Archive for the “Inside My Head” Category

I watched a movie called Brokedown Palace tonight. Its a travel movie. What’s that other movie…with Vince Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, and Anne Heche???…Return to Paradise. That’s it. And there is Before Sunrise with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I suppose The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio also falls into that category, and Lost in Translation. They are specifically about travel….and not the Spring Break kind.

It is strange that every time I hit a low point I think of travel. I am pretty sure that its not because I long for it…but I long for what it symbolizes: everything that we do not currently have but believe we need. So it is no surprise then that revisiting where you are in life would cause those memories to spring up again.

I remember when I was in college, and near after I finished, Peter would say about himself and/or his friends “He is at a crossroads right now”. After a while I realized that we are all at an eternal crossroads, as there is never a more important moment in our lives than right this second…..we just don’t always slow down to realize it (which isn’t a bad thing).

My sister said she hasn’t been happy lately. She lost her job…I think she is having trouble with the opposite sex (aren’t we all in some way), and she said she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life…all serious concerns. She is definitely at a crossroad.

My mom hasn’t been that happy lately either. Her kids live hours away. Her husband isn’t supportive. She takes care of her senile parents. It is a humbling experience to have to bathe your mother. I am not sure I could do it….and cannot believe she does as well as she does. She is able to internalize a lot…..and is definitely at a crossroad.

Many of my friends are newly married and new parents and wondering if there is nothing more than that for the next twenty years. I am not sure there is other than to say that I am sure they miss the unquestioning friendships they had in the past. There are far more expectations and much more questioning that come with those responsibilities. They are at a crossroad.

I am at a crossroad as well. There is only one kind of “crossroad” for all its guises…..the one that asks, “who am I and what am I doing here?”. That, I suppose, is the definition.

Take my sister. She is literally asking the question, being laid off from her job without an establshed career, and young and without a family of her own…..”what am I here for?”.

My mom as well, in a different way. “My kids are gone, I am now caring for the very people who used to care for me, and my husband is little more than a ghost in my own house. I am not a mother, or a wife, or a daughter. What am I here for?”

My friends…much the same. They are redefining their lives in terms of fatherhood, responsibility, and being a husband. I do not think we are well prepared for that transition. Beforehand we are sons, and students, and friends. Unless we had a strong father figure it is unlikely we have the tools to make that transition smoothly. Some are better than others I suppose.

As I am so good at dissecting everyone else in a paragraph or less, what about myself? I often ask myself what I gained when I left the country for the better part of a decade? Well…..that’s a good question.

I have never been an overly happy person. I was not born that way. I have always seen things differently than other people. Sometimes it is an advantage, as I was smart and creative by being able to look at everything from a different angle…however, overall the things I saw did not always seem happy. Life is sort of sad to me. I think if anyone stops to think too much, they would say the same thing.

However, during all those years away and somewhere in those hundreds of books I read I found a way to be basically satisfied with myself. I consider that the major achievement of my life.

In some ways that is a selfish statement….after all, I am saying that MY happiness is among my greatest achievements (even though I cannot sustain it). What about everyone else??? Why not, “The food I gave to the homeless” or “the child I adopted from poverty”??? I am not discounting those things in any way; however I do have a precedent for concern over my own happiness.

It was Jesus and Buddha and every one else who ever made such an impact on mankind that had a similar statement about themselves: “This is how I have become happy and at peace with myself….follow me if you want the same.” It is the greatest gift to have a peace with your life. If you do then there is a chance that you can give it to other people.

Otherwise it is just the misreable giving favors to the misreable. Not that there is no value in that….but certainly it is not the goal.

I have thought of writing a book called the Thirteenth Disciple. Why were there only twelve? The book would be about the thirteenth that wanted to follow Jesus and be one of his chosen followers, but because of some selfishness or defect or lack of committment or simply the want of the number 12…Jesus could not let him. The book would be about the hatred and envy of the thirteenth disciple and the guilt of Jesus for not being able to make him happy.

When people say they would like to be loved and accepted for who they are that is what they are saying: “Please…..I have found a way out of the forest….do not throw me back in alone. This is all I have.”

That is not a figurative statement. It is literal. When your circumstances cause you to reconsider whatever peace you have made with yourself and life……it is asking you to re-evaluate everything.

We are all at a crossroad.

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I’m writing this from work on a Sunday. Without going into the boring details of my job, I will explain that I gave two folks a difficult project with an uncertain outcome but high potential for upside if it works out. It has been hard to provide guidance for them, because I don’t know the answer either. If I did I would certainly tell them how to do it.

I left them alone on it for the most part, since it doesn’t seem right to press on something you’re not sure can work in the first place…..but for about two weeks now they have made pretty much no progress.

I had a meeting with them last friday to talk about what they were doing, what approach they were taking, how they were organizing, what they’d learned, etc…….and found out they were pretty much defeated. They hung their heads while they were talking, had a pouty look on their face, and kept bringing up all the reasons it would never work. And then we would talk for a while about approaches to take but it always got back to them shrugging their shoulders and saying how fruitless the attempt was.

I truly don’t understand that attitude. I think its an interesting project…..anyone can do something that’s already been done, and there is a proven course to take. Its much funner to look at something and go, “What the fuck am I going to do next? I haven’t the slightest idea.” It is so rewarding when you finally do something that other people didn’t think was possible.

I remember the last summer I worked at camp there was this guy that would come and tell the kids this story about how he came to invent this strange game called Zoogle because of a disability that prevented him from playing the games other kids did. The gist is that you threw this padded tube back and forth and could only touch a certain part of it, and there was a scoring system to go along with it. It was actually a really fun, simple game.

Since he invented the game, he was obviously very good at it. In fact part of his story about Zoogle was that he’d never been beaten…ever. Then he would invite someone from the audience to play him in front of everyone and, of course, soundly whip them. He told of how he’d beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger, President Reagan, Shaquille O’Neal, etc, etc.

That sounded like a challenge to me. He came every summer and no one had ever beaten him. I was pretty good, so I played him once at the beginning of the summer and he won easily. That didn’t mean he couldn’t be beaten though. I just wasn’t good enough yet.

So I started training….literally. I told everyone at camp I was going to beat that chump when he came back. I dissected that game. I thought of all the different ways to throw, experimented with new techniques, developed a methodology…..turned the game into a sport. I would handicap myself by only playing with one hand, or playing hopping on one leg. I was a zoogle-ninja.

He also came second session a few weeks after he’d first beaten me and I refused to play him again, because I wasn’t ready yet….still training. I did go watch him make his speech to the kids though……so I could see him play and study what he did.

To make a long story short, I did win at the end of the summer. I beat the handicapped Zoogleman at a game he invented for no other reason except the challenge of doing what no one else had done.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Here I am back at office on a Sunday doing someone else’s work simply because they say it can’t be done. I think I need therapy.

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You know what I’m talking about… leave a message and the person never calls you back. There are also the derivatives: the people who always call when they think it will go to voicemail, and the people who send a text message instead of calling. There are also varying reasons… “I owe the person money” or the “I hate that person now” or the old standby “What a dork!”. But today I want to talk about the “non-caller backers who mean to call back and have nothing particular against you” since they are more of a mystery. Why don’t they call??

I used to ALWAYS call people back. I used to always do alot of things though, and didn’t find myself any better off for it.

So what drives these people to not call back? They like you. They presumably want to talk to you. Maybe they don’t like me though? Hmm….that is a possibility. Certainly it is nothing personal? They can’t possibly know how seldom I shower through the phone. I don’t think I’ve offended them. My deodorant can usually covers that up anyway.

I think alot of it has to do with what I call “life maintenance” activities. After work and eating and traffic and stopping by Target to get extra socks and underwear….then sitting for 10 minutes to rest….then zoning out for an hour, then cleaning up a little, then ironing maybe….then getting tired……well, they just never get around to it. They mean to….and they mean to every single day…and they even feel guilty sometimes when they have a moment, but they don’t generally do it. When they have a “free” moment, they generally just take it, instead of calling another person which is essentially just another thing to do.

So I guess I am just not a high priority for these people? Maybe not. I figure everyone has their “short list”, those people they call back immediately. It may be their immediate family and like two friends from high school or something. The “short list” gets a lot shorter when you have more to do…in fact it may dwindle to no one.

The problem is, even if you want to call these good friends back, the longer you go without talking to them the more time it will take to catch up…..and time is exactly what you don’t have…why you didn’t call them in the first place.

Perhaps we all should all have “briefings” ready, so that we can interact more quickly and thus avoid this problem?? Well, that’s bullshit…..I don’t believe in quality time, more so in quantity time. I only wish we could spend a few crucial moments with people and make the relationship deep and meaningful.

So we all know that I do not like to “hate” on shit. My premise is that if enough people do it, then there is usually (though not always) a good reason for it.

In an ideal world you call back the people you care about in a short, reasonable amount of time… exceptions. Unfortunately we do not live in a world without exceptions. In fact, exceptions drive most of our days.

So if so many people do not call back or do not show up on time….then perhaps my expectations are just off. After all, it is far easier to shift my expectations of the world, than it is shift the world to meet my expectations.

Bottom line: It does no good to hate what is so prevalent. It just makes you hate everything and then you waste your emotional effort….which could be used loving something instead.

So what is the impetus (<-- SAT word) of this post? Grant, where the fuck are you? Can you possibly be so busy that it takes you 8 months or so to call me back? I bet I call you a dozen times before I finally get a reply. Not that I am hating. I still think you’re the best. I know you’ll call me one day. Remember taking the baseball bat to my MIBS desk? Remember spooning Matt in Guadalajara?? Viva Los Arcos!!! Viva Grant!!

P.S. You better make up a really good excuse for not calling me back. WTF??!!??!!?!?

Comments from the peanut gallery? What do you guys think about “people who don’t call people back”?

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I didn’t write that. C. S. Lewis did. But it well describes our daily lives.

I have given alot of thought lately to whether or not I am by nature a happy or a sad person. It is not always correct to divide mankind in half like that….but it is a powerful analogy.

In Plato’s Cave I accepted that the perception of my life is its reality….and that the truth is not always what will please us most.

I grant that my greatest gifts are also my greatest curses, from which I cannot separate myself. I search, it seems, mostly for happiness and contentment…..and only achievement inasmuch as it helps me content myself. I am restless anyway and talk about that alot.

I write about the harshness of work and the injustices of the economy, yet I work hard and defend the advantages of that life to those who question it, since most of them have scarcely seen or experienced the alternative.

I have expressed my fondness for alcohol, the importance of routine and ritual, and my internal rule against questioning reality too much lest I reduce it to nothing.

Everyone knows I don’t watch the news because I think it is all bad, and I read all science and business books/literature. I like all manner of movies, but like those best that end best.

I will usually even come to the defense of pop culture, saying that oversized SUVs are a matter of taste, Britney Spears is a great entertainer even if she is not a great musician, and that only time will tell if Bush is judged a good president even if it is plainly obvious he is a pig-headed dufus today.

I do this simply because the world is full of pop culture and regular people, otherwise it wouldn’t be popular and regular. It is simply unconstructive and serves no end whatsoever to “hate on” what is so prevalent. There is absolutely no effective difference between hating yourself and hating the world. Anyone who hates the world is simply reflecting a hatred of themself.

I do not care whether that last statement is “true” in an objective sense or not……as one that aims for a sliver of happiness and contentment, it doesn’t matter to me.

In essence, I voluntarily and consciously shield myself from naysaying and bad news. I go even a step further and shield myself from negative reality itself….whether it be “true” or not.

In a fit of narcissism I will quote myself, “You will never accidentally end up with more than you have dreamed.” You will never dream anything if you are surrounded by masked hatred. All you see are roadblocks.

So in the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace what do I see?

I see myself.

I see over a decade of fighting my nature, which is brooding, lethargic, and depressive. I see great strides and I see choices.

They say “people can’t change”. I say: You only need one example for something to be possible.

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I will be off to India in about a week. How bizarre to think. How is it that I come back to Atlanta to find myself a regular life….stay for a year, and then find a way to repeat old habits?

I tell myself that going to India is actually a career move, not a personal one…..and I still believe that even as I write it….but something in the back of my head tells me that my conscious mind may be lying to me. My subconscious is aching for a travel fix…like a drug addict, and is feeding my conscious head a load of bullshit to get it to say what it wants. Who knows?? Either way, it seems like I’m going, so quit analyzing it.

Speaking of career, I met with a C-level executive from my company today. He is the global big-wig for our talent and organizational development consulting arm. Their aim is to “make work better”. I would like to do that….in fact that is why I went to work for my company (which I won’t name).

People always say that they want to do something meaningful with their careers, to “make a difference”. I think that is mostly just wishful thinking, as changing things/people is exceedingly difficult to do. In fact, it is a fool’s errand and sets you up for failure.

You can’t save the world. You can only save individual people, and even that potentially takes years. After all, am I so presumptuous as to think that I would even know how to save the world if I took a notion?

And that is how you know you’re on the right track. If you know that you are on a fool’s errand and yet you are willing to do it anyway….then there is no way for you to fail. That is why I think some high and mighty goal like “saving the world” or “making work better” or “inspiring people” is really a good, yet unattainable, mission.

I call those the “willing to go down with the ship” ideas. It is foolish to go down with the ship, but people do it willingly, and can never fail. If they succeed, even mildly, then they have gone beyond themselves. If they fail, which is likely, then at least they went down with the right ship….the one they always knew would go down anyway. If you are “willing to go down with the ship” of your life, then you are on the right track.

At least that is the theory….I wouldn’t suppose you should listen to me though…after all, I just told you that my ship is bound to sink.

So me and this C-level exec hit it off well. He told me the next time I’m interested in a position, to stay in touch with him. I’m guessing his opinion holds some weight. I’m not really impressed with titles….except when it is to my benefit.

Next topic…I’m sorry I haven’t written anything lately. I’ve actually been writing alot…to someone I met online. I have really gotten in over my head on this one…..except that I have a habit of leaving the country just when things are getting interesting….this time is no exception.

I don’t often write about girls. The reason for that is two fold, one reason far outweighing the other one.

1) Least importantly: I think it is private mostly. I am willing to air some fairly private stuff. The thing with girls though is that they have feelings, and when I write on the website it is for me mostly and my small audience….they just want it to be all mushy and sweet….not honest.

So I just don’t say anything at all. I have to explain my behavior too much anyway. No need to add to the misery. I put my foot in my mouth enough as it is; I shouldn’t document it in writing for posterity.

2) This is the real reason I never write about girls: I don’t have anything to say. I have spoken often about my constant mild apathy and disaffection. I am so underwhelmed most of the time that I simply have no comment (which is likely a fault of mine, not theirs).

So….I will just say that this girl has been commanding a lot of my attention lately. I’ve said some really crazy things about her to myself….and oddly enough I’ve said exactly the same things to her. Why can’t I just keep that stuff to myself?

No one wants to know the real me. They just want the me that serves their ends (not that I blame them, the real me gets on my nerves too).

I’ve even learned/confirmed a few things about myself lately, which I am pleased with:

1) I do like certain girls.
2) I am pretty nice to people when I like them.
3) I am really good at reading people’s minds.

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Not many people can review their own thoughts like I can. I have nearly a decade of personal journals and saved emails.

My first saved email at my Yahoo account is from 1998 to

i got this new e-mail address that i can access from anywhere, so I don’t have to have my own computer. you can write me here when I’m in taiwan, or even when i’m travelling if i happen to stop by an internet cafe. call me a fool; i’ve got some news about myself and some young girl that i work with that might interest you. alright, i’m out,


Hey, in 1998 webmail was still pretty new. I seem pretty amazed by it. I have no idea who the “young girl that i work with” is. My memory isn’t what it used to be….and it was never that good.

I remember Billy Joel was talking about playing his old songs live and needing the sheet music. Sometimes he’d read words he’d written and think, “Man, that’s pretty good. I forgot I’d written that.”

That’s the way I feel. I forget some of the stuff I said altogether and with other stuff I think, “I couldn’t have said it better myself…” But I guess I did say it myself.

Here is an excerpt from an email a year later, when I was about to leave Taiwan. I must’ve had a fever or something. I seem sort of frantic.

i am really sick now….the phone went out today and i have spent all morning trying to get it fixed so i can make calls about my tickets and such….the apartment is empty….the flowers are dead in the corner…my eyes water all the time…i think i’m still going into work just because i figure i don’t care and it can’t get any worse…emily asked me some questions about the apartment today when i went to dropped off the homework in Tanshui…the guards want the money for March (fat chance they get that..hehehehe)and she said something about my chinese roommates needed to call about when the lease ends…i don’t care anymore…i think its gonna be ok. maybe she is suspicious…i hope it keeps her up at night…..i’ve taken care of the major things except keeping my bags somewhere. India may be off again because the taj mahal is fucking far from katmandu…maybe i’ll fly..or i’m thinking about going to angor wat in cambodia, but there is civil war..and its hard to cross overland….I spent all day yesterday running around taipei looking at travel books, and cameras…only to buy nothing, all sick, raining….i drank some Starbucks and i think it threw my brain into delirium…i was walking around reminiscing about when i first got here…fuck…..i’ve been here too long..

Man….those were the days…sort of. I was very sick, but somehow I’d worked myself up into a mad pulse of energy….sickness be damned. I had my eye on the goal: Escape. Like the Millenium Falcon from the exploding Death Star.

Fast forward about two years and I wrote this email from Spain. This one is a little different. I not only remember it, but reading the words now makes me remember how I felt, where I wrote it, the day, and what happened after I left.

What an incredibly brief and wonderful focal point this was. It takes the sum of a person’s life to occasionally make one feel that at that moment you are better at being you that you’ve ever been before.

my life just changed again forever…i love it…its quite a long story, i´ll tell you when i get home, but this place has been every bit as good as groningen as far as just having fun, and the life and mood, of course everything from now till forever will far short of holland as far as personal growth and just being at that age, but all the people here are at the age we were then and i saw it happening, the way it is changing their lives, the way they will always remember salamanca, its a beautiful thing…i haven´t been this happy in…..a long time….i´m the funniest i´ve ever been…i laugh all day every day, and there are all these people that laugh with me…..i met a girl even…that is too long to give account of now, but for me to really like a girl after so so long just seeing them as the opposite sex suprised even me, i didn´t know i was still capable. Unfortunately i didn´t meet a friend like good ol´ Pete, but i feel blessed for what i have had. I made A´s and B´s in my
classes..which suprised me too, because i haven´t studied any, unless you count speaking bad spanish, wasted, to some girl at a club at 5 in the morning as practice. I got in at 7am last night, 8 the night
before….i´ve been partying like a rock star, and its been such fun. I´m going to shave my head and catch a bus to morocco tonight at midnight…me, the journal, a few books, and the thought that I´ve done the best i could here…I´m content…I´m younger than I´ve ever
been. For me to say I´ve been lucky is almost blasphemy because i know little of it has been luck, but I´ve been lucky still. Its so hard to recover from the time of your life. the years keep rolling
by, and there is so much for me to miss, because there has been so much for me to love.


It took only a few minutes to write that, but in a hundred tries and a year of revisions I’d never get even close to saying it again quite as perfectly.

My life has come together like that so well only a handful of times. It is the hope that one day I can revisit that feeling that wakes me in the morning.

I always find it really interesting to go back and look at what I was thinking at a certain time. I wouldn’t guess anyone else would though.

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I vaguely remember myself when I used to have that much fun. That guy was mostly a rock star, and did what he wanted when he wanted….and everyone loved him for it.

The difference between that person and me is mostly psychological…but not altogether. Life changes….or perhaps we change and so our life seems to….which still makes the difference mostly psychological I suppose.

Anyway, as I toil away my days in the “real world”, middling about full of energy, bursting at the seams with nervous action of uncertain purpose….I am reminded of this person sometimes…….and wonder what happens that causes me to forget.

I am sure that it is the unrelenting barrage of non-events that makes up my daily life. Simply put, they wear me down….and sap the energy that makes me able to rise up.

Not that I am not full of activity and random achievement. Everyday is full to the brim with a spate of buzzing movement and exhaustive effort. When people ask me to do something, I really do have to check my schedule.

The non-events are like a hail of miniature ice picks, bleeding away my will to do anything but drink a beer and watch some TV….a welcome break from the endless snow storm of my life.

However, there is certainly a degree of romanticism to that person I was. His life was very tiresome and full of questions as well…but at least at the end of all that, although no closer to any answer, my story unfolded a little more….I was a little more myself than I was before.

These days end with me no closer to who I can be. They are spent mostly trying to be a little more of what everyone else already is. I have little to offer to that life.

I was at Ein Gedi in 1996 and was talking to Mark from South Africa, the good Mark, and he told me one night very drunk so I knew it was the truth, “I just want to be somebody. That’s part of why I travel. I want to do something special that makes me different….unique.”

I was really drunk that night too (big surprise) and told him something that is truer now than it was then. I said, “When you’re somebody wanting to be somebody different you do things that no one else does to set yourself apart. When you’re really different, you don’t do different things anymore…all you want to do is feel like everybody else.”

Take a look at the picture. Do any of you guys remember that person?? What would you say to him?

I don’t even know what I would say to him. “Keep going,” perhaps…or maybe, “Grow up you fucking Peter Pan,” but both of those are tough roads to hoe. How do you erase the baggage of your life??

That is a good question.

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Let’s face it. I become easily consumed with doing stuff of no practical purpose that I pursue for no other reason than to become good at it….at which point I no longer do it and pick up something else.

I have repeated this cycle bunches of times. I do it with literary genres, with sports, even people occasionally. I’ve had every hobby from ping pong, to financial markets, from playing music, to illegal substances, from trying to understand theoretical physics, to photography….even to petty thievery in my younger days….thankfully the last one was a short lived hobby, otherwise I’d be in jail.

Lately I suppose my hobby has been work. I treat it like all the rest of the junk in many respects. I liked it all the more because they said I was bad at it when I started. I find that funny.

One of my favorite and most enduring hobbies is singing. My dad can’t carry a tune and my mom thinks she can sing…but really she can’t (which reminds me of someone else I know —> ME). So I kept doing it…for years really, all the while knowing I have no inborn talent. I find it comforting to know I am bad at something and have become barely proficient only through years of practice. Singing is one of the things I’m proudest of….even though certainly not one of the things I’m best at.

I also think it is strange that I call them all hobbies….even work. I don’t really DO anything it seems. Although, at any given time, I am always DOING something…..I guess sort of implying that the hobbies are part time gigs in support of the real purpose…..but if they are all hobbies then I’m not really doing them in support of anything.

I’m a full time hobbyist.

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I often wonder why I bother.

The entire United States seems perfectly willing to drown themselves in an ocean of overwork. Who am I to tell an entire country it is wrong??

Actually, I often wonder that. But real passion is not logical. It is its own justification. And so I continue, and will do so until I die because that is who I am.

I am going to share this email I got today. I have more than a few that echo these same sentiments and would like to thank those that feel moved to write. If I achieved nothing else through this website, it would be enough.

From: “Russ Strong”
Subject: Stumbled across
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 11:06:47 -0700

Hi Elliott,

The other day I stumbled upon your site, I’m not actually sure how, but it had something to do with me looking for travel information. Anyway, I’m glad I did because you’ve kept me occupied for quite some time now. It’s great reading your stuff, because for the most part I agree with your theories and observations about life, work/balance, misplaced American ideals, over consumption, etc, etc.

Every now and then I get so used to just living a life of working, reading, learning, sleeping, eating, and trying to have some fun that I forget what’s really important. Then usually I find something, in this case your site, and it reminds me.

The great thing about reading some of your writings is that it puts into words a lot of my own personal views, which you do much better and more concisely than I could ever do myself. I’m not really a writer, or even a thinker, I just usually have these half thoughts that end up circulating in my head.

Most of the people I know, co-workers, family, and friends, seem to just live their lives without questioning. And they are either content with the way things are, or they are too lazy to care about not being content. Most of them I think are the same, and I guess what sets them apart from people like you or me is that they are happy to have their jobs and afraid that they will lose them and then have nothing.

And it becomes part of who they are. To me my job is simply a semi enjoyable way to live a life of financial stability, and if things came crashing down I would just find something else. Whether it was still in the tech field or not I don’t think I would care. I’ve worked in construction and enjoyed it just as much, just with less money.

I admit that in itself is a bit of a compromise to who I am, but it’s like you’ve said, without work there is plenty of time, but then there’s not the money to enjoy the the other things.

So it comes to the balance issue. The one thing about me is that I fear being unstable, so I’ve built my life in the present to be a balance of what I “need” to do to provide a sense of security for myself, while still in other areas managing to be true to myself.

One of the things that sometimes makes difficult is that I’m currently living in San Diego, and if you’ve ever been here, I’m sure you’ve seen that it, and all of southern California in general, is the epitome of everything that’s “wrong” with American life; materialism, over consumption, greed, inequality, living beyond your means.

But on the other hand, having grown up in New England, it’s almost refreshing in a way compared to how close minded and “normal” everyone is back there. People here seem to be ok with things, and I guess that’s their perogative. Probably because they think it’s normal to never let go of their cell phone and have massive debt and bills, but hey they look good and drive nice cars.

The thing that makes it easier to handle is that I know my time here is limited. My girlfriend (who I happened to meet out here and is one of the reasons my 3+ years here have been so great) and I have decided that when she finishes her college work that we will do a bit of unscripted travel ourselves. I kind of got caught up after college with moving straight into the “real world”, so I am certainly looking forward to it. Although through college I got to do a bit of traveling, mostly in the States and England, it was nothing compared to what you’ve done and what we’re looking forward to doing.

Well, I guess I’ve rambled enough for a letter to someone who I don’t even know. It was just very refreshing to find your site, because every now and then I start to feel like I’m the only one who thinks most of what goes on in our society is just a bunch of BS. Which I guess is a bit hypocritical of me since I’m part of it, but anyway I guess the fact that I question and have made a conscious decision to do so makes it somewhat ok.

Take care,

People sometimes ask me what I learned when I was traveling. At the top of the list is this one great lesson: You change someone’s life forever every single day.

I take responsibility for that.

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Tonight I got my resume out and started updating it. That is sad. Of course, I haven’t applied for any jobs yet, and I may not…..but dusting off the resume is a step.

Actually it took me longer than I had expected it would. In a life full of time horizons that rarely spanned more than a few weeks, three months isn’t all that bad.

Am I dissatisfied in my current position? No, not really. I am just not as satisfied as I could be. Everything in me tells me I am supposed to do more.

They say those that achieve the most are not the most talented, nor even those with the most connections, but those that want the most and will not accept less. You’ll never accidentally end up with more than you have dreamed. I believe that.

Anne used to say, “Sometimes good enough is good enough.” Not for me. It never has been and frankly, though I try to accept good enough, not even in my head can I agree that it is true.

In recent years the more I have tried to make myself accept average (and believe me I have tried)….the more I find that I am not that person. It is a battle with myself that I always lose. I don’t even like slightly above average all that much.

Only in my less energetic moments can I even agree in theory that it is true. It is those shy ideas and small dreams that keep us bogged down…unable to rise above the pettiness that marks so many of our days. We aim too low.

That is because most people have never seen an alternative. It is the creation of, or even the contribution towards, that alternative that wakes me in the morning.

Surround yourself with the right people and the impossible becomes simply what others have never seen before.

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