30 Lessons from a Year of Goal Setting and Risk Taking
16. Life isn’t a checklist, but rather a series of stories that help us make sense of the world (Drive a bulldozer). I don’t consider this a year of 30+ things I checked off in life. I consider it 30+ stories that pushed my boundaries, challenged my world views, taught me lessons, and gave me new hobbies and skills.
17. Disconnecting from the World Wide Web helps me better connect with the world around me (Tidepooling in Hawaii). The last couple years has seen me take a few unplugged trips each year. Without them, I couldn’t work in travel like I do. These continue to refresh me and give me perspective like no other trips do. I don’t work on these trips and rarely write about them, but each time I go, I come back a different person than who I left as.
18. My love for certain destinations more than others has more to do with the people than the place itself (Learning to play ukulele on the Hawaii island of Lanai). There are some destinations, like Hawaii, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland, and Costa Rica, that just resonate with me more than others. The aura and stories of the people leave a lasting impression that a photo can only scratch the surface of.
19. I’m a pretty good shot (UTVing and learning to shoot skeet on the Hawaii island of Lanai). One of the last times I ever shot a gun was when I was a kid. I inadvertently shot myself in the finger with a BB gun and had to go to the ER to have it removed. Needless to say, I was hesitant when “skeet shooting” was recommended to me on the island of Lanai. After leaving the experience having shot 85% of my targets, I’m feeling pretty good when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.
20. I long for a sense of home (Attend the taping of a primetime television show, Sing Off, in Los Angeles). I have never felt the feelings toward a place like I do Los Angeles. I feel like all of my travels, both short- and long-term, have led me to this home that I now call L.A. I have friends who are like family, a bar that knows my name, a 7-Eleven that I’m on a first-name basis with, a porch with a rocking chair, and a city I enjoy dating in (when “dating” means “going on more first dates than second dates”). What more could I ask for?
21. I’ve yet to arrive (Sleep in a castle…in Scotland). And I hope there is never a day that I feel like I have arrived. I hope that on my best and worst days, that I continue to see the world and life as the teacher, and I as the student. This last year has only continued to make me wide-eyed and curious, eager to see more, and become more self-aware, and less self-involved.
22. Every Kobe Bryant needs a Shaq (Take a falconry class…in the U.K.). I am nothing without my friends. I truly believe in surrounding myself with people who are better than me, and I feel like I must have done that to be so grateful and inspired by those friends. I truly believe we need people who we not only share our successes with, but also our failures, because when we’re weak, they’re strong for us. Could I be any cheesier? In seriousness, I’m thankful for friends who have been my wingmen, who have told me when I’m being irrational, and who have inspired me. I’m sorry for the times y’all told me what I should do, and I did the opposite, and you were right. And for the times y’all told me what to do, and I did the opposite, but I was right, well I’m not sorry for those.
23. Finding out who I am often begins with finding out who I’m not (Climbing a volcano…in Scotland). There are some things that I just can’t do. I can’t play tennis worth a damn, but I’m a damn good ping-ponger (word?). I can’t ski, but I’m now a snowboarder. I’m a better kayaker than stand up paddle boarder. These aren’t things I’d know if I didn’t give it at least a shot.
24. My past doesn’t define me, yet is a bridge to my future (Visit my motherland of Scotland). This year I visited Scotland, and I’m not sure any destination has left such an indelible mark as Scotland did. There was something about discovering my roots and understanding my past that connected with me on a more personal level than any other destination. For that reason alone I’ll be returning to Scotland.
25. Sometimes I need to just take a knee, rather than going for the Hail Mary (Attending my first MLS game in Seattle). One of the things I’ve learned is my limits, and the importance of being careful how much I push the envelope. As ambitious and motivated as I am, there are days and times when I just have to call it a day, take a walk in my neighborhood, go for a walk by myself, watch a Lord of the Rings marathon, or just sit on my porch with a six pack. It’s not slothfulness or laziness. It’s what I need, and it’s often a rare moment when my brain turns off.
26. I am the best version of myself when I’m traveling (Dog sledding in Alberta, Canada). Who I come back as, is never who I left as. It’s for this reason, that I’ll never cease to travel. Planes, distant cultures, amidst foreign languages, outside of my comfort zone. This is where I thrive. Travel changes me.
27. What Americans call, “Polar Vortex,” they call, “winter,” in Canada (Walking on water-or ice- in Alberta, Canada). It’s hard for me to put into words how cold it was in Canada. It was so cold, that I was able to make snow out of hot water. It was so cold, that during broad daylight, it took three minutes outside until I started losing feeling in my hands and had to put mittens on (yes, I really wore mittens). It was so cold, that in the rooftop hot tub, my hair (not hell) started to freeze over. But, I’m now a winter sports convert. Who wants to learn how to snow kite with me?
28. My worst travel day is better than many people’s best day (Learning to snowboard in Alberta). I don’t say that to brag or hold that over anyone. Rather, I say it to put things in perspective for me, so that I’m careful how I carry myself when I travel. I try to keep complaints about travel to a minimum and trust the process, be it a problem at the rental car counter, waiting in security, or a grounded flight. Travel is a gift, and the day it ceases to be a gift and becomes something I feel like I’m entitled to, then travel has lost its purpose.
29. Non-conformity is contagious (Visit a new continent, Asia). I don’t want people to walk away from my blog merely inspired to travel more or to create a bucket list. I want them to be inspired to go, and to go in whatever way that means. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “The great affair is to move.” But we often need just one person. One person who we can relate to. One person who can inspire us. One person who can tell us that our idea isn’t crazy, but should be acted on. One person to tell us not to conform, but to do what we want to. If one person is inspired by me to go against the grain, take some risks, and follow it through, then I’ll feel like I had contributed in making the world a better place. What the world needs is more people doing things that make them come alive, because in coming alive, others follow suit.
30. Time is life’s currency (Go to Disneyland in Orange County). Time is all we’ve got, and one day, like money, we’ll realize that we don’t have as much as we thought we did. I want to live my life in a way that when that moment comes, I’ll hold my head up proudly, without any regrets, and say that I took life by the horns and gave it my best shot. And while there may have been failures and things I could’ve done differently along the way, I won’t shrink back, but like Hunter S. Thompson, be able to say that, I came skidding through the journey of life in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up and worn out, proclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!”
My life imbibing and traveling around the world started early, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by myself for the first time at seven. Two decades later and little has changed, though I’ve replaced my notebook, disposable camera, and bottle of coke for a laptop, DSLR, and bottle of whiskey. Having my work featured in publications like National Geographic, AFAR Magazine, Outside Magazine, Los Angeles Times, MSN, and Yahoo, I cover all things travel, food, and drinks here on Whiskey Tango Globetrot. Find out more about me and WTG here.