Why the “Seductive Life”?
The life I live, this life I love, is wonderful, beautiful and astonishing beyond anything I imagined possible as a kid. At the same time it is difficult, painful and challenging. I would have it no other way. All the glory and horror mix together to create a life that has me thoroughly seduced. It is, to me, a highly seductive life.
My name is David. I have lived two lives.
In my first life I lived the standard story. You know the one, the implicit story of society that tells us how we should live our lives. In the United States of America, the country of my birth, it goes something like this: Start with grade school, then off to university; graduate from university and find a career; work hard and in your spare time find love and get married; buy a house; continue to work hard while saving money for retirement; retire and, finally, have fun!
I was living this life and had everything planned out until that magical day of my retirement which, thanks to a great career, I fully expected to come early. I had bought a house and was looking for that amazing woman to share my life with.
Then one day in July 2006 my life shattered. The life I had built turned out to be brittle and unsupportable. It should have been a wake-up call. But instead I thought to myself, “I’m just doing it wrong….I merely need to try harder, plan more carefully!” Yet galvanized as I was to rebuilding that ideal life, I could no longer quite be satisfied with the life society told me I should life.
I am not certain when exactly it happened, but I remember thinking one day, “Is this it? This life of….mediocrity? This life that is, in every important way, the same as the life everyone else lives? What if I were to do something different, perhaps travel the world? Impossible! Inconceivable! But…. What If?”
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931 – 1934:
Five years passed with a slow but steadily increasing determination to make a change yet it never quite happened. Then suddenly on 14 June 2011 I left my entire life behind to travel the world. Until that day I walked out the door at the end of a contract I was was not at all certain I was truly leaving on this adventure yet somehow I made the choice to go. All I knew at the time was that I had a motorcycle packed with my worldly possessions and an open road ahead of me. Little did I know how completely my life was changing as I walked out the door that fateful day.
“If you really want fundamental change, you have to change everything. Every great life has had in it a great renunciation.”
Zan Perrion, Morton Hake Summit 2012
That day I walked away from everything. I had sold my house a few months ago along with almost everything I owned. The few possessions remaining to me I had little attachment to except for a guitar which represented as much money as my love for music. I walked away from all my friends and family, not even knowing if I would ever see them again. I walked away from a career I had worked in for eleven years and a job which I loved even as it killed me. I walked away from a paycheck that may have left me a millionaire in a few more years. I walked away from all safety provided by insurance and government. I walked away from my own country and everything that was familiar in my life.
I walked away from all of this and more for a dream: Travel around the world on my motorcycle, a journey which could take months if I am quick about it or years if I begin to explore off the direct route of the journey.
Most of a year later I am sitting on a beach in Peru with a broken rib and torn muscles between the ribs. It is a time of agony and reflection. I realized on that beach how completely a renunciation of my previous life I had made. I had wiped the slate clean to begin again. It was a moment as in the Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo two pills. On one hand I have the blue pill. My previous life. It would be ever so easy to step back into that life and the past year would fade away to be forgotten as an idle whim. On the other hand I have the red pill. Continue to travel, continue to explore the world. Find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
There was never a moment of doubt, never a hint of hesitation. I had no clue what I would find on the open road ahead or if I even wanted to continue to travel but I knew to the very core of who I am that I did not want to go back to the life I had led before. I did not really understand why I was making this decision, merely that it was the correct decision to make.
The renunciation was complete; it was on that beach in Peru that I was reborn into a new life. A life of beauty, adventure, hardship, passion, despair, love, heartbreak, pain, romance, joy, sorrow and happiness. A life where I own what I can carry on my back, or at times on a motorcycle. A life where money means nothing except as a necessity required of me by others. A life where I can be truly and authentically myself without reservation and without limit. A life where I am truly alive!
I am walking this new path in life blind. No plans and no expectations. Each day an adventure, each day a gift of delight and wonder. I have only the guiding light of my dreams and my passions: To be free and to live life to its fullest, to celebrate the beautiful women I meet and to share with the possibilities of what life can be! I may fail yet if I do it will be gloriously.
I would have it no other way.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” speech in Paris, France, 23 April 1910