Friday, April 25, 2014

This All Started Because Of A Picture

            In today's hustle and bustle world we're so caught up in our lives that we don't learn how to live them for ourselves.  Over time, I've noticed that people would rather settle for what's easy by being told what to do than to develop their own philosophy. So I'm going to share my incredible experience which developed my personal philosophy and how the development of that philosophy steered me to the Peace Corps.

            This came about when I was working on Capitol Hill.  It was 2009, I'd been there for five months and was almost finished with my Congressional Internship.  In addition to the 40hrs I worked there, I was also putting in another 25-30hrs bartending.  (DC is one of the most expensive places to live in the US).

            So near the end of the internship I was exhausted both mentally and physically. It was the day before Thanksgiving and before I left I checked my email one last time and saw that I had a new email from my favorite blog, The Art of Manliness (more on that blog later).  I clicked the link and up popped a contest for a bag.  It wasn't the contest I noticed but the picture in the background. 
             That picture changed my life. 

           It had a young man sitting by himself, with only his bag, overlooking Machu Picchu.  That photograph epitomized everything that I wanted to be and do.  I wanted to be a man confident in traveling abroad, going to new heights (literally!) and appreciating the journey that took him to those heights.  

       So two weeks later I completed my internship, went home and never worked in an office again.  I slowly but thoroughly planned on how to get abroad, I did and loved it.  What I didn't expect was to fall for a girl and move away from my dream and back to her. Now, I'm a passionate man but I don't live with regrets.  Thankfully it didn't work out but I was left, alone, in a new city, Nashville, with no way to work other than to bartend.  It took me some time but I learned from that feeling of rejection and rebuilt myself emotionally to refocus on enjoying my passions of writing, traveling and teaching. I took those lessons, applied for my dream job and was accepted into the Peace Corps.

             When I was abroad I lived in Korea and I learned how to thrive in another culture but my time since returning to the US has taught me how to apply those lessons to my inner self and use them to strengthen my character.  I've realized that the "bag" is, of course, a metaphor for ourselves.  The "bag" is just a physical representation of your inner self. 

         My philosophy is that your bag represents who you are.  I have, I am, a bag that is made of durable leather, is able to carry almost anything, can be adjusted from a backpack to a satchel and has no moving parts. It can carry the tools I need, my datapad/laptop/smartphone which I can write on or use the internet. I put pen and paper in it so I can communicate with whoever I meet and it can still fit some clothes, a toothbrush, deo, comb and razor. Those are all the possessions I need in life. They are of quality, they help me as I pursue my goals and most importantly they do not own me because I can take them out of the bag anytime I want.

This is the bag that I have. Saddleback Leather Co. gave me a great note too.

            I wanted to share this with you because people think that you can just get a job and be happy.  That's not how it works because how can you be happy if you don't know what it is that defines you? How can you work a job that you're not passionate about?  Most importantly, how can you be happy if you're always looking at other people's lives on social media instead of living your own?

             For me this process of joining the Peace Corps has been long but worth it.  I would never have been accepted if I hadn't moved to Nashville and learned how to define my life through my inner character so I could follow my passions of travelling, teaching, learning and writing. This blog is about that journey and the steps I take along the way. I hope you enjoy walking with me from time to time.