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The Return- Lessons from 3 months of world travel

Important message in Bold, Readtime-12 minutes bold 16 minutes total

Photo used under Creative Commons from Beatrice Murch

Right now I am sitting in the center of Buenos Aires, looking out at the statue El Oblesco from the second story of the huge McDonald's. Hey I had to stay true to my fast food American roots right? In two days I will be hopping on a bus, my 5th so far on this trip and beginning the trek back home to Seattle.

The past three months have been an absolutely unreal experience. I’ve seen 3 great countries in Peru, Chile and Argentina and have met hundreds of amazing people. I’ve gained cultural knowledge, some great friends and most importantly a fresh perspective.

I left three months ago despite the pleadings and warnings of family and friends. This was a period of my life would be the ending of a very painful chapter, in which I had fallen into a deep rut.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Armando Maynez

I had set my mind on moving to Buenos Aires and I knew that I wouldn’t be content until I made it happen. My stubbornness wouldn’t allow me to enjoy anything else unless it moved me closer to fulfilling this dream. It became an obsession, everything that went well in my life was bittersweet.

An  asterisk was put beside every enjoyment. It explained that while this occurrence was great and a welcome change to the landslide of devastating events I’d recently endured, it wasn’t creating happiness unless it led me closer to this journey.

For the record, I was wrong.

I was also right. Let me explain…

I was wrong for leaving when I did. While timing is never perfect, my time in leaving was particularly poor. I was wrong for abandoning my puppy who I’d never spent a day without and pawning her off on my mom while I crossed hemispheres and continents. For leaving when my mother and brother both needed me at home. Wrong to run from unresolved issues, to leave because I’d lost in love and in my career. To hide behind dreams and aspirations to justify my madness. To give up just like I had so many times before.

My motives were un-pure, the yearning for change, escape and deeper meaning had compromised them. I’m fairly intelligent, non-delusional and can admit that in certain aspects of leaving I f#$!ed up. Mostly before leaving in poor decisions I’d made the prior year, but even in leaving with unresolved issues looming.

Why say this now? Why not just pretend that it’s all good?
Well because I ran away to start over, yet I wasn’t ready to do so.  This F#$! up, these mistakes and oversights need to be mentioned. This is because they led me on the greatest journey which provided the best times of my life.

Still with all mistakes, there is a price to be paid. Relationships must be repaired, bills must be paid, and a hard look in the mirror and admission of guilt is in order, so this is that admission.

However, there is no price for what I have gained on this journey and for that I have no regrets.

I was right to leave. Why?

I left my puppy with my mom, passing along another responsibility to someone who already had far too many.

The result?
My mom has a new best friend and wants to keep her forever. We’re currently in negotiations over custody.

I left my mom, who I would help with her crazily busy schedule to fend for herself, despite tearful pleadings to stay. She explained how I was her rock, her co-pilot and the person she could vent too. I left my brother who had recently become my partner in crime. Who despite his alpha male appearance had shared his thoughts and feelings with only me. The guy I’d hang out with every Sunday, going to the Ivar’s Bar in Mukilteo, to talk with Eddie our favorite bartender and bs about things. We had become not just brothers, but also very good friends.

The result?
Both found strength in each other and made new friends to confide in. I’ve now learned just how dependent I was on each of them. Living for 3 months without having anyone to share your deep thoughts with through conversation will teach you just how important the relationships you have at home really are. It also goes along way in teaching you to become a man and teaching you self reliance. I remember seeing a book in my mom’s car before leaving entitled “Codependent no more”. Some things you can learn in books, yet it seems this process happened organically. Life itself is one hell of a teacher once you decide that you will start living it on your terms.

I ran from my problems, debts and unresolved issues.

The result?
They didn’t vanish, they remain right where they were when I left. Yet I’m now happy about this fact, not overwhelmed. While I thought leaving would provide me a fresh start, I’ve learned my fresh start begins upon arriving home.
When I left I didn’t have the ability to change these things. I’d wallow in self pity, accept uncertainty in my life and allow mediocrity. Laziness and irresponsible behavior were just part of life.

I know things will be much different now. Hard work, renewed confidence and newfound clarity will drive me  to succeed in whatever I want in this life. No excuses, no regrets, no longer. Just action and results, inching me closer to what I’m truly after, happiness.

I left because I was broken, I had lost in love and in my career.

The result?
As John Mayer sings “I am in repair”. Heartbreak can really suck, there is no question about that. When I left I felt like I’d thrown 3 years of my life for nothing, on a relationship in which I was deeply committed. I now know that I just learned a 3 year long lesson and survived it without much collateral damage (I.e. a kid or a divorce).


In fact things recently came full circle, about two months ago. I remember sitting in the kitchen in my apartment here in Buenos Aires and staring out at the skyscrapers in Puerto Madero, my eyes welling with tears, heart thumping with anger and my stomach twisted in a knot. I’d just found out that my ex had gotten married too a new guy she’d known only 3 months.

Suddenly and uncontrollable, wide smile spread across my face and I started laughing uncontrollably. The tears that had formed as those of sadness fell as those of happiness. For some reason instead of the sadness that should be associated with such news, I felt brand new, happy and most of all free.

I’d lost nothing, gained knowledge and freedom. I was in a beautiful city, with gorgeous women and I’d lost 90 lbs and created a new and improved version of myself. Rick 2.0 is quite an upgrade to the old operating system.

All I can say is thank you to my ex, couldn’t have done it with you, couldn’t have done it without the motivation that the heartbreak provided. While I wish her the best, I know better.

As for my career, that’s still just getting started. I’m sure my family and friends probably get sick of my abstract ideas and need to do things differently. They wonder why I can’t be satisfied with normalcy. Still, I don’t think anyone who truly knows me would bet against me.

Upon returning home I will attain normalcy and hold down a steady job to pay the bills. Only however, until I can make it and achieve greatness. I’m too relentless not too and this journey has lit a real fire under my ass. Something that Ross Jeffries said in our interview that he would tell himself to stay motivated to find his muse was “no mediocre life, I will not live a mediocre life”. This rings true with what I want in my life. I want to stand out and never follow the status quo. The best experiences in life seem to be lived outside of ones comfort zone. This is where I plan on living my life.

I hid behind dreams and aspirations to justify my madness, gave up on an ordinary life to run away to another world.

The result?
I found what I’d been seeking for so long and learned that the answers I’d been looking for lied on the inside. It took a trip halfway around the world for me to become a man. Defining what you want in your life is essential. You need to know where you want to go if you plan on ending up there. I know what I want and I know that I will do whatever necessary to get there. Life experience and self reliance have helped me grow so much in a short period of time. Now I just have to apply everything I’ve learned, display the strength I’ve gained and enforce my own rules living life on my own terms.

This experiences was incredible. The places I saw and lessons I learned by exploring new places out on my own was an unmatched educational experience.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Bill

In Ft. Lauderdale I learned that sometimes a drunken jog on the beach at midnight is a great way to clear you mind. That old men inviting you to grab a drink on the beach might be after more than mojitos. That Alligators taste like chicken, but chewier. That an idealistic young traveler, a Jersey native on business and an Alaskan volunteer can become friends at a beach bar on $2 beer night. That the city busses here are more dangerous than anywhere in South America. That this stopping point in my voyage doubles as a nice vacation spot.

In Lima, Peru I learned that an open mind and saying yes to invitations can lead one to some truly amazing experiences. That a Chilean and a gringo can explore a new city and forge a strong friendship in the process. That if you have a suspicion that a girl might be a hooker, your probably right. That letting go of preconceived notions and warnings from the uninformed can reward you with a unique and authentic cultural experience. That overnight tour busses can be pretty unbelievable when you have a curvy Columbian girl sitting next to you.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Shen Hsieh

In Arica, Chile I learned that sometimes the best travel itinerary is a relaxing day on a sandy beach. That solo exploration in a foreign land can be very refreshing and a welcome change to the craziness o everyday life. That sunscreen is an absolute necessity when close to the equator in the middle of summer under a damaged Ozone. That surfing is definitely something I need to try.

In Santiago I learned that 2 day bus rides suck and splurging on a more expensive, more comfortable bus seat is a good idea. That your South America on a Shoestring Lonely Planet book might not have up to date information on hostel locations. That pollution in a city and smog can make a destination much less desirable.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Hugo Marcelo Mendez Campos

In Mendoza, Argentina I learned that sometimes it is necessary to slow down and take it all in. That when arriving in a foreign sity at midnight, it’s good to have some cash on hand. That 3 Canucks, 2 Aussies and an American can discuss world issues on Argentina and argue less than two friends do over fantasy football. That riding bikes and touring wineries while drinking Absinthe and unlimited wine with this same group can provide a truly amazing travel experience, one I will never forget.
That just before reaching what you thought was your dream destination, you may find a better one. That I love Mendoza, Argentina.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Beatrice Murch

Finally in Buenos Aires, Argentina I learned what it was like to live in a huge cosmopolitan city. What it was like to be among millions and yet feel isolated, unable to communicate anything of substance. That what I’ve been searching for doesn’t lie in a specific destination and has been with me all along. It just took a change in perspective to bring it out. That I could never be a full time travel writer and leave home for much more than 3 months. That motivation a strict routine and time to do what you enjoy, brings out your true passion in life.

When I started this little blog back in November, I had big dreams, but really just wanted to spread a positive message. Since then the site has become a huge success and surpassed what I thought was possible. LivingBueno.com continues to grow each month and gain popularity. The many positive reader comments I’ve received are humbling and really help keep this movement going.

I knew that I wasn’t the only young person who valued happiness over currency and material possessions, but it’s becoming clear that this group is huge and continues to grow. I’ve been inspired in my travels, seeing amazing things, meeting amazing people and gaining invaluable knowledge. I will continue to do my part to help spread this positive message and lead the movement of people like me, who just want to do what they love and be their best and pursue their happiness each and everyday.

I want to send a special thank you to all of the amazing people who I’ve had the chance to write about and interview over the past 6 months. Your kindness in sharing your experiences has been a huge motivation to myself and all my readers.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Zach Dischner

In Australia among the aboriginals exists a tradition in which young men from the tribes who are on the verge of adulthood are sent out along into the Outback to explore, think and survive. Learning self reliance, gaining a new perspective out of necessity. This voyage was no different for me. I may have thought I was the man before, yet know I know I am a man and have made this passage. I left Seattle a boy and I am returning a man. I threw myself into an unknown world alone and survived, learning so much about myself in the process.

In closing I’d like to leave you with a few quotes that have appeared on the site during these first 6 months that really sum up the message I try to convey and explain what this movement is all about.

“So, if you’re single and hesitating to make a move abroad because you think it’s just too complicated, I can only say you’re totally wrong about that!  It can be done—and faster and more easily than you think.  If we could do it in six weeks with a suburban home and four teenagers and two companies, what’s stopping you from packing your bags and leaving within the next month?”- Maya Frost

“If you're young and considering this, remember that there's no better time than now!  Fresh out of school, unmarried (generally), no career or family to consider, what's holding you back?  I know the situation is different for everyone, but I feel like there are attractive options for whatever place you're coming from.  I can say that living abroad has been THE best choice I ever made.  I wouldn't trade my life right now for anything.”- Evan Kubitschek

"It's okay to be confused. Everyone goes through that. It may sound like a cliché, but it is true about failing and not knowing what you want, just be prepared to fail. You should look forward to messing up as those are the moments that are the most filled with educational possibilities. You really don't know yourself unless you have failed." Frank Almeida

“The most effective fences exist only in our minds or, at least, that’s what I’ll tell myself until the next time I have to confront my finances.”- (from "Do travel writers go to Hell?")Thomas Kohnstamm

“Embrace strangers with open arms and dedicate time to friends and family. The emotional enrichment and unforgettable memories that you will enjoy are well worth the time spent. Don’t be distracted by the everyday struggle for material happiness because it is an illusion. True happiness is made through life experiences with amazing people and is impossible to find without a ready mind and an open heart. Any pursuit without these things is futile.” Rick A. Griffith

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The Return- Lessons from 3 months of world travel