Bae (it’s funny to say this word out loud),
Slow traveling the world for 13 years caused me to think more about random shit than I should have.
While I was cramming Oreos into my mouth while piloting a 39-foot sailboat called the Lady Slipper 500 miles up the Central American coastline, I thought about the next 20 years of my life. Fending off pirates, riding and bobbing by 6-foot ocean swells, holding onto the guardrail white knuckled alone in the middle of the night, watching the glint of flying fish flutter through the moonlight, feeling the first heat of a Caribbean sun breaking over turquoise waters, our little boat tilted towards the dark sea and my consciousness tipped with it.
Travel taught me invaluable life lessons about who and what I value.
We all tilt towards something in life, whether we want to admit it or not.
Towards cities. Or nature. Or ideas. Or beliefs.
The point of travel is to find what you want to tilt towards in your life.
These sailing and traveling memories are distant cries from the startup life I live now.
I woke up at 7:00am to coach kids and a tiny white faced bird shit on me from its perch of brown branches and lush green leaves, and I laughed because it doesn’t matter.
The little shit doesn’t matter.
The big shit matters.
This is what I call, “The Tilt.”
This is the real McCoy.
And the big shit happens when you least expect it. I can shut my eyes and sense the motion of my sailboat. It reminds me of where I want to go, what I want to do. The lapping of water against fiberglass echoes in my mind. Those days alone on the boat taught me things I’ll never forget. Not even playing in Europe was as powerful as leaning against the teak siding of my forward starboard cabin.
Yet, literally, the tilt of our traveling boat led my mind to a different place because the tilt is where you lead yourself when no one is looking. It’s where your mind goes when no one is talking, when the ideas bleed into the quiet solitude of dawn as you wake up and find a steaming espresso in front of you and a blank canvas of creation awaiting you.
Traveling asks: “Where will you lead yourself today?”
Michael Erwin tells us: “Solitude is a state of mind, a space where you can focus on your own thoughts without distraction, with a power to bring mind and soul together in clear-eyed conviction. Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, however, handheld devices and other media now leave us awash with the thoughts of others. We are losing solitude without even realizing it.”
Yes, Michael, we are distracted, I am distracted.
Travel is how I find my space again.
The tilt is found in the little details of your consciousness, in awakening your passions, habits, values, and purpose. I smile when I lose my voice inspiring kids to push themselves. I feel joy when an adult thanks me for changing their lives with fitness. I love writing and sharing words that shape meaning and stories that show my slow travel experiences.
Why does any of this matter?
Well, passions are fun, even self-serving at times. Habits help you overcome the days you don’t have any motivation. Values are what and who you are. Purpose is the wake of residue you leave behind with the people you interact with and help every day.
So shit little bird, shit, because today I am at the intersection of meaning.
Yet, I can only laugh at the splatter of little crap that tries to distract me from finding happiness and meaning through tilting towards self-exploration.
“I am not a grand fan of the truth — I am a grand fan of doing that which moves you towards your goals.” — Tom Bilyeu
Traveling can make you question everything. Your life, your relationships, your careers, your loves, your feet, your toes sticking into a beach that isn’t yours, your outdated values — especially the ones that seem petty, egotistical, superficial, and shallow.
I travel to find solitude or to understand different people and their cultures, from the grouchy Austrian that doesn’t understand how a line forms, to the plump Belgian that won’t get out of your way on the subway. I travel to observe and admire the Guatemalan mother with a basket of colorful rugs on her head, or I cringe as the French taxi driver swerves 3 lanes to make it out of the roundabout.
The one fact I have learned in my 39 years is this: life isn’t waiting for me, for you, or anyone to figure our shit out.
The Earth is just spinning around at 1,000 miles per hour and society is progressing at staggering rates. We clone food. We have artificial limbs. We change human genetics. We map brains. We see atoms, we divide atoms. We shoot rockets to the sun. To the moon. To Saturn. We make robots. We do work on our phones.
I travel a thousand miles away from where I am right now in less than an hour.
Yet, all over the world, more and more people suffer from depression, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, and stress as the distractions of a modern world attack our health like invisible assassins.
Because the little shit runs our lives.
Maybe it’s because we lose our tilt.
Our solitude — that space to find what we need again.
Michael you may be right. He says, “We live in a cacophonous age, swarming insects of noise and interruption buzzing about — emails, text messages, cable news, advertisements, cell phones, meetings, wireless Web connections, social media posts, and all the new intrusions invented by the time you are reading this. If leadership begins not with what you do but with who you are, then when and how do you escape the noise and find your purpose and summon the strength to pursue it?”
If not now, then when? This is why you should travel.
Traveling to run from your unhappy place doesn’t help you find solitude.
Traveling to listen does and understand does.
Here, listening and observing the differences of our grand world, something magical happens.
I begin to tilt again back to what I am, to the truest of part of myself, not the donkey man that flexes his flabby abs in the morning and drives a BMW (hey, I got a great deal). I begin to tilt towards the part of me that wants to drive a camper van to the most grandiose sunrises and pristine National Parks in the United States. The part of me that tilts towards unconventional living and feels blessed to be with friends that live with similar values. The part of me that stops thinking about the money and focuses on the people. The people. The friends. The kids. The smiles. The fun.
The sustainable part of life that feeds our souls and feels good to us.
I travel to find that part of me again.