Travel Roadless Defined

[A quick update on my polyphasic napping: I’m failing miserably. Night after night I cannot seem to wake myself up (nor can anybody else) from my 20-minute naps after 24 waking hours. I’m taking a temporary hiatus from this project since tonight is July 4th and festivities will be had. I’m considering other tactics to bring my body to an intentional state of sleep deprivation. Nonetheless, I feel that I’m failing in terms of not achieving my goal (a mere two total hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle), but I am still only sleeping 4 hours per day – significantly less than the ~7 hours that I had been averaging for 2 months prior to self-experimentation. Anyway, now on to the real post…]

For the past six years I’ve been headed somewhere. But that somewhere has always been largely undefined. I studied at Bellarmine University in Louisville freshman year of college as an attempt to leave home fresh out of high school. I then joined the seminary with hopes of growing in and mastering spirituality. I flirted with the idea of dropping out of college to pursue manual labor on an oil rig on the Gulf Coast. I traveled to many parts of the country during each summer to capitalize on my internal crave for risk, newness, and clarity. The day after I graduated college, I booked a one-way flight to Nepal, then traveled to India, and eventually settled in Vietnam. I returned home for a beautiful woman. For the following year I jumped between jobs, filing nine separate W-2’s. I eventually nestled into the most difficult job I have had teaching inner-city, underserved third graders at Enlace Academy on the Westside of Indianapolis.

I’m very self-aware – almost to the point of self-consciousness – that my interests are sporadic. While it makes for a sometimes-stressful discernment, I revel in the greyness of ambiguity. It makes me original and engaged in life. Enlace Academy has four pillars: Grit, Self-control, Zest, and Curiosity. At Enlace I learned a valuable lesson from these character strengths; I believe that we’re naturally inclined toward one, maybe two, of these characteristics; the finest people we’ve been exposed to have maximized all four of these qualities.

Steve Jobs demonstrated zest for life as he worked to marry technology and science with beauty and aesthetics. He executed grit while working diligently to overcome adversity in the early years of Apple in his parents’ garage and later when he was fired from his own company. Jobs proved self-control as he made well thought out and calculated risks while not flirting with greed. Finally, Steve Jobs’ curiosity was unrivaled as he strove to create and perfect something more radical than anything else created in human history.

If you don’t favor Steve Jobs, sub him out for Pope John Paul II, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, St. Paul, Ghandi, or any other legend.

Should I strive to be Steve Jobs? No. Should I strive to master the same characteristics that he practiced, developed, executed? Absolutely. I’m naturally inclined toward Zest and Curiosity. I am also fully aware of my lack of Grit and Self-control.

Knowing this, a dear friend, Jason Taulman, and myself are seeking to learn and improve our respective weaknesses by way of an extended outdoor adventure. As the blog title insinuates, we will, of course, travel roadless – quite literally. In 34 days our goal is to conquer 1400 miles on the Great Mississippi River. We will man our own kayaks as we travel from the White River (south of Indianapolis, in our backyard) to the Wabash River, which will bring us to the Ohio River and finally spitting us out onto the Mississippi.

When I returned back to the good ole U.S. of A. from Vietnam I entered by way of Detroit, but immediately boarded a flight to New Orleans, LA. I met up with Jason where he was finishing his fall semester of teaching at Our Lady of Prompt Succor – an underserved, inner city Catholic school – for the completion of his Master’s of Education from the University of Notre Dame. As he finished the last ten days of school, I spent time in NOLA and grew as close as I could to a city in ten days: I had lunch with homeless men, talked with nuns in a grocery store, experienced Bourbon Street, indulged in delicious, local seafood, and absorbed the flavors of drive-thru daiquiri stands. This is the beautiful city that we will end our trip down the Mississippi.

This project is not a vacation. We will be working hard – self-propelling 15-foot kayaks through one of the most powerful rivers in the world for 10-12 hours per day for 30+ days, averaging 40 miles of paddling per day. This is a project of self-discovery. This project is bigger than Jason and Josh.

We will continue to update you on our preparations and journeys via this blog and my Twitter feed.

If you want to help fund this trip, please get ahold of me through Twitter, Facebook, or by commenting on a blog post.

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