Sitting in Seoul Gimpo Airport waiting to board my flight to Tokyo, I realized that Japan would be the 30th country that I’ve visited in the last 2.5 years. This led to a massive grin and a period of intense reflection about my last few years and the travel experiences that characterized it.It is not the number of places that brought me so much joy. In regards to the happiness that I’ve felt when I’ve traveled, the quality was much more important that the quantity.
Since I quit my job and stable life in America, I’ve met innumerable wonderful people in new fascinating places. In fact, never did I imagine that I’d get to experience even half of the countries, cities, villages, and countrysides that I’ve visited these past few years. I definitely didn’t picture myself calling Turkey, South Korea, or the U.K. home. But all these things happened, and I won’t credit luck, good fortune, or a rich family that some readers might falsely assume that I have. I had these experiences because I made them. I chose (and continue to choose) to spend my money on experiences rather than material goods. I dreamed something then went out and got it (and more). I do not intend for this to sound boastful or ideological, because it isn’t. I simply decided at one point to start choosing my happiness, my way. Sure, this may take a bit of planning and/or a bit of work, but looking back on my last few years forces me to believe that anything is possible- no excuses. Your dream or even immediate desire does not have to be traveling to 30 countries or even seeing any other part of the world. It can be something as simple as going camping for the weekend or learning to roller skate. It’s the quality of your time, not the quantity of various events, that will lead to happiness and fulfillment. Some of- actually, many of- my favorite and most memorable times throughout this crazy ride have been of little external influence and importance: finally starting a fire after many failed attempts in a storm, eating cheese from a goat that I milked the day before, cycling to the top of a mountain without stopping to push my bike, crossing a border on foot, drinking with the friendliest locals even though I knew I’d probably never see them again… the list goes on.
These past few years have been filled with incredible learning experiences and small daily joys, and there’s no end in sight for me. Infinite opportunities lie ahead, and I’m sure not going to skip out on them.
Here’s to you, Japan, my lucky number 30. I hope you rock my ass off, too.