My life has been a string of blessings in disguise. Yes, it’s extremely difficult to immediately see good in bad. But I’m a firm believer that everything in this universe happens for a reason.
My latest disguised blessing came almost two years ago when I lost my job.
I was the assistant world editor at the Miami Herald, a respected daily newspaper in the state of Florida in the United States. The Miami Herald is one of those newspapers with a great journalistic tradition of uncovering truth and bringing great stories to readers. Unfortunately like so many newspapers in the United States, it is going through some hard times with the advent of the Internet, where people can get their news and other information for free. So the Herald began a series of layoffs, with hundreds of employees – I among them – losing their jobs. Rather than freaking out about my sudden state of unemployment, I packed up and went to Europe for three months. Europe was part work, part break from it all. It was during that time last summer that I began to think about traveling around the world.
I had thought about a world journey many years before, but never very seriously. After all, I loved my job as a journalist and in America we only get three or four weeks vacation time. How could I quit such a great gig to go bouncing around the world?
Well, no longer tied to an office and a desk, I began to see the possibilities as I entered a new phase of my life as an independent journalist. Now more than ever – in this disastrous global economy – seemed like the perfect time to pull up stakes and go. And so here I am, less than a month away from the start of my journey. I see it as a real opportunity to breach that invisible fence that keeps so many of us from pursuing our dreams. In some way, a job can be a prison – if we allow it to be. We hate being there. We cherish the time we’re not there. We can’t wait to retire – to go on vacation. I say why wait until half your life is over to live your life like to the fullest?
Vita Brevis – Life is Short! Those unseen fences also serve to keep people around the world apart. In my travels, I will live with locals. Eat what they eat. Drink what they drink. Share their joys and their pains. This journey is not a marathon. It’s a journey of discovery. I want to learn from the people I meet. I want to get to know them. I want them to get to know me. I want to make friends with people on every continent. I will couchsurf. It’s one of the best ways I know to meet strangers and leave them as friends.
In planning it, I first thought it would be a one-year trip. That quickly grew to two years with the realization that I simply could not see and do it all in that amount of time. Then as I planned further, it was even clearer that two years was not enough, if I wanted to do this trip my way – slow and easy largely by ground transport, meeting and living with locals along the way. Yes, the tourist sites are on my list, but this journey is largely about connecting with people. And reconnecting with friends across the globe. I am excited about this journey, which begins in Bogota, Colombia, and is scheduled to end in 2013 in New York City. Meet me in Central Park? 🙂
Three years is a long time, people keep telling me. Maybe so. One year at a time is what I say. One year at a time.