I tapped on her shoulder. She turned around, smiled, and I pulled her in for a hug. Then I shook her hand. A proper introduction was necessary, she said. The night that followed on that gulf beach led into an odyssey of adventure. I had never known the charm and comfort of sleeping in a car in a dead parking lot. Nor had I known the sting of sand fleas so intimately.
It was shortly after this fling that I said goodbye. I traveled to California, to see my family, then to Maryland, my semi-permanent home. Arriving in Maryland, I took time to adapt myself. I learned the ins and outs of my work, of military life. At some point in that process, everything changed. I decided that I no longer wanted to search for happiness.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it really is the key to happiness. Don’t look for it. I realized that nothing external could give me rich, lasting happiness. Nothing could give me satisfaction, other than allowing myself to have it for free.
This can, naturally, be a difficult thing to do. Many of us are caught up in the external world; we are so intimately attached to material things. To extricate ourselves would seem impossible. I am not asking that we separate ourselves completely. I am not recommending to go off the grid, or live the rest of your days as some mountain man übermensch. I only ask that you try to be happy.
Take all of the worries in your mind. Acknowledge them, and give them care. But after that, tuck them away for now. Focus on your immediate environment. Focus on your body. Ask yourself what small things you can do, right now, to push yourself forward.
Once you have done this, you should feel a sort of calm. This is the calm of being present. And this calm, this content happiness, is constantly achievable.
I allowed myself to be happy. And over time, this happiness compounded itself. I pushed my circle of influence forward and out. I made new friends everywhere, it seemed to happen naturally. My relationships with old friends grew stronger, richer. Over time, I felt myself become no longer stifled. I could express myself freely, with no narrow filter of anxiety.
Around the same time this happened, I took a trip to a bookstore. In the back of the building–with books on economics and Eastern spirituality piled around me–I found a copy of The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. The title intrigued me. Over the course of a week, I spent my late nights reading it. I have a great deal of admiration for Mr. Ferris. He and his book, as I’m sure they have done to others, changed my paradigm completely. In the span of a week, my dreams changed: I no longer wanted to work for a fortune. I no longer wanted to work until I died.
Instead, I decided, I would become a vagabond. And I will become a vagabond. And I have a plan to do so.
The world stands ready, as always, to host the eager traveler. There are so many who see travel as a high dream, an end goal. As something forever out of reach. But it is not. All that stands to hold one back is the motivation to create change in one’s life. To throw away the old rules, and create new ones.
With this new resolution, added to my list of personal promises, I make one more: I will be completely mobile by age 25. I look forward to sharing it with you.