Adventure means taking chances

Tomorrow morning Dachary and I will be climbing on our motorcycles and setting off for an epic adventure lasting nearly four months and over 17,000 miles. The goal is to drive south from Boston MA, USA until we reach the most southerly city on the planet: Ushuaia Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. I can’t wait. Usually when we tell people their first reaction is “Be careful in Mexico.” Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, rebels living in the jungle… not a concern. But Mexico! OMG Flee. The fact that millions of US Citizens cross into Mexico, shop, and relax just south of the border without harm is irrelevant. Some Mexican citizens have been kidnapped, and held for ransom. Some Mexican businesspeople have been extorted. Some US citizens have been kidnapped but most of them are hispanic and there have been

“very few cases where a tourist is targeted at random,” said Eric Drickersen, who supervises the FBI’s border liaison office in San Diego.

More importantly, most of this stuff seems to be happening close to the US/Mexico border; a place we intend to spend only as long as it takes us to get through customs and head south. We’ve got better things to see than Gringo tourist traps. So, I appreciate the concern, really I do. But, if you’re gonna worry, worry about bigger things. Like breaking a bones in the middle of nowhere, being forced off a cliff-side road with no railings, getting Malaria, being stopped by rebels is south-west Colombia. Me, I’m not actually worried about any of that. It’s all possible. But, worrying about it does’n’t help at all. If anything it makes it worse by stressing you out. But, I am slightly worried about one thing: coming back. You see, I am officially unemployed. When I planned this thing I was under the impression I’d be able to get unpaid leave from my employer, but that fell through in the end, and when given the choice of continuing to sit in a cubicle and continue doing the same tasks I’ve been doing for fifteen years, and getting on a motorcycle and exploring the world for four months, possibly returning home completely broke… well, that’s not much of a choice at all. I mean really. A person has to have their priorities straight. And living in fear of not having money is not a very high priority for me.

“Ooh Can I?! Can I please continue to live a mundane existence so as to make sure I receive another paycheck that allows me to continue to live a mundane existence? Please please?!”

Fuck that noize.

My coworkers gave me a going away party, which I am very thankful for. But, one of the most memorable parts of that was speaking with a coworker about The Adventurists. The Adventurists offer a number of great adventure packages that you should definitely check out, and spend some time daydreaming about. One of the most popular is the Rickshaw Run. They provide you with a “rickshaw” (basically an old vespa with 3 wheels, a windshield, and an open body welded to it) that is not even remotely designed for thousands of miles of driving, almost guaranteed to give you problems at some point along the way, and an a route across India that will take you about two weeks to complete, with essentially no support from them.

Ill-advised, uncomfortable, impractical, dangerous, pointless, furstrating, unreliable, unstable, stupid, painful, all great things that make the rickshaw the ultimate all terrain machine. - The Adventurists

If it was easy it’d just be a pretty ride, but breaking down in the middle of Inda and having to figure out how to fix it… that would be something to tell your friends about. That’s an adventure.

My coworker thought the idea was wonderful, but he had a baby about a year ago, and simply couldn’t do something like that because he had responsibilities. But, his stay-at-home wife is smart, and surely could take care of the baby for two weeks without him, he’d be gone on paid vacation, and the chances of dying are really no higher than they are here at home…

The point is, we build these mental cages for ourselves. “Oh I’d love to do that but I can’t because…” This seems especially true of people with children, but the best gift you can give a child, your partner is happiness, and happiness doesn’t come from a paycheck. We were poverty-level poor for much of my childhood, but my mom did what made her happy, kept us fed and clothed, and did whatever she could to make me happy too. You think I would have cared if she’d left me with Dad for two weeks while she went and had an adventure? Hell no. And, in the years that followed I would have wonderful tales of far off places. When I was a baby she took me to the Grand Canyon. Rode down into it on a donkey. I don’t remember a second of it, but I remember the story, and her telling me how wonderful it was.

Unless you’re in prison there is nothing keeping you from having an adventure. When you look back at your life do you want to see a life spend primarily in a cubicle, a few hours with your friends and family each day before going to bed, and if you’re lucky some time on the weekend squeezed in between all the errands you couldn’t do during the week?

I don’t care what anyone says. That is not a life well spent. I don’t care if that cubicle dwelling allowed you to put your kid through school. You barely get a chance to see them, and you sacrificed your own happiness to do so. Lots of people enjoy their jobs, but few of them think spending 40+ hours a week sitting in a cube staring at a screen is a good life. I love coding, but I want to look back at my life and feel that I lived it, that I did something memorable, and special with it. Sitting in a cube staring at a screen is neither memorable, nor special.

The job I just quit was an excellent one, surrounded by good people, but it did not make for a life well spent. It did, however, provide me with the means to make a good start on one.

We’ll be documenting the adventure on I invite you to follow our adventures, and start figuring out how to have your own. Life is too short to spend it all at work. Make it memorable. Make it fun. Make yourself happy.