I haven’t written in three months. I’ve been rusty, uninspired, working long hours, and fairly normal. Physically, mentally, financially, emotionally I have been sharp. But I haven’t spiritually showered for a long time. I considered getting a motorcycle to reverse this problem. I considered going on weekly long hikes. I considered picking up myriad hobbies. I considered (and probably will) paddle boarding the entire 300 miles of the White River. I have considered probably thirty minor changes to invite a flame to my life. I was in a nasty slump of desperation.
I have the next step of my life figured out. I’m spending this post explaining how I got to that point and the exhilarating feelings associated with each step. I often refer to myself as being in the “Idea Generation Phase” and, though it’s fairly self-explanatory, I have been asked what that mind space is like for me.
There are three phases: Idea Generation Phase, Deconstruction, and Execution. In the Idea Generation Phase you find the next big step in life or solution to a problem. There has only been one person that I have truly cared for and felt an incredible connection with. That feeling of shared vulnerability and intimate trust is a rush that gives unending butterflies in the stomach. That same giddy butterfly-feeling is where I’m at now. I have this feeling every time I churn out my next big plan. It’s the feeling of overwhelming purpose: I have a puzzle intentionally in shambles in front of me and I get to figure it out.
Consider “Imagination” as a person in my brain, the same as Joy of Inside Out. Imagination runs my brain, side by side with Curiosity, Determination, Hope, and Risk. While working in the Idea Generation Phase, when Ideas churn out, Imagination gets a trophy. That’s an everyday kind of occasion for small, usually irrelevant discoveries. For bigger, life altering Ideas like the one I’ve come up with, Imagination goes into sheer paralyzing ecstasy. This is what I’ve been experiencing all week due to the Idea that I recently churned out.
In Deconstruction all sorts of considerations are made. Curiosity chimes in often and with force; Determination keeps Curiosity focused; Hope balances out Risk when Imagination gets rolling. The puzzle comes together: what gear do I need? How long will this take? Do I even want a budget on my time or will this be a trip of indefinite length? If this is the lifestyle that I’m okay with, will my future wife feel the same way? Or will I even be able to meet her living this way? If this is indefinite, is this nomadic lifestyle the way of life that I’m happy with long-term? What is financially required for a trip like this? Who can I benefit doing this? Do I take this trip for a cause? What are the legitimate dangers? What are the highly unlikely, but possible dangers? Are these dangers things that I’m willing to possibly confront? How do I learn everything about these rare types of dangers like losing a passport or getting run aground by barges or getting mugged in Asia? Where should I plan to go? Do I open this trip up to other people or is this a solo mission?
In Deconstruction mode, thorough research is paramount. Deconstruction mandates that at all times there is a goal. I never do anything without a very specifically outlined expectation – that’s Hope talking. There’s a high that occurs when you are actively learning everything about the thing that you love. The Deconstruction phase is anticipation and intentional grappling with all the problems; it’s educating; it’s a real-life game of What If. This phase is usually the longest of the three, but Execution may be longer depending on the scale of the goal.
If Deconstruction is putting the puzzle together then Execution is jumping into the puzzle and living out the idea. Execution is a coherent embrace of oftentimes dangerous, risky, murky, desperate situations. Best-case scenario: Execution is letting the plans of Deconstruction flow as planned. I refuse to call it “worst case scenario” because it’s equally intoxicating and addicting when something goes wrong, so “Alternative Case Scenario”: shit happens and life happens and you just have no idea how to get out of a situation. Gotham is falling and Batman is broken. How do you move forward? The end product is called Execution. The response to mental frenzy, desperation, utter fear, complete skepticism, and foreign danger is the Execution phase.
Most of our lives are very predictable. You wake up, get ready, drive to work, be bored out of your mind, drive home, eat frozen pizza, pay interest on your credit card loans and wish you never went to school because you’re $9 million dollars in debt, go to bed. Tell me. How hard is that? Truly, what kind of decisions do you make every day that cause you to really scratch your head? None.
Imagine your bus that is taking you from rural af Nepal across the border into India breaks down. You don’t know the language. You don’t have a map and even if you do, you have no idea where you are and even if you do, you have no clue how to get where you’re going. Imagine that a local man with a sliced open ear who has been drinking heavily on the bus invites you in severely broken English to his house an hour away on the back of his motorcycle. You go into Idea Generation Phase – figure out an idea to fix this situation.
Any problem that arises in our daily lives, we have very good schema to draw from to develop and map out solutions. Problem: you’re hungry. Solution: eat. Problem: you’re running late for work. Solution: leave earlier tomorrow. Problem: your girlfriend thinks you don’t listen to her. Solution: make her dinner, buy her flowers wine, and shut up. These kinds of problems never require stepping foot into the Idea Generation Phase…which is precisely where I draw thrill in life from. The standard lifestyle is boring precisely because it doesn’t ever require me to move into Idea Generation Phase. Not knowing how to leave a country because you passport is lost or stolen….there is simply no possible way to have any experience on how to get out of this situation….time for Idea Generation Phase….time for a thrill.
The theme of this blog is to travel roadless. I have literally traveled roadless in a kayak, but I’ve all along been encouraging (and hopefully inspiring) a Travel Roadless kind of lifestyle. Cliché alert! …Get off the beaten, worn down, well-traveled road. Make a new path. Encounter problems and find creative solutions. Utilize your brain, because if you have a 9 to 5 then the chances are probably pretty high that you’re not using your brain. Force yourself into the Idea Generation Phase because that’s where the meat of life is. Be Wild. Be Free.
Stay tuned. My idea will go live later this week.
Unless you call attention
to your presence
who will know you’re there?
Even a country
has to weave and wave a flag
as proof of its existence.
– Rod McKuen