The Journey to Change My Life Begins
How a Change in Perspective Prompted Me to Change My Life Purpose
Have you ever felt like your life has become stagnant and you're no longer advancing the way you'd like to? I believe many people have. Perhaps you feel that you're not working to fulfill your life's purpose?
We have the power to turn things around and make the changes necessary to live the life that we dream of and envision in our minds. All it takes is to take that first step. A new beginning. A new reality. A new chapter.
This is my story or how I took back my life and set out on a journey that would change my perspective, goals, purpose, and understanding of the universe.
A Reminder of My Own Mortality
The year 2015 was a difficult one for me, but also one that was eye-opening and educational.
At the beginning of the year I went through a very difficult breakup, and the effects of it bled into all areas of my life. Bad habits started forming and were spiraling out of control.
In the late spring on a rainy day an event occurred that reminded me of how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away at any moment.
I was driving down the highway on my way home from work when I was rear ended by a dually truck towing behind it a large amount of construction materials.
I was speaking to a friend of mine on Bluetooth and remember looking in my rearview mirror to see this monstrosity approaching my Toyota Camry at about 65 miles per hour.
“Oh shit!” I screamed into the Bluetooth.
The truck smashed directly into the rear of my vehicle. The entire car jolted and rattled on impact. My body was pushed up into the steering wheel and felt as if it was whipped around like a wet noodle.
“Let me call you back bro, I just got smacked by a big ass truck.”
After I exchanged contact and insurance information with the truck driver I called the police as I thought was standard. They asked me if I was seriously injured. I wasn’t. They asked me if the car was drivable. It was, barely. I was told I was free to go.
Driving the last three miles or so to my house people in other cars were honking at me and pointing.
“Hey man, your rear bumper is dragging on the ground and your trunk is all smashed up into the cabin” said one good samaritan.
“Yeah, no shit Sherlock. You think I can’t hear it, nor feel the bumper scraping across the concrete, let alone the big ass pain I’ve got in my neck and back?”
I got a lot of interesting questions from neighbors when I parked the car in my parking lot. People couldn't believe I was driving the car in that condition. And everyone seemed to have a “guy who does body work.”
Ha! No one does body work to fix damage like this bad boy had.
I called my buddy when I got home and told him I needed him to come meet me at a bar by my house to take a few shots of Jameson and have a couple beers.
I mean, what would YOU do if you just got in an accident that easily could have taken your life?
I was so pumped with adrenaline and Jameson seemed like a good way to calm my nerves.
The accident totaled out my car and caused me to have to go to physical therapy sessions for a couple of months.
Later, in the fall of the same year I stopped at a gas station one night where I was carjacked at gunpoint by a methamphetamine addict who was driving a stolen car that had just broke down.
When someone threatens to shoot you if you don’t hand over your car and keys, you have only a split second to make a decision.
What do you do? Fight or flight kicks in. Be a "wuss" and hand over the keys or play hero and risk getting shot?
I tell you what. I handed those keys over so damn fast.
A car means nothing to me. I feel I made the right decision and I would do the same again. My car was gone but I was fine, if not a little rattled and once again reminded of my mortality. The leased car has now been returned to the auto manufacturer and I'm still here.
I called above mentioned buddy again and asked him to come pick me up from the gas station. Guess where we went next?? Damn right! Back for a few more Jameson shots and beers.
I called my parents for the second time in four months starting the conversation with the same statement when they answered the phone. The second part was different this time.
“The good news is I’m alive. The bad news is that this time my car has been stolen!"
About five days later I got a call from a police department in another nearby state indicating that they had found my car and arrested the perpetrator. The vehicle had been wrecked during a chase and was severely damaged.
I hoped that it would be totaled and I’d not have to deal with it again, but I had just leased it as a brand new car a few months prior to replace the first car that was totaled in the accident.
The insurance company said there was not enough damage to total this car.
I then had to deal with getting it fixed in a body shop, and all of the headaches of dealing with the insurance company and the local police departments. On top of that I had to drive a car that had been "snake bit," and had bad juju all over it.
After giving it some deep thought I felt that I needed an energetic cleanse and a complete spiritual overhaul.
It felt like negative energy was following me everywhere I went.
Traumatic events, failing relationships, self-medication in unhealthy manners. I couldn't shake it.
Plus, I had been working constantly to make sure all of my employees were successful and could provide a good life for their families. But I wasn't taking care of myself, neither physically nor spiritually.
I needed a break.
In late 2015 I took a month off from work to travel to South America. During that month I visited multiple cities in Peru and spent one week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was the first time I had taken off more than seven consecutive days from work in more than a decade
George in Machu Picchu. One of the most amazing places in the world.
The Origin of My Inward Travel
During this journey I visited with backpackers who had spent months traveling around South America and exploring most countries on the continent. For some, South America was just one destination of many. I met travelers who had spent months exploring Asia, Africa, Europe etc.
Though most of the backpackers were between 5-10 years younger than I, and although I considered myself a seasoned and experienced traveler I learned so much more about traveling than I had previously known.
More importantly, I learned about living life with a purpose and spirituality.
I spent a significant amount of time in the Amazon Jungle working with a spiritual shaman.
I came into contact with eclectic people who were passionate and knowledgable of things I had heard of but never studied and had definitely not incorporated into my life.
Subjects like meditation, positive thinking and affirmations, holistic and plant medicines, energy healing, expansion of consciousness. The list goes on.
I listened to their ideas and beliefs and took notes of the books they read and authors that wrote them. I approached all of these ideas with an open mind, being able to later read about them and decide which concepts I'd like to incorporate into my own life.
This was the beginning of my inward travel experience; a journey that completely changed my outlook on life and the way to approach it.
Once I became aware, there was no going back to the way things were before.
George in Iquitos, waiting on a barge to go up the Amazon River.
Outward Travel - Experiencing the World
My experiences also taught me a great amount about outward travel experiences. Being exposed to new cultures again inspired me to desire to learn more.
I was reminded of how much there is to see in the world and realized I wanted to experience more for myself while I had the opportunity to do it.
Hearing new perspectives and witnessing firsthand how people live happily in other areas of the world with completely different realities changed the way I saw things.
I also learned many tricks of the trade that you pick up to ease the difficulties of your travels and provide for the most optimal experiences.
I learned how to get around on a budget and to make money go further.
I learned what apps and websites to have and access to make travels easier.
I learned the most efficient way to gain as much knowledge as possible of the place I was visiting.
I learned the hard way what security measures to take not to lose my belongings.
My cell phone was pick-pocketed from me during a Manu Chao concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I lost most all of the pictures I had of this trip. The following photos of an animal sanctuary in the Amazon were taken by other people and offered to me and are some of the only pics that I have as a reminder of this trip.
After traveling for a month I was very confident in my ability to get around easily and problem-free.
I made sure I would not to lose my belongings again.
Slideshow of George at an animal shelter in the Amazon.
A Complete Change in Perspective
Since most of the people I met along the way were from countries other than my own, I was simultaneously learning about the cultures and countries of those travelers while also learning about the places I was visiting.
The novelty of these experiences and knowledge sparked an interest within me that I knew could only be fulfilled by traveling more extensively in the near future.
Upon my return to the states I finished out the remainder of 2015 with my employer.
During a staff meeting at the beginning of 2016, my boss told all of the people in the room that we should set a goal for ourselves, write it down, and post it on our desktop computers as a constant reminder of what we hoped to accomplish within the year.
“What a great idea” I thought.
What would you write down with such an open-ended question?
The possibilities are limitless!
The note that I wrote and taped to my computer said the following: “I will blow out in 2016!”
The goal I set for myself during the year 2016
Within the industry in which I worked, “blowing out” is jargon meaning to quit your job.
Sales is a high turnover industry. Employees sometimes have empty boxes close to their desks to fill up with their belongings when they’re ready to leave called “blow out boxes.”
The hashtag "#blowout2016" became my motto.
Though the note was written with some amount of sarcasm and jest, deep down I really meant it.
I set a personal goal that within the next year I would quit my job and travel the world for a minimum of 6 months to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine while I was still in a position to be able to do so.
Life can get in the way of living out your dreams, and I didn't want that to happen to me.
My boss and coworkers were aware of my goal but brushed it off as a joke and pipe dream, even though I frequently made off-the-wall comments about my plans. “I’m blowing out” was my catchphrase.
Whenever I would leave the office for the day I told them I was “blowing out.”
Leaving to get coffee at Starbucks? “I’m blowing out to get coffee!”
Customer didn’t buy from you? “He blew out on you bro?”
Eventually the term “blowing out” was being heard all over the building.
Prepare For Launch
By mid October I had decided for sure that I was leaving to go travel.
I told my boss (who happens to be a great friend of mine) that I really was blowing out soon.
He knew what it meant.
I told him I would work through the end of the month of like normal, and volunteered to stay on with the company for the month of November so that I could train my replacement.
The job that I did at my company was very unique and I was the only one who knew how to run the department and work the position. It took an entire month to bring someone up to speed so that they could continue to steer the ship in the right direction. It was announced to the staff at the beginning of November that it would be my last month there.
The last month was fun, but it was bittersweet.
I had worked with lots of these people for many years, some for the better part of a decade. I had witnessed them grow personally and professionally and assisted with that growth, and they had come to be my surrogate family. My home away from home.
On my last day of work they threw me a farewell party and everyone wrote something personal to me on a card to express their gratitude. It took every ounce of “man-ness” within me not to shed tears. I was overwhelmed by the emotion and support of my coworkers.
The Farewell Card I Received from Coworkers
During those last couple of months of work I paid off all of my debt, purchased a vehicle in cash to avoid having car payments and higher insurance premiums, slowly started gifting and donating belongings I had that provided little to no value to my life, and finished the lease on my apartment.
By the time November was up I had only the belongings that I needed for the trip and a few boxes of personal items with which I was unwilling to part. Those items were stored in the garage and shed of a couple of friends.