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A New Vision Quest

The search for inner peace... or something.

 

What?

I’m living in my car.

It’s not because I’m poor. It’s because I had this pull…

There was this thing that kept telling me to travel and see where it takes me.

Of course, maybe, I’m just running from something.

Either way, I’ve packed my car and headed West. I’m not sure what the pull is, but I feel like I need the answer to some question – though I’m not really sure what that question is.

The Situation

On paper, my life looks amazing. My only child is off in college. I teach yoga which completely fulfills me. I have another sustainable business that I enjoy doing, which happens to be totally mobile ready. Beautiful friends and great clients. It’s really perfect!

That’s not a brag – it’s meant to illustrate that just because your friends think you’re living the dream doesn’t mean you are living the dream. And, that’s OK.

Because, for me, something didn’t seem quite right.

Isn’t that the way? You get exactly where you wanted to be, you reach that goal, and something still feels missing?

This is actually a known psychological affect. In fact, long before Western Medicine, mystics have been talking about the loss of desire when something is attained.

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Book 4 – Sutra 29: Who desires to get high? Not someone who is already high. When you attain what you desire, the desire for it drops away.

Swami Satchidananda commentary on the Yoga Sutras

Deep in the throws of Western Corporate life, the desires we float between are new cars, bigger houses, cooler things. “Growth” in the spiritual sense moves us from these desires to goal based desires as we begin building a life / identity that we resonate with, rather than building a security that we can compare to others.

We seem to be always seeking something.

 

Enter the Vision Quest

Years ago, as we were all tribal creatures, we sent our children into the woods with little to sustain themselves but talismans handed down from generations to protect them. We expected those children would find their way, not only physically, but spiritually. We expected they would figure out how to survive. They would find what they were good at. Their time un-supported would give them a sense of confidence… a sense of pride… a sense of purpose. They would return to the village after their “vision” with a knowledge of their selves, the world around us, and what they were meant to provide to the tribe.

Yeah. The whole purpose of the quest is to develop an identity that supports the whole.

I think we should still be doing that for our children.

…for each other.

…for ourselves.

We should push to figure out how we best support the world.

I’ve decided that my time for that quest is now.

But, this vision quest, journey thing, didn’t just flash in my head as a grand complete idea, then manifest itself onto my To-Do list. That’s just not the way BIG things happen.

 

More Like Tetris

Remember Testris? The 80’s video game where you interlock blocks to build rows and if you completed a row, you got points? BIG things very rarely happen like a switch. It’s more Tetris.

Tetris has a strategy, too. Build up four lines almost complete, then drop that four-long piece down in vertically and bamo! LOTS of points. The key to this strategy is trusting, at some point, the right pieces will show up AND you’ll be able to do with them what you need to.

Sometimes, the right pieces don’t show up and you’ve got all that foundation plugged tight, but have to build over it. Build a new four rows almost complete.

Yeah, true BIG things happen more like that.

Can’t Not

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And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

– Anaïs Nin

I didn’t just wake up one morning with this idea, quit teaching, pack the car and launch into the unknown. The world almost conspired to make it so – or at very least lined up enough things to get me to jump.

Often, we dream of just leaping into this completely BIG new thing. We read stories about people who have drastically changed their life and those stories seem to lack the “leading up to it” parts. It’s also hugely romantic to just say “Enough!” Then, magically be or do something else.

It does take a lot of action, a little setting yourself in a place to take the action, and a lot of little pushes in the right direction. When the time becomes right, you’ll know. You’ll know, not because of one sign from the universe, one fleeting dream, or one moment of enlightenment.

It takes collusion.

This vision quest really started three years ago. When I quit my IT career, I thought that as soon as my daughter went to college, I’d sell the house and travel around a bit. The first place to go was Thailand for a while. Chiang Mai is known as a hub for folks to bootstrap businesses and general nomadness. It’s cheap and I wouldn’t know anyone, so I could focus on my writing. Remember, I quit my job to be a writer? Yeah, I forget that a lot, too.

Around that time, I started going to a conference in Portland OR, every year in July. This year would be no different.

Somewhere around January, I was talking to Steve Errey – yeah, THE Steve Errey – and he asked if I was driving to PDX again this year. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but Steve suggested doing a road trip from Portland to San Francisco if I was going that way anyway. “Man,” I wondered. “Spending a couple days connecting with Steve would be pretty awesome!”

A little in-person David Delp time would certainly yield positive results. San Francisco could work out for a few days.

A few months later, a yoga training I’ve been trying to take for about a year got scheduled in LA in August.

…and I did buy a share in that co-op brewery in Washington state. I’d love to get out there and help with the build. That’s west coast, too.

…and Thailand from the west coast is a shorter flight, so that might work out.

I mean, this could be a thing.

Finally, I was talking to Vanessa Tharp about her having taken a new job. She remarked, “I knew if I didn’t do it now, I’d never do if.”

Vanessa was so terribly right. I’ve been saying I’m going to Chiang Mai for three years now. The camel’s back was broken.

You see? It wasn’t that one maddening thought you can’t outrun. It wasn’t one thing that popped up and sounded cool. This big adventure was a bunch of seemingly random pursuits all kind of lining up. It is not easy. It will require you move out of your comfort zone.

If you’re waiting for that one signthat single perfect thingit will never come. It’s built over many smaller “things” strung together.

You will likely not have all the answers when you begin. Your course will change over time. And, it’s very likely scary as hell to do it.

Portland → Seattle → San Francisco (via PDX to get Steve) → and maybe Thailand… maybe.

From there, this quest began. A couple other stops and mini-adventures were added on before I actually left, but that rough plan was enough to get started on a 6 month adventure. And, yes, it is scary as hell to not know exactly where I’m going, what I’m doing, or what I’m going to fill the blanks in with.

Hunter S. Thompson once wrote in a correspondence that there was little point in driving towards something if you have nothing to drive towards. Ultimately, he was saying that it’s OK to drift along for a bit, as long as it’s not to avoid work, but to enjoy the absence of a desire. This, opposed to simply driving towards someone else’s expectation or goal.

“Hey Steve. Yeah, let’s do that road trip, thing.”

THAT is where this story begins…

Stu11

 

Posts about the quest

A Precarious Start

  First stop, Pittsburgh! Nothing new in Pittsburgh; an old friend. I thought it was funny to be starting the journey of saying good-bye to the known, to the stability, to the mediocre by saying ‘hello’ to the old. It’s been about three years since... read more

You Never Leave Yourself

  After the breakdown in Ohio, I did make it to Chicago. Walking around in Chicago, something triggers an old anger. The old conversations start running through my head. I should have said this. Next time, I’ll say that. And when I say “old” anger, I’m... read more

It’s All In Who You Know

  Despite that I am still me, there’s a lot of love for me in Chicago. It seems like everywhere I go, I connect with someone from there. This time through, I met a few of my people and missed a few. There’s a good chance I’ll be back, though. Of the... read more

Keep It Inhouse

  Chicago reminds me how amazing friends are – and how amazing work-life can be – but, also reminds me that I still have me work to do. Pretty good, all in all. Speaking of pretty… OK, speaking of friends, one of mine met me in Chicago and we drove the bulk of... read more

The Network

  If you really want to start your own business, forget business cards. Forget a great website. Forget building a list. Build a network. Nothing will help build a business with clients you love more than a network of people that love you. Converging On Portland Each... read more

A Bed To Lend

  In the last post, I talked about how important a network is for simple viability reasons. But, how do you network successfully? Easy. Networking 101: Step 1: Be awesome. Step 2: Do good things. Be Awesome Just be yourself and let the world draw in the people that... read more

No More Goodbyes

  I live about 20 miles from my friend Eugene when I’m home. We don’t really see each other much, though. You know, life gets in the way, right? So, 3,000 miles from where we both call home, we’re walking down the street laughing about nonsense that... read more

A Journey Is Worth A Thousand Words

  (This is a guest post from my friend Jason Halbauer. Jason is in the process of starting his own business, so I thought it would be great for everyone to hear his perspective on his on journey.) Sometimes, big changes in your life or work create an intense need to... read more

Hat, Boat, Tree, Plane

  Hat Boat Tree Plane On the heels of a conference full of amazing people and another full week of good camaraderie and another full week of kicking around Portland’s finest coffee shops, it was time to get going. It was time for the catalyst of all this. The... read more

Home

  We tend to think of home as a physical place, but it’s more than that. I’d argue, actually, that the physical location doesn’t really matter. Home is hitting the gym with Chad. Home is a brew day with Keith. Drinks in Conshy with Heather. Wings at... read more

Agni: The Fire Within

  The days in San Fransisco quietly come to an end; so begins the best drive in the US – the continental US. The next stop is five days of yoga training, to begin my next certification, followed by two days of yoga retreat. Route 1 South of San Diego hugs the Pacific... read more

Who’s In Your Tribe?

  Heading into the retreat in Malibu, I felt worn out. I figured it would be two days of more fierce yoga, and I was totally ready for it, but I also figured there would be a hefty dose of hokum. I stand a bit outside of the yoga world, so a two-day retreat was going... read more

Time Changes

  It’s a funny thing about just going where the wind takes you: The wind knows where you need to go. You’ll often hear me say that every good story starts with “There was this girl…” It’s true in a sense. All your good tales, all... read more

Bad Ju-ju

  Sometimes, things just aren’t right. You’ve been there; I know you’ve been there. Sausalito, CA, is a place everyone told me was amazing. It is beautiful. My hosts were astonishing! The wifi worked. But, man, something didn’t feel right. I... read more

What Is A Tribe?

  Note: Today’s post comes from coach & survivalist, Cedric Clitheroe. I had the opportunity to catch up with him and chat about tribes in Sisters, OR. I was completely drawn in by what he was saying and asked if he’d share that with you. I’m... read more

An Inconceivable Problem

  Seattle: another city full of people I know and love. I was looking forward to spending a month or so around some of my favorites. What actually happened, though, was far from ideal. I had two project deadlines in Seattle… and I missed them both. … and I spent... read more

Life Is Hard

  The first day in Vipassana meditation is kind of cool. I mean, you don’t actually meditate the whole time. But, you’re really excited to start receiving the effects of meditation. Then, day two: It’s work. It’s HARD work. It’s really... read more

Stranger In Paradise

  Hawaii was weird. Even looking back on it, Hawaii was… weird. Oh, it was beautiful! Hawaii is paradise. You take a picture of an amazing view, turn the camera around for a selfie, and there behind you is another beautiful view. Unless you’ve been there,... read more

It’s Around The Corner

  If you wander around long enough, you find what you’re looking for. There’s no better way to illustrate this concept than trying to find places in a foreign city you’ve never been to – and don’t speak the language. Know It When You See It One... read more

Momma, I’m Coming Home

  “It’s chilly,” I think as I make my way out to the main street surrounding the city. It’s only a short walk to the restaurant I’ve gotten used to eating dinner at. It’s kind of a street stall, really. They put tables and chairs in the road.... read more

The Ziggurat & The Labyrinth

  This post is out of chronological order for reasons that will become quite obvious. But, during my travels, I took a little side trip to visit a friend for a few days. Unfortunately, my friend already had plans and being a good friend went out of their way to see if... read more

At Journey’s End

  The lessons that creep in after a trip or journey are said to be the most important. I guess I should write a 10 biggest lessons learned from my journey, but you know, it’s really all one BIG lesson that boils down to a single word. People. I talked about... read more