What Inspires You? -or- Reflecting on the past eight years

10 Dec

"Man is not a camel – he must drink."

That's a sign I saw in a bar in New Zealand in 2004. It's also one of the very first entries in my journal from that trip, the first real length journey I've ever been on. I started reading it today on the plane ride to St. Lucia to work for the ARC Rally finish because I'm doing a 'Voice of Experience' article for SAIL and wanted to refresh my memory of that anchor debacle in Endeavor Inlet.

All it has done thus far is put a yearning in my soul to go back to that kind of travel, the kind where everything is new, everything exciting and adventurous, where there is no agenda (and no work), no thought is there to clutter the mind except that which is right in front of you. It cannot ever exist like that for me again and I know that and it's slightly depressing – but simultaneously inspiring.

"Came across and article in Sports Illustrated about Hines Ward," I wrote in 2004, at the LAX airport waiting for the flight that would take me to New Zealand and Oz for half a year. "He's only 28 and went to four pro bowls already," I commented. "What the heck am I going to be doing when I'm 28?"

In LA, my Air New Zealand plane in the background before
my first big trip abroad.

Very weird reading that now that I am 28. What if I could go back there and have a beer with that 20-year-old version of myself (who ironically wouldn't have even been allowed to then – I turned 21 in New Zealand that year a few weeks later, celebrating – even more ironically – with tow Swedish guys I met in the hostel in Wellington. Christian later stayed with us in Brisbane, and I went to his house in Stockholm to watch Vasaloppet two years ago). I'd tell 20-year-old me about everything I'd accomplished, and I'm not sure he'd believe me.

The thing is – and I touched on this idea talking with Joe Reed on my Two Inspired Guys podcast – that everything I've written down in the last 8 years has come true, more or less. "Believe it and it will come true," my mom always said, quoting Jimmy Buffet. How right she was.

"By the time you're my age," the current me might have said there in the Encounter restaurant high above LAX, "you will have accomplished much. You will have jumped from an airplane, twice in fact (once with your mom!); you will have both of your captain's licenses; you will have won a triathlon and completed 3 marathons; you will have been across the Atlantic twice, once for a job (!); you will have written a book, and been published over 100 times in various magazines; you will have traveled to Istanbul and learned firsthand about Islam; you will have returned to New Zealand and met the woman of your dreams, and have moved with her to Sweden; will have learned to speak Swedish; you will have gotten a job that allows – no pays – you to travel, and pays you to sail and write; your dreams, more or less, will have come true," I would say.

Hiking alone up into the hills behind Greymouth, NZ, 2004

And what would 20-year-old Andy have said? I feel like back then – especially after glancing back at these journals – I had the same longing in my heart I feel now, one yearning for something more, something greater than myself, for what it means to live in and explore this world. Have I lost some of that excitement? Maybe. Am I more stressed now than then? Absolutely. But it dawned on me on the plane just now – in the bathroom, no less – that I am living out my wildest dreams. 20-year-old me would have been ecstatic to hear my stories.

What inspires you? What inspires me is the constant feeling of something missing, of never being satisfied. I'm happy – just not satisfied. I'll never be. Or I might as well give it all up.


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