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The Goodbye Apparatus

I’m beginning to wonder if my way of making big changes seem easier is to just change everything all at once.

A relationship comes to an end, I change my career path. I move to a new city, my friends, hobbies and habits all seem to change. I didn’t really see the pattern until somewhat recently. But this behavior has, however, become common enough over the years that I have given it a name. I’m calling it, “the goodbye apparatus.”

Three weeks ago, I graduated from college. One week ago, I moved out of the apartment I had been in for three years. And six days from now, I’ll be on a one-way flight to Belize, with just a backpack of clothes and books, and no specific return date home.

But before I get to more of the what I am doing, let me try and better unpack the why.

As terrific as the last few years have been for me, I feel that I’ve unintentionally picked up a number of not-so-good habits, and let slip some other, more-beneficial ones. This has created a shift in my overall lifestyle that I do not fully enjoy and am not necessarily proud of. I need to get back to a place where I read and write more, a place where I exercise and eat better. I need to spend more time outside, watch less TV, and stay off social media. I also need to find ways to create more free time and utilize it more efficiently.

That wasn’t supposed to sound like some sort of New Year’s resolution — but whatever.

Normally I would say, the best way to break a bad habit is to pinpoint the reward you’re getting from it, and then find a better way to achieve the same result. But I just don’t think that will work this time. So, I am going to do something different. I’m going to focus on the rewards of the positive habits I’m trying to revive.

In other words, I’m looking for re-education, adventure, mental stimulation and uncertainty. All of which, and more, I’m sure I will find solo-traveling through Central America. Mostly, I want to set the tone for what kind of a writer I’m going to be, and what the next phase of my life is going to look like — daily habits and all.

While writing this, I stumbled across a great quote that I think explains (part of) my reasoning a bit more eloquently than I have.

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you’re meant to be in the first place.”

Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. But either way, I’m sure it’s going to be something new and different and exciting. I suppose the only thing I’m certain about, going into this trip, is the uncertainty of it all. When anyone asks me where exactly I plan to go, why I plan to go there, and what comes next after I get back, I really don’t have a definitive answer to give them — and I guess that’s the beauty of it.

Again I have found myself in a unique situation, where I am essentially untethered to a specific place, and unburdened by social or financial responsibilities, but this time, it feels more purposeful than before. I’m essentially free to go and do what feels right for me.

And apparently what feels right to me is uprooting myself from all familiarity, streamlining my existence down to whatever will fit in the corner of my brothers garage, and setting out to spend (roughly) the next three months making my way through Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

I have learned through lifestyle experimentation that growth comes rapidly and overtly by doing things that scare me, by putting myself in situations where I might be uncomfortable. Every time I’ve traveled alone, I’ve come back appreciative of the experience.

It almost feels like I’m starting over from scratch. As if everything from here on is a blank slate with no determined trajectory. How terrifying — yet infinitely exciting.

Stayed tuned, friends!

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