The Last Word

Time to wrap up this blog.  This is the last post.  I’ve been home almost 3 weeks now.  I’m still settling in.  I’ve done some visiting with friends and family.  There have been some frequently asked questions about my trip:

1.  How many countries have I visited?

I just did the math:  61.  I’m not convinced this number fully captures what I have experienced over those 2 years, 5 months, and 26 days, but there you are, my numerically-inclined friends.

2.  What am I going to do now?

Good one.  The truth is, I have no idea.  Tonight, I’m going to watch some playoff hockey on TV.  That’s as far as I’ve gotten.  I will figure the rest out later.

3.  If the life of a traveller is as good as I’m always saying it is, why did I stop?

Honestly, I’m completely and utterly broke :)  I wandered around the planet without a budget for two and a half years.  Even before that, I was a bum in Whistler for a year, just skiing, biking and partying.  So, my bank account has been under seige now for 3.5 years and is now waving the white flag.  Actually, it goes deeper:  not only have I spent every penny in every bank account, but I’ve also sold every stock, exercised every option, cashed out every mutual fund, got rid of my car, even liquidated all my retirement savings (on both sides of the border).

I think the poker term for betting everything you have is being “all in”.  I am not a proud man, but this is something I am happy about.  As cheesy as it sounds, when it came to chasing down my dreams, I was all in.

When you get home from a trip like this, you take stock of your life, and not just finances.  Not only do I not have any money, but I don’t have a job either.  (Nor have I had one in years, which could make finding one interesting).  I don’t have anywhere to live, but luckily the room I grew up in at my parents’ house has not yet been turned into an office.  As I mentioned, I don’t have a car.  I still have my motorcycle, but I can’t afford the gas, haha.  So, I mostly get around by bicycle; although I don’t even own one of those — I borrow my Dad’s.

I think a summary is in order:  I am 32 years old, broke, unemployed, have no plans or prospects, get around on a bicycle, and am living with my parents.  (I know what you single ladies out there are thinking: “What a catch!” You are probably dying to get my number.  I would leave it… but I don’t have a phone either.  Email me.)

These circumstances might look dire to some, but I think it is pretty amusing.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure my situation will work out just fine, one way or another.  (Although I will use it as good comedic material for a long time to come, hehe.)  Besides, as I like to think about it, this is the price one pays for living the life of a 1,000 men ;-)  And I would do it all over again in a second.

I was going to say something motivational/inspirational about travelling, but it sounded too corny, so I deleted it.  I will just say this:  I don’t want to tell you what to do with your life, but if you want to travel and see the world, then that’s what you should go do.  It will require some time, money, and courage.  You think the first two are the most important, but actually, if you have the third, the other two will work themselves out.  You will never regret it.  Oh, and you don’t have to end up broke, unemployed, and homeless, that is optional :)

Nor do you have to wander the planet for years to experience the joys of travel and the excitement of discovering a new place.  It doesn’t matter if your destinations are 1st world, the length of your vacation short, or the buses you ride air-conditioned; if you are visiting places you have never been, talking to people you have never met, looking at views you have never seen, trying foods you have never eaten, having experiences you have never known, then you, too, my friend, are a traveller.

Many thanks for reading and for your emails/messages/comments, it made a guy on the road feel not so far from home.  If you are a friend from my previous, “pre-traveller life”, I look forward to catching up soon.  If I met you on somewhere out there on the road, thanks for making my trip so awesome. I hope to see you again someday, somewhere around this planet.

I will leave with a Rainier Maria Rilke quote I like about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring, which is what travellers do best:

Whoever you are:  some evening take a step out of your house, which you know so well.  Enormous space is near.

See you around,
-Shawn

(Poznan, Poland.  Pic from Agata Schreyner)

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16 Responses to The Last Word

  1. Don says:

    Welcome back!

    If, in my entire life, I get to travel and see half as many places as you did on this journey, I would count myself very, very lucky.

    I am impressed!

  2. Boris says:

    There’s a job here in Seattle anytime you want it. Waterskis not included :)

  3. kim says:

    Pick up: Publishing Magazine Articles by Eva Shaw and Writers Market, both Canadian and American versions. Let your pen flow!

  4. Brent says:

    Awesome buddy!

    Drag your a$$ out to the west coast this summer. I’ll buy you a beer (or 10) if you’re still broke!

  5. Lou says:

    “I think a summary is in order: I am 32 years old, broke, unemployed, have no plans or prospects, get around on a bicycle, and am living with my parents. (I know what you single ladies out there are thinking: “What a catch!” You are probably dying to get my number. I would leave it… but I don’t have a phone either. Email me.)”

    Still laughing!

    If you’re gonna go at all, go all in. It was an excellent adventure…

  6. Ananth Duggirala says:

    Welcome back dude!! I really envy you!! Do you want to come back to Microsoft? Let me know :)

  7. Ben Baumann says:

    Amazing Shawn. I’m glad I had the good fortune to cross paths with you near the beginning of your travels, if only for a few days. And what a masterpiece of a finale,
    with the boat to Tombouctou and suprising your parents like that. Well done man, well done.

  8. andrew sze says:

    just saw your blog

    FACK IM QUITTING MY WORK AND GONNA TRAVEL NOW!!!! YOU”VE INSPIRED ME!!

    i love you

  9. Ida says:

    Splendid last post, well done Shawn! I feel like I should stand up and applaud that.
    About leaving the house… I learned the very same thing earlier today. Leaving that comfort zone and doing things I didnt think I d be able to do… not in terms of travelling but something completely different. I ll miss reading your blog, but I ll see you around my friend!

  10. Jake says:

    Taking the first step is always the most difficult. Nobody wants to leave the comfort of their home but once you get out there and start to explore the world, all your inhibitions start to disappear. Its a great feeling I tell ya. Although I am not sure I will ever be able to accomplish what you did but I am arduous trekker, love travelling and love seeking out and venturing into the remotest of regions.

    Get a job, save up some money and I am sure you will be back on the road in no time again.

  11. morgone says:

    Just encountered your blog and have been reading snippets of it. I can relate to your final comments on being broke. The travellers bug is such a terrible affliction.. and yet so compelling.

    Cheers,
    Darren

  12. Sonali says:

    Shawn you are simply totally and completely amazing.I was actually looking for a bicycle and then from the google images it redirects to your blog so i should thank google ;) I agree with your beliefs and for a traveller its ok being homeless and jobless because to be happy and free is the most important thing :)

  13. smartelo says:

    Thanks, Sonali! I appreciate that, and like your view :)

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