I've come here after talking to Greg and asking some lengthy questions which he answered anyways, and I'm very happy for that (this is also just about everything I already told you, Greg). My desire to start backpacking didn't begin quite as that, but rather a desire to experience life and "discover who we truly are". It started off small, beginning around 8th grade, and has gradually increased, until now, at the end of my Junior year of highschool, where I'm ready to jump out the door. The desire increased the most this last year than any other. I've changed a lot in just a year. My philosophy on life has changed, thanks to a few books. I'm very happy I was exposed to these philosophies, and I'm proud of my perspectives at this age.
I think it all started after I read and watched Into the Wild. The prospect of leaving everything behind to pursue some greater aspect of life, and of discovering more about yourself appealed to me. I'm an adventurous kid. I love adrenaline, seeing and trying new things, although they might scare me. But taking risks is the fun of life. Not knowing what could happen makes things even more entertaining, just like moment of suspense in the movies. While death is included in some risks, it still comes at one point. And why sit on the couch or in a cubicle in the name of safety, when you risk getting hurt to experience the rush of life. So, after reading that book, the idea was planted in my head, and it grew.
Over the period of the next few years, I found myself questioning life more, as any teenager would. What did it mean, to have a few moments that give us that strange feeling of joy, obtained by not really chasing them, but coincidences while living life in a cubicle, running that 'Rat Race'. The ideal conception I have for my life is chasing these moments. Strangling every drop of fun, happiness, adventure, and thrills I can out of my life. Sitting around town working a job, just so that I can earn money to keep myself alive to continue working that job seems the opposite of what I want to do. Like mentioned in the book 'The Celestine Prophecy', I don't want to spend my life trying to preoccupy myself, and forgetting why we live.
That said, it became apparent to me that the best way to experience life and all it has to offer is to become a vagabond. Meet people, experience cultures firsthand rather than sitting by a hotel pool in foreign countries. I want to chase those experiences that give us those "warm" feelings, and that stay with us all our lives. I often imagine trying to have that feeling like you do in a good dream, like you met some person that had a great influence, or you find the love of your life. The warm feeling in your chest that persists after the dream is over, but you're left longing for more, and somewhat sad, and unsure how to feel that again. Those moments where we feel truly alive and awake, and everything seems right in the world.
I watched the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo plays an American backpacker in Thailand, wanting to experience something radically different than what we usually do. In the movie, he meets a character who gives him a map to a solitary beach paradise. With two French travelers, he sets out to find the island, and he comes across a community living on a beautiful beach. I'd love to have an experience like that somewhere in my life. Though, not following the movie directly, exactly...
So. The plan:
I've got my Senior year left in highschool. I'd like to leave sooner, because I feel there is little left for me where I'm at. I have a great family, but what will be 18 years, it'd be time to move on and take control of my life. I'll work jobs, save up as much money as I can. Over the year, I'll stock up equipment, and get well prepared. I've already got a decent sized backpack that I'm going to use on a hike to Machu Picchu this summer. I'll write down a list of things I should take, tips, etc.
Once I'm prepared, ideally, I'd like to visit multiple countries. I don't know how long I'd want to be gone. Sometimes when I think about it, more than five years. When I imagine my adventure, I see myself settling in a place for a period of time, living with a family that agreed to take me in and give me work. I don't want to go by an itinerary or travel guide, but rather where I feel I should go. A full blown adventure. One you can write a book about, full of breath-taking moments.
At some point, it would be amazing to turn this into a profession. Taking pictures of all the sights around the world, and writing articles for travel magazines.
There was a time when I imagined my adventure as hitchhiking my way around the world, and going with the lowest budget, no matter how gritty. Like taking a boat and island hopping or taking a straight shot to the other side of the world. I don't think it's possible, but I wanted to avoid as much government interaction as possible, like wandering through a forest to get into the next country, because there can't be a solid wall built all the way around.
I wanted to go completely off the grid. Visit Italy and fulfill a promise I made to myself. Learn martial arts in China, Muay Thai in Thailand, and whatever else I could find. I wanted to live with monks in China, experience their way of life and find peace.
So, if someone has read to this point, or just skipped ahead, what is the likelihood I can go on with my plan? Is it really possible to go off grid, and avoid customs, and all the complicated political and official business? If you go into a country, do they give you an allotted amount of time to stay before they hunt you down, bind and gag you, and ship you home?
It was a lot to type. Greg knows I type a lot. I just felt a need to put my story and ideas among like minded people. My parents don't totally understand, so I've avoided telling them most of it, because, for the most part, they're apart of the 'Rat Race'. My dad owns a manufacturing company, making aerospace parts for Boeing and such. My mom is a part of the company too. They're pretty 'practical', wanting me to stay safe, go to college, and work a job just as them, forcing myself to believe that an occasional vacation or outing is contentment. I also know they want me to be happy, and will most likely allow me to do as I wish, but not without the normal parental opposition first.
So, that's my story. In a small, mostly blank book, I'm writing an extended version. Experiences that shaped me, philosophies, my promises to myself, and my plan. I still find it strange I developed these ideas, while my parents are somewhat the opposite. I guess I was born a vagabond, or I'm just self-raised with the help of outside sources!