“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” The first time that I heard Brad Pitt’s quote in the movie Fight Club, I didn’t really put any thought into it but for some reason, the passage stuck with me in my mind.
I was hiking in Colombia when this quote randomly popped in my head and I began to think how it applied to me. I interpreted the quote as leaving all my possessions, bills and anything that tied me town to a monotonous life. It was on this hike that I realised that it was when I had a destination ahead of me that I was free. It doesn’t matter where I’m at or where I’m going. As long as I have a destination, I’m free. I’m living life like it is my last day on Earth because one of these days it will be the last.
I’m a firm believer of another quote in Fight Club. “The things that we own end up owning us.”
So many people live to work in order to fulfil the belief that materialism equals happiness. The vicious cycle of buying a nice car to get to a job, only to work to pay off the car. By the time the month is over, most of us are out of money, having to worry about next month and what we can buy.
Why? We are programmed to believe that possessions equals happiness. Who really needs a nice car, designer clothes, a fancy phone or an entire room dedicated to television? It is these possessions that prevent us from being free. The list of things that we own that end up owning us grows with every purchase that we make. Instead of this lifestyle, I decided to work to live, to see the world and experience all that I could before I die.
I made myself that promise twenty years ago when my family took me to visit relatives in Tokyo, Japan. I saw all the latest gadgets that they had with all the bells and whistles. The toilet seat with a remote control attached to it. The latest brand name…whatever it was. I learned that our hosts worked six days and 60-80 hours a week in order to keep up their lifestyle. I made the promise to myself twenty years ago and I have not broken that promise today.
Looking back at that promise? I could not be happier. Instead of possessions that own me, it is the lust for experiences and the desire to go places that I have dreamed about since I can remember. After my trip to Japan I bought a huge wall map and hung it next to my bed. Over the years before I was old enough to travel independently I drew countless lines on the map; itineraries of where I wanted to go and dreaming what life would be like on the lines that I drew. Now that I am older and I have traveled, I have been able to replace lines of old itineraries with pins that take their place.
Each pin represents to me a time and place that I will remember forever and an experience that is unique to me. New lines and new dreams of where to go next continue to fill the map as well as newly placed pins. Every time I get on an airplane, bus, boat or any other mode of transportation to a new place I am free. I am free from the job that I worked at in order to save money. I am free from the gadget that kept me tied down with monthly payments. I am free from the fear, doubt and disbelief that I would not be able to travel.
I have been on a trip for the last five months in South America and it is ending tomorrow. These last five months have been spent living fantasies that I dreamed about as a kid and experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. When my friends ask me why I do it my response is this: “The greatest risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” Get out off the couch and travel. Find that place that makes you feel free. Be free of everything that holds you back from doing what you want to do.
About the Author: Tyler Brooks: Tyler has always had a world map posted on his wall with trips planned out and places pinned to-go. After meeting his wife in Colorado, they moved to Thailand, her home country. After 4 years in Thailand, he is back in Colorado saving money for a house and for the ever lasting thirst for travel. Read more from Tyler.