here are gazillions of possibilities for you. For me, I’ve held a baby lion cub and floated above a manatee while it ate sea grass. Not in the same day or on the same continent, but they’ve both happened. Also, there was lunch on the Eifel Tower and dinner on a rice terrace. Glacier hikes. Shipwreck dives. Rain forest sleeps. Driving on the other side of the road and falling in love on the lower half of the planet. And those comprise just the tip of a brain-altering mountain of experiences I’ve had—39 countries worth to be exact—but the real mindblower is my bank account. It has an extremely average amount of money in it.
I’m not wealthy or poor. I’m a middle class American—not special, and special at the same time.
But what makes me slightly not average is that instead of sitting at my desk and wondering what it would be like to live on a rugged, tropical island, unplugging from the life that made me feel like I was missing something, I reacted to my itch. I left my desk and scratched the hell out of the possibilities available to me around the world. I adventured—movie style—and I lived on that island, damn it. I went semi-feral.
And there’s the kicker.
Most people think if you do that, if you TOTALLY LET GO AND JUST DO ALL THAT CRAZY SHIT YOU DAYDREAM ABOUT, then you cross a bridge that gets burned to the ground one minute after your last footstep exits its rickety boards. There is no return to your old life. Whatever you had and whomever you were is left behind, irretrievable and possibly damaging to the future you’ve always planned for yourself: the big house, hot car, plump retirement, beautiful family, and enough college degrees, Disney vacations, and tennis lessons to choke out the Huxtables.
I think it’s kind of presumed that if you check out of the game, you turn some corner of no return.
But you really don’t.
I left. I went on that one-year adventure, and then I came back. Did the old desk job. Then I left again.
I didn’t come back to the USA that time around, but the recipe remained the same. I worked in different countries, I saved, and I took months off in-between to adventure. I did that for ten years, and for now, I’ve stopped. I’m holding still, putting down roots in Oklahoma—and the funniest part is that my life looks just like everyone else’s around me. I make good money. My boyfriend and I are renovating a house. I have an okay car, but I could afford a hot-shit one if I wanted. I don’t have kids, but I could have some hot-shit ones of those too if I wanted.
But…there is one thing I don’t have.
Today, when my colleague rotated away from her Mac and her amazing graphic design for which I was writing copy—when she faced me with fatigued eyes and said, “I started your book, but I’m afraid to keep reading it. I’m scared it might make me want to quit my job and just…go somewhere. Thailand. I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand,” I was poignantly reminded of what I don’t have.
There are possibilities waiting for you. This year, in 2016, don’t just consider them. Get to scratchin’.
Check out Shelby’s book, Good Globe, for more stories of her adventures and a glimpse at what we can discover when we find courage within ourselves.