Wednesday, December 14, 2016

He's Come Undone (33rd-Year Edition)

I can't articulate WHY... but this speaks to me.
Real talk.

For a while in 2016, it indeed looked like I'd come undone. A better metaphor is that it was like being unmoored and lost at sea.

Unmooring a vessel means to lift up the anchor and release ties to the dock, releasing it to the weather, the sea, and the skill of the crew. It's always the start of any journey, and no ship leaves dock without a destination. I unmoored myself from Chicago when I left to travel abroad. The thing about journeys is that, when you have a stated end goal, your journey will end in either success or failure.

In other words, becoming unmoored is the first step to achieving your dreams. However, being unmoored is also the first step in getting truly lost.

This year, I ran into some headwinds at sea.

I had a series of jobs that I didn't like. I felt like my real talents were going to waste, but wasn't always able to articulate those talents in a way that made sense, to myself or employers. I attempted to start a few businesses, and was marginally successful in one of them. I got a job I loved, and then got fired from when I demanded a contract (oof, disheartening - she operated in America, FYI). I followed a lot of irrational hope, in hindsight.

In the meantime, all my internal plans were in disarray.

This was one of the good points.
My initial plan was to live here for three years, which was basically where I was... but I felt that I wasn't done with Vietnam yet. I was continuing to use and practice my Vietnamese, and I felt increasingly comfortable in the culture. I was looking for something substantial, employment-wise, that would help fuel future victories outside of this country. I didn't seem to be finding anything I liked, but logic suggested it must exist.

Most destructively, I was questioning the achievability of the plans I laid for myself 4 years ago. I began to doubt my ability to successfully operate at all.

It generally just sorta sucked. I did a lot of stress-eating, I'm disappointed to say, and not enough connecting with my friends and family.

Ok, there were definitely a few good points.
However, I also had some balancing factors in action. Although I spent a lot of money, I traveled a ton. I went to new countries, experienced new cultures, and traveled abroad by myself for the first time. I moved into a better living situation, and I got a cat. I have a relationship. I ate a LOT of really great food, developed new, interesting relationships, and finally have a job that I love and that I think likes me back. There were a lot of hidden gems, down in the muck that was my 33rd year on this planet.

Looking back, I can't believe I didn't recognize them at the time - it felt like I was barely holding on to the ship's deck as the world raged around me, whipping my vessel this way and that. It's clear now that I didn't have a hand on the rudder. I was responding passively to all the happened around me - not taking any action myself.

I LOVE this jacket.
This year proved to myself that passivity is not an option. To fling yourself headlong into the storm that is life is not a plan to reach your destination. There are chaotic forces that are not on our side, whether it's governments, health care systems, banks, or just other people. Shit is most definitely gonna happen, sooner or later... even if it's just a steady buildup of everyday shit. You've got to be able to stop and re-navigate; re-locate your self after a bruising session with Life.

In the end (which is not now, but for this post it will do nicely), I definitely didn't reach the destinations I was intending at the time I thought I would. But, that's also kinda ok. I always said I was flexible about my goal-making, and this year proves that my goals can bend and shape with new information I receive, and new actions I decide to take. I'm sure my new journey to my new goals will be just as filled with gems as my journey to the present.

Me at Angkor Wat, again. Good.
It's important to have goals, but also necessary to be able to re-chart your waters after the rainy season has passed (even if only temporarily). The storms will come - let them wash over and through you, and be strong, but flexible. After it passes, re-orient yourself toward your goals, whatever they are. Look to your personal stars, your fixed points. The sun will come out again, the skies will clear up again, and you will see exactly where you are, and you can begin journeying anew.

In a rapidly changing world, may we all discover our talents soon.


He says, enjoying one of the last rains of the rainy season! Take care, everyone...


  1. There are many, many lessons here. On thing that really resonated with me was your likening of a storm at sea to the things in our lives that we can't control. I think travel and time well-spent with good people are the two simplest and most effective ways to re-orient and recharge. Well-written my friend! Glad you seem to have gotten through the roughest waters :)

    1. Thanks so much! This blog just flowed out of my brain... pun intended! I'm glad to be here with you. :)


Hi! Thanks for speaking up! :) - Ben