Alright. This is one of those posts that I have been meaning to write for quite some time, and I am finally getting around to it. So very many of you have asked/told me some version of these things over the past few years, regarding my life of traveling and climbing:
That I am so lucky.
That you don’t understand how I can afford to travel as much as I do.
That I am living the dream.
And most commonly, that you wish you could do what I do.
Well my dears, I have a secret to share with you: I am not special. You are just as capable as I am of living the dream, of living on the road, and of spending your life doing what you love–whether that be climbing, writing, yoga-ing, hiking, painting, being a Mom, cooking, traveling, making music, or whatever else it is that makes you feel like this life is one of endless bliss.
So let’s start with this common comment: “Georgie, you are so lucky.” Well, you’re right. I am lucky. I have two parents who very graciously let me live with them whenever I need to, and who encourage me to climb. They may not even really understand why I do what I do, but they still support me. I also have friends who, also very graciously, let me sleep on their couch if I am passing through their city. So yes, I am blessed in the sense that I am surrounded by people who emotionally support my desire to climb.
But for argument’s sake, let’s say you have really crappy parents and no friends. I highly doubt that is the case, but these things are not requirements to live the way that I do. Yes, I appreciate my family and friends every day and they definitely make my life a million times easier, but you could do this on your own. It will just take a little more confidence.
Now as for the second thing that I am frequently told, that people don’t understand how I can afford to travel so much, might be more difficult for some people to grasp. I spend my money differently from the normal person. The equation goes something like this: work my ass off for a few months, save as much of that money as I possibly can, spend it on traveling, repeat. Living this way can make some people extremely nervous and I don’t blame them. But if you truly want to live on the road or travel, you will have to make certain sacrifices and spending money is one of them. It’s just a matter of being okay with it.
I also spend my money on different things from the everyday person. I very rarely go out to eat, buy beers at a bar, buy new clothes, new gadgets, coffee, or expensive groceries. My money is spent solely on traveling. For this reason I wouldn’t suggest having kids during the times you’d like to be traveling 🙂 If you already have kids, no worries, wait a few years until they are grown and supporting themselves and not living with you (like I am with my parents) and then go do your thing.
Thankfully I have also found a few jobs that I can do over the internet, so I am making a little money as I travel this time around. Telecommuting is something that anyone with any kind of skill set can do. You could even find a way to make money off of the thing that you love to do. That would be desirable.
On to number 3: I am living the dream. You are correct, I am living the dream. Well, I’m living my dream. But what I don’t understand is why everyone isn’t living the dream. If you stick to the American way of things: go to college, get a job, make money, have kids, retire and finally spend your money, well, that’s fine and all, but personally that sounds pretty boring. I don’t want to wait until I’m old to live the dream. Besides, how many retired people do you know that are living the dream? I think that when we tell ourselves, next year will be the year I truly start living, or, just wait until I’m 65, yeah, then I will be able to have my fun…we completely lose the moment and our only happiness comes from the empty promise of a better future. Life doesn’t work that way. Do it now, do it now, do it now. Living a life of waiting around for the good days to happen will rob you of bliss. These are the good days. Wake up.
And lastly, the most common thing I am told is that people wish they could do what I do. My sweet friends, please do not think that you cannot do this. YOU CAN. If living a life of travel, meeting new people, getting lost, being surrounded by beauty, finding yourself, challenging ideas you accept to be true, sleeping under the stars, and eating a lot of peanut butter sounds like your idea of dreamy–then DO IT. Leave. If you have even the slightest desire to do something like this, believe me, you will never be satisfied until you at least try it. Otherwise, you will always wonder. This kind of emotion doesn’t just go away if you try to bury it deep. In fact, it will only get stronger.
A word of caution–this kind of living isn’t easy. You will be challenged, you will get dirty, you will get lost, you’ll probably cry, you’ll yell and hoot and holler, you will be scared, confused, homesick, you might get sick or realize that you aren’t cut out for something like this. You might get robbed, a mountain pass might be closed, your friend might get hurt, plans will change, you could lose your glasses, you might only last two days. You will stand under a redwood tree and think, what the hell am I doing here, I had a perfectly good job and life back in the city, I traded all of that just to look up at this redwood and sleep in the back of a goddamn car?
All of that happens. More often than any of us admit. But even with all of its intensity, confusion, and loneliness, life on the road and in nature is worth it. It will change you, and I would even argue that it is necessary in order to heal, to find yourself. It’s definitely necessary for me.
The easiest thing for people to do when it comes to doing something like this is to make up an excuse for why you can’t leave. You have a job, you have a dog, you have a lease, you have laundry to do. Maybe you don’t think you deserve to do something like this. Maybe you think it’s selfish. Well, yeah, it is selfish in a way.
But the only thing truly holding you back from doing something like this: kids. Can’t be selfish if you’ve got little ones running around.
So, my friends, I hope you now understand that I am not any different from you. This is a somewhat glossed over version of HOW TO LEAVE, but you get the idea.
Arguably, there is really only one thing that is mandatory to live this way: bravery. You must be brave enough to leave, to believe you can leave in the first place, to face the hardships that you will encounter, to live a life that society doesn’t understand.
But just try it. Go.