONE who can throw caution to the wind like this, and several times I have tried but always been over-ridden by caution and in some ways, fear. It's annoying because I always preach "life is not a dress rehearsal" to other people!

However I am one of those people who doesn't just dream about things, I make them happen. I wanted to do a wingwalk so I did, I wanted to see Mayan ruins, so I did a trek around the Yucatan, I wanted to go to the Burning Man festival so I found a way to make it happen and that event changed my life for the better. Next year I'm going to China to explore off the beaten track, but only for 2 weeks :( and for my 40th in 2012 I've vowed to go to Mozambique and dive with whale sharks and mantas. I'm already saving up for that one.

I started my own internet business 4 years ago which, along with my part time job, generates the income to make my dreams happen. I live alone and have no second income from an "Other Half", so if I want something, I have to work to make it happen and I do. I will always be annoyed at myself that I can't 100% let go, and just head off into the world with a suitcase though. Even saying the word "CAN'T" makes me feel ashamed because if I really wanted to, I COULD. How do you get past this obstacle if you as a person, are inherently cautious with one eye constantly on future security?

I dream of a round the world ticket and living out of a backpack, but my overriding goal is to make a succes out of the business I am building, then use that success to finally get that round the world ticket. Is that a bad thing? Craving the success of my own achievements, rather than just thinking "screw it", shutting the business down, and heading off with my backpack and very little security?
This comment has been removed by the author.
Still musing thisone.

To quote this post on

"patience is not waiting, it is knowing - knowing that everything is happening, has happened, and will happen at exactly the right moment."

Maybe my moment is just around the corner ;o)
pete said…
Thanks for the thoughtful response!

I do want to immediately point out that I am not at all trying to encourage people to go on huge world travel benders or the like - rather, I hope to use my extreme example to encourage people to go after appropriate risks for themselves.

All of us have things we have always wanted to do, but always seem to find excuses not to do them. I try to show that we don't have to be afraid. Whether it's taking a vacation in Egypt instead of Florida or simply going to a track day or taking a rock climbing class... Whatever it is, I hope to inspire people to get past the excuses.

I don't often talk about it except with very close friends, but this entire process is a massive struggle for me precisely because of the sacrifices I made/am making. I have given up much to do this, entirely changing the course of my life. Ultimately this is why I continue to do it - it's a rebellion against the cold logic of my trained thought processes, a desire to find a balance with passion and heart. Or, as I often explain, an early mid-life crisis. ;)

More than anything though, what makes this possible for me is my (extreme) self confidence. I don't feel like I'm throwing anything to the wind because, truth be told, I have the safety net of my intelligence and karma to fall back on.

I would say that in your case it sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing, and going about it the way I would myself. Find challenges to improve yourself and others around you - for you, right now, that challenge is what you are working on. From your phrasing, it sounds like that's the real risk.

It sounds like you're pushing yourself to success while finding room to challenge yourself dynamically in other directions. I think that's the key, and it sounds like you have it.

Popular posts from this blog

Patagonia Beckons

Today I begin what may become one of the most difficult tests of long term mental and physical endurance and strength I have ever undertaken: for most of its remaining 2500km through Patagonia, Ruta 40 is considered one of the most desolate highways in the world. Over half of the remaining road is gravel, sand, and dirt. The number of towns listed on a map once I pass Perito Moreno can be counted on one hand, and there are many stretches of hundreds of miles without provisions, fuel, or places to stay.

Gear Review: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks

In the past couple months on the road I think I’ve spent more time riding my scooter through rain than I have in the dry – this is clearly reflected in the fact that as time has gone by I’ve invested more and more money in things to keep my stuff dry, since wet gear sucks. One of my favorite purchases for this trip is the pair of Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks I picked up just before leaving, in 13L and 20L sizes. They cost me around $20 each and are one of the best pieces of gear I’ve purchased in years – extremely durable, effective, and simple to use.

5 Things that Suck about Traveling Solo

I find it telling that it seems a majority of the interesting travel blogs I run across are written by solo travelers, most often women. I think there’s a reason why we write more than people who travel with friends or in groups and that it’s pretty self evident: it’s an outlet for our loneliness. In the last year and a half, the vast majority of my time has been spent away from home, alone. As I write this, it’s been over a month since I’ve conversed with anyone in my native language, and I can remember every single conversation in English for the month before that. The truth is, I don’t think I could have done this without the internet – without a blog to share my thoughts, without Facebook to see what my friends are up to, without the occasional e-mail to provide a façade of normalcy… without these things I’d likely have driven myself insane with my internal dialogue. Now, I grant, there’s a reason I travel alone and I do love it, but lately it seems all I run across in the blogosp