I’m 38 years old. I’m married, and have 2 children. They are 6, and 4 years old. I’ve had the same job for 18 years, and I have no intention of leaving it. I love my work. Although I earn a good living, I’m an important part of the business I work in, and that makes it hard to leave on vacation at times.
When I got out of high school, I moved from Kent, Ohio to California, and worked easy jobs that I was willing to walk away from. For 3 summers in a row, I quit my job, moved out of my house, and drove around the country with friends. We spent the better part of 3 months on the road. Mostly we would find skateboard parks to ride, and meet other skaters around the country. Skateboarding was a very small community back then, and many of them gave us food and shelter. I think the most money I ever saved to do this was $600, and I did not get jobs along the way. I had visited 45 states by the time I was 20.
After a lot of deliberation, I decided to take 2 weeks off and to ride the Great Divide Trail. As I type this, I’m on the way home from the ride, and I’d like to share what I got out of this experience.
I’m not having a mid-life crises. I’m not going to quit my job and move to the mountains, and I’m definitely not going to run away from my wife and kids. That much I’m positive about. I am a changed person, though. Riding the Great Divide reminded me of what an adventurous spirit I have. It taught me that once in a while, you have to stop doing your boring tasks that you do every day, and to go out and gain some new experience. And you have to make this happen. Nobody else is going to do it for you. 2400 miles of reading difficult maps, and unmarked trails taught me patience, and flexibility. I pushed my physical self, and I got lots and lots of time to think.
This trip has energized me to live more in the moment, and to get more out of it. I’m not going to throw away my long-range goals, or stop saving for retirement, but when I’m home, I’m going to make sure that I’m tuned in to what is going on right at that moment. When I’m at work, I’m going to push harder to hit goals to allow more flexibility in not only my schedule, but in all of my co-workers schedule, too.
I’m going to do the best I can to support the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. I’m sure glad they were there when I needed them most. My wife and I started a fundraising walk in 2007 named Walk for Babies. We have an annual fundraising walk where 800-1000 people show up to raise money, and share stories. Collectively, we have raised over $300,000 for the NICU over the past 6 years. Feel free to donate to our cause. Our team name is The Panthers.
Lastly, I’m going to take other trips like this. Some will be with my family, and some will be with my friends, because I think that absence makes the heart grow fond, and you can learn a lot when your perspective changes. I know that I have the last 2 weeks.
Hope to see you out there!