Every commercial that I skip through on TV all seem to start with those same ominous words, “In these uncertain times.” It didn’t take long for brands and advertisers to switch gears and create a cavalcade of ads featuring people trapped at home and masks as far as the eye can see. I sort of appreciate the effort, it would’ve been tone deaf to keep running ads with scores of people hanging out together, doing something other than baking bread (how dare they?!). But the truth is, while one ad is a nice gesture, EVERY ad becomes just as depressing to watch as the news. So that’s the spirit I’m trying to avoid here today. I’m tired of writing about being melancholy or uncertain, we’re all sad and confused so that’s nothing new. No, instead I want to wax poetic about normal life events, simple occasions for celebration and whether or not I should go on marking their passage or wait until the new normal has finally arrived?
After ten years of writing posts for LandLopers, I have absolutely developed a sort of routine. One of my traditions is to recognize important anniversaries that are related to both this site and my travel experiences. I’ve enjoyed these posts because they have normally offered me an important opportunity to reflect and reassess where I’ve been and where I’m going, respectively. This year I missed these important anniversaries because I more or less put this site on pause during the COVID-19 quarantine. No one was traveling, no one was reading travel content and I honestly wasn’t in the mood to trumpet my own success at having merely survived another year. As we all begin to emerge from our forced vernal hibernation, I started to think about these missed occasions, which led me on a mental wild goose chase into the concept of anniversaries and I very honestly asked myself whether or not 2020 is just a year I should skip when it comes to these suddenly mundane events?
The quick answer is no, of course not. Now, more than ever, if we can do something that makes us happy and comes close to approaching the normal that we used to know, then we should do it. Some folks have been shy about sharing these moments with others though, which is a shame. With so much going on in the world right now, we all need to see these moments of joy and to know that something better is coming. It has to, right? So with all of this in mind I’ve briefly consolidated a few of my normal anniversary posts into one as a way for me to keep dreaming and thinking about brighter days ahead.
10 Years of Blogging
In a more normal year I would have had a blow-out celebration for hitting the decade mark, hosting giveaways and so on. But it’s 2020, so a paragraph will have to suffice. On March 14, 2010 I hit the publish button on my very first blog post. At the time though I of course had no idea the chain of events I had unleashed. Over the years I learned and improved, and my ability to fuse together a few words and match them with photos gradually became second nature. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for as long as I have, it’s actually the longest job I’ve ever had. That alone says something, it says that I made the right choice to hit the publish button that first time, I made the right choice to leave my traditional job 8 years ago and, with many stumbles along the way, I’m still making the right choices when it comes to this strange not-so-new-anymore career of mine. I’ve learned and observed a lot over the years though and I hope that personal growth is reflected on this site.
Podcasting Year One
To be fair, I first had the idea to start a podcast many years ago but for some unknown reason I put it off until 2019. I’m thrilled that I bit the bullet and started though because it’s now my favorite thing to do. No matter what we do for a living, we all need multiple arrows in our quivers; different skill sets that we bring to the table. For a very long time I was conducting my business with little change. That’s part of who I am; I like order and processes and once I find ones that work, I tend to never deviate. That has its inherent problems, and realizing this personality quirk has taken me a long time to fully comprehend. Not only did I need a new skill set, I needed something different to do. When I was working in a traditional career, I tended to skip around from one employer to the next. The main reason for this was that I got very bored very fast. I’d start a new job, face a challenge, spend a couple of years addressing it and then I was done. I’ve never been the kind of person who could stay in one job for 40 years, and I should’ve realized that this would also carry over to life as a self-employed creative. The podcast has been a fantastic way to shake things up a bit and, most importantly, I’ve been having a lot of fun doing it so far.
8 Years Without a Real Job
It seems inconceivable to me that it’s been eight years since I last stepped into an office as a traditional 9-5 worker, but May was the anniversary for this important event. My old job and I left each other as I like to put it, and ever since I’ve been working hard and grinding every day to make my true passion in life – travel – my primary occupation. Just as unlikely, I’ve somehow made it work although it certainly hasn’t been easy. Nothing in life is easy, and being a self-employed entrepreneur definitely is a challenge. But I understand now the importance of following one’s gut instincts and, at times, being a little selfish in order to realize one’s full potential and to live the best life possible. So yes, every year I will write a post like this one and share it around the interwebs, not to show off or to brag, but as a reminder to myself that what I’ve done is special and deeply impactful. Talking about travel may seem flippant to some, but it has very much saved my life and soul in every way imaginable.
I travel a lot, that’s safe to say. I’ve been to nearly 100 countries and all 7 continents and have had some truly amazing journeys along the way. There are trips though that are more important than others, ones that changed me and made me better, ones that I well and truly loved and can’t wait to try again. Perhaps the most notable of these adventures was when I had the great opportunity to drive the entirety of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Sure, Route 66 transects the country, exposes drivers to all sorts of new places and people, including those quirky stops that have become the stuff of legend. But, unlike most other trips, Route 66 isn’t at all about those stops, it’s about the drive itself. In this instance, getting there IS the adventure. It’s about tracing the footsteps of travelers before us, hoping to catch a glimpse of their American view, at least in part to rediscover one’s love for the country. That was the unintended consequence for me. In an age when many of us are upset by the daily machinations of politicians, it was important for me to get out into the nation and to see for myself that it is still indeed a great country. I was also reminded of an important travel truth, that most people everywhere around the world are good hearted and kind, and that’s especially true here in the U.S.
Anniversaries have always been important and nothing will change this, not even 2020. As humans it’s critical that we recognize our own successes, reflect on the paths we have taken and to take heart in making some right choices along the way. It’s an important part of social life and it’s one that of course has to continue, even when it seems so insignificant in comparison to the larger issues of the day. So thank you for allowing me this slight diversion from the ordinary to give myself that annual pat on the back as I decide what the next steps in my own journey should look like.