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Order Considerations

My new nonfiction book, Considerations, is now available as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook through various online and in-person booksellers.

Snag yourself the ebook:

Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Gumroad.

Or perhaps the paperback:

Amazon

Or maybe even the audiobook:

Amazon/Audible

Or ask your favorite independent bookstore to order you a copy, if they don’t have one in stock.

About the book:

Few of us take the time to consider. We act according to data acquired by viewing the world from a single perspective: our own. As a result, we don’t always think to ask certain questions that, when answered, may benefit us greatly. We don’t do important things because we never think them worth doing. We don’t assess unfamiliar facets of life, even though such scrutiny might change everything about how we live.

A well-curated collection of perspectives is one of the most valuable assets a person can possess, and the ability to filter those perspectives — to figure out which of them has value for us as individuals, and which are not relevant to our unique beliefs and goals — is vital.

Considerations is about asking questions, attaining new perspectives, figuring out what you believe, and determining how these beliefs can help guide your actions. The book is formatted as a series of over fifty short essays which are intended to spark ideas, questions, and thoughtfulness in those who read them.

30 Days of Doing

It’s important that we know ourselves and have an idea of which direction we want to go, and it’s vital that we act in such a way that we move in the right direction while continuously calibrating to ensure we’re hitting the mark most accurately, and not missing out on indications that we might be walking the wrong path.

30 Days of Doing was written alongside Considerations as a companion piece: the latter focused on asking the right questions and achieving new perspectives, while the former is about making course-adjustments a normal part of your day, and experimenting with your life to get the most out of the time you have.

This work is presented as a 30-day email series, and once purchased (for $2.99), you’ll receive a new email each day for a month. Each email presents a concept and action; something you can do immediately, or an experiment worth scheduling at some point in the future. Each piece is actionable, though, and intended to help spark some new way of seeing the world, or means of determining which path is most ideal for you and what you want out of life.

To subscribe to 30 Days of Doing, click here.

Blog

Getting Lost

There’s a game I play with myself when I want to explore a city but don’t have a particular destination in mind.

I start walking and I follow the signals and signs provided along the way. I turn left and cross the street because the little glowing walking man indicates that I should. If I encounter an intersection without stoplights, I keep going straight, but at the next such intersection I go right, and at the next I turn left, and continue to circulate between the options at each new opportunity. When I see a coffee shop I’d like to try, or a museum I’d like to explore, or a shop I’d like to peruse, or a park where I’d like to sit and write for a bit, I pull myself from the game, starting again when I’m back on the street.

This is a great way to find new areas of a familiar city, or to push yourself out the door in an unfamiliar place; it’s easy to be overwhelmed by options, and this game gives you permission to just go. To discover without planning. To allow chance and circumstance to take the wheel for a while.

It also allows you to get lost. One of the more valuable ways to learn a city — to learn not just the colors and smells and pace and noises, but also how to read them, analyze them, and use them to get where you want to go — is to get lost, then figure out how to get back to your starting position.

It’s difficult to achieve true randomness. Generally when we head off in a ‘random’ direction, what we’re really doing is taking one side street from our usual route to a familiar part of town, or heading in the exact opposite direction from our default path, avoiding anything familiar at all. These can both be useful methods, but the former lacks the potential for extreme new-ness, while the latter eliminates your ability to see the familiar from a different perspective: a landmark from your usual route, viewed from across the street, for example.

After years of playing this game, I’ve found that the feeling of being ‘lost’ slowly becomes less of a scary jump into the unknown, and more an intentional reaching out into the world, looking for novel stimuli and finding it. Bringing it home to study in private. Wondering if it’s worth working in to your normal routine. Wondering if that normal routine should be shifted in some meaningful way.

That may mean identifying a better way to work. It may mean finding a coffee shop you like better than the one you usually visit. Or it may mean reinforcing that the commute you currently make and coffee you currently drink are still the best available options, based on what you’re looking for.

Consider how getting lost can be about more than just learning your environment. How it can be a means of pulling yourself out of your norms, habits, self-perceptions, and into a space where you’re less certain and more able to explore. More capable of taking a wrong turn and not worrying about it. More able to explore your myriad options and wonder whether this job, this lifestyle, this relationship, this responsibility, this goal, this whatever, is actually what’s best for you and your happiness.

Upon returning ‘home’ to your norm from some great adventure, whether external or internal, you might realize that you’re more at home elsewhere. It could be that getting lost is the only way to find your way back to a home — a more ideal life — you didn’t even know existed.

Blog

Calibrate for Travel

A massive misconception I try and stomp out whenever possible is that you have to be wealthy to travel.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m not wealthy. Most of the people I know who travel regularly aren’t wealthy. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have more money to spend on travel, but it’s not a requirement. It opens up more options, but in some ways also makes a person less likely to find the really good stuff; more on why, below.

Unfortunately, money isn’t the only misperception most people have about travel. It’s these misperceptions that I want to tackle as concisely as possible, and in hopes that more options will seem viable; the world a larger, more accessible place.

I Don’t Have Enough Money

This may be true. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or can’t afford to eat, I would recommend taking care of that situation before you start perusing for discounted plane tickets. Travel might be the goal you need to pay off some debt that’s been hanging over your head, or to pursue a better paying job.

If you’re able to pull together a few hundred dollars, though, you have the means to travel. Maybe not to one of those places people go on their honeymoons, but certainly to some city beyond the one in which you live. And the whole purpose of travel is to expose yourself to something new: to experience novelty and a different perspective for a time.

Overland travel is generally both cheaper than flying, and more of an adventure. It allows you to see the spaces between places, and those spaces seldom adorn postcards and are seldom found in guidebooks. It’s there that, so long as you leave yourself open to such things, you’ll find opportunities and adventures.

Adventures are seldom found along a pre-prescribed path (though there’s nothing wrong with guided tours, either: they just tend to be more expensive and predictable), and restrictions on how you travel (say, you can only afford a bus ticket) tend to also force you to be more creative and put you in the position to encounter more than you would otherwise (can’t afford a hotel, so you stay with a local and see what only the locals see).

Consider that we live in the future, as and such have access to all kinds of tools that make travel cheaper. Communities like Couchsurfing are oriented toward finding locals who have spare furniture you can sleep on, and who may be willing to show you where the locals eat and drink.

Facebook and Twitter and Instagram can be equally useful for this task — more and more I find myself making local connections through friends of friends, rather than through sites like Couchsurfing, and I think that speaks to the evolution of social networks and the mainstream social acceptance of such communities. As time goes by and our parents become comfortable with social networks, we suddenly have more access to people who aren’t backpackers or adventurers; just friendly folks who live in Chattanooga who wouldn’t mind at all if you slept in their spare bedroom, and who would love to take you out to their favorite coffee shop. Who want to make sure you leave their hometown with fond memories and new connections.

I Don’t Have Enough Time

This is a more difficult hurdle in some ways than feeling that you don’t have enough money, as there are any number of ways to reduce the cost of travel or save more money for it, but fewer that can reduce the time-cost of a given lifestyle.

That being said, it is possible to orient your life toward travel, the same way you would to incorporate any other hobby into your habits. If you were planning to start swimming in a serious way, you would free up more time by reducing the amount of time you spend playing video games, watching TV, or out drinking with friends. “I’ll pass on the bar tonight,” you’d say, “I’m going to hit the pool, instead.” You work it into your schedule, even though that schedule seemed full before you tried.

Likewise, if you brush aside life’s inessentials — particularly the habits that exists purely as a means of de-stressing or decompressing after work or your other responsibilities, or just as a means of killing time — you might be amazed at how much time you have available to take an overnight trip to the town a few hours away, or to hop a bus for a weekend at the Grand Canyon. The more you incorporate travel into your lifestyle, the more you make time for it. Your goals will change, too, and you’ll find yourself saving a few bucks here and there for your next jaunt, and the whole rigamarole will become quite easy and passive.

You needn’t travel full-time to make travel a regular part of your life. I know people who work full-time jobs and have kids, and who still manage to visit cities they’ve never visited twice a month for a few days at a time. If you want it enough, you can make it happen. It’s just a matter of prioritizing your time and saying “I’m going to do this,” then figuring out how to make it work using the tools and resources you have available.

Travel Is Dangerous

Like driving or walking to the store, travel can be dangerous, yes. But like those other two activities, the risk is worth it, and is generally not too severe, so long as you aren’t consistently drunk, high, or rude to locals.

Learn a bit about the place you’re going, and treat the area the same way you’d treat the home of someone who’s invited you over for dinner. Respect the house rules and be polite. Don’t get drunk and start breaking things, and don’t be condescending or argue that your house is better.

If you find that the house rules are morally abhorrent to the point where you can’t stomach them, don’t make a scene — just thank your hosts and leave the house. Simple as that.

There are places where crime is more of an issue than others, and there are simple precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of being victimized, like keeping your wallet in your front pocket, avoiding crowded tourist-heavy areas, and not leaving your purse unattended where someone might snatch it and run off. Be aware of your surroundings and hang out with locals, when possible, as they’ll know best which threats are genuine and which are just our own internal warning sensors going haywire due to the unfamiliar setting.

Meeting and learning from locals is the secret weapon of any experienced traveler; figure out a means of making such a connection, respect them and their time, and try and make the experience just as rewarding for them, whether it means buying lunch or offering to show them your city, if they want to come visit.

Remember that in most cases, the threats back home are just as real and likely as they are elsewhere. I was more likely to get robbed in Los Angeles than I was while traveling South America, but the latter seemed like the larger threat because I was more familiar with the former. Keep this in mind and don’t let concerns over things that are unlikely to happen keep you from exploring and making the unfamiliar, familiar.

Recalibration

Calibrating toward travel is really about recalibrating away from things that are less important to you. It’s about prioritizing the freedom of movement and exploration, rather than spending all of your time, money, and other resources on the perceived security of possessions and locked doors.

It requires that we put more trust in others, invest in ourselves and our own ability to roll with the punches, and pull apart the traditional view of travel: that we see it not as a luxury item suitable only for honeymoons and holidays, but a common aspect of life we consistently invest in, like any other hobby or happiness-inducing necessity.

Travel isn’t for everyone, but for those who love it, want it, desire it, are set afire by it, there’s no reason not to do it more often. Look out into the world, figure out where you want to go, and then determine how you’re going to get there. Cobble together a plan and take the first step immediately. Do this frequently enough, and the hurdles — what hurdles there are, anyway — will get lower and lower until they disappear completely.