Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leaving Home

Last night a few of my good friends surprised me with a going away party. Family, friends from home, and friends that I haven't seen in years all showed for a barbecue and we played games all night long. I was a little suspicious of what had been planned for the night, I just know when a best friends is up to something, but nevertheless, I was still really surprised at who all showed up. The night  was a success, and I was very grateful to those who put it together and also everyone who showed up to support me on my trip.

I will miss a lot of people. I will miss a lot of fun summer road trips, rock climbing, and killer surf, but that's about it. Today, I have never felt more ready to leave. And while I love my family and friends, I can feel a strange force pulling me away from home, away from those who have shaped me into the man I am today, and into the world that I do not know, the man of tomorrow who is calling me onward.

My trip was supposed to start on Friday, when I will fly out to New York, but I couldn't wait that long. I decided to prelude my trip by going to Hume Lake on Tuesday. Two of my friends, Jordan and George, dropped all of their plans to make it happen. Neither of them have very much money, and I have very little to spend before arriving in Greece, so were gonna buy two loaves of bread, some peanut butter and jelly, and live off that for the next three days. We're not telling anyone at Hume that were coming. We will just show up, and hope to find a place to crash for two nights.

With Tuesday coming up, I have so much to do in just a day and a half. I need to move out of my room, it is likely I will not live in it again (After Greece I will be moving to San Diego for school). I also need to wash and clean out my car and leave it looking nice for my grandparents, who will be using it over summer. There is some unsettled conflict with a friend I just learned about that I would like to straighten out before I leave, but we can hardly find time. Most importantly, I need to say good-by to family here in Temecula.

Thankfully, because of the nature of my trip, packing took me about 20 minutes: 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of pants, 3 shirts, 4 underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 1 jacket, books, journal, coffee french press, camera, headlight, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Packing light is essential because I will have my pack on my back every minute of every day. I had to get rid of half the clothes I originally had to make room for my french press. Coffee is just as essential.

The stress is closing in, pressure from all sides that I can hardly stand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Greece?

Alot of people have been asking me concerning my travels, why Greece? And it's not an easy question to answer because I have not really thought about it. Why is Greece more special than any other location on the globe, and its culture better than any others? My answer is that Greece isn't any better, but for me, it was a matter of just choosing a place.

It is common I think to do the whole Eurotrip thing and see all of Europe. From the beginning, I knew I did not want to do this. When your visiting 15 or more countries in just a month or two, it must be hard to really experience any one culture. The main objective of my trip this summer is to experience a different culture then my own, and to do this I knew I had to just pick one.

For a long time I had been wanting to read The Iliad and The Odyssey, and this last semester at school I was given the opportunity to read them for my philosophy class. Last year in school I took a class on art history and my favorite period was ancient Greek and Roman architecture; I always thought it would be amazing to see the stuff in person. These are just a few things that got me thinking about Greece, and while they have romanticized my idea of the country, they have nevertheless made the decision to go to Greece an easy one to make.

Now, I am careful of this romanticism, and try to dismiss some of the expectations that have come out of it. I have heard this is the best things to do when traveling, and I imagine it would be a good thing to do in all of life.

In a week I leave for Greece, only with a "short" two week detour in New York. I swear it will be the longest two weeks of my life, but I have a family reunion in upstate New York that I am really excited about. I will be seeing much of my family from all over the country. The rest of my time will be spent in Manhattan and then Philadelphia, where I am visiting The Simple Way (, a community of Christians simply living the way the Bible teaches. After that, I will be on my way to Greece for a whole two months and then England for a week. It was cheaper airfare this way. I do not have a ticket yet from Greece to England. I purposefully left this detail of my trip unknown, to leave room for spontaneity. When I arrive in Greece I have a place to stay for the first three nights in Athens. After that, everything is up in the air.

People have been asking if I am nervous? I don't think the reality of the trip has actually hit me yet. Or maybe it's just the opposite; I am so sure of this trip and have been convinced of it for so long that I am more than ready. I am prepared in my mind and in my heart, not so much in body (where I will go or eat or sleep), but I think the unfinished details are the most beautiful thing about it. There is currently very little room for fear in my pool of emotions, but only excitement for the unknown, confidence in vulnerability, enthusiasm for a land I have not visited and for a people I have not met.

Gone With the Routine (At Least For a Summer)

Today is the day of my finals, and I still consider it to be my day off. After a weekend like the one that just passed, I would do anything anywhere so long as i can do it while sitting in a chair all day. Plus, school has never been very hard for me, and this semester's classes have been much easier than the one's previous. As for my weekend, beginning Thursday night I worked over 50 hours between my two jobs, and that was after a normal week going to school full time and working Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nothing about me agrees with working this much, living to work and being a slave to making money, but i haven't been doing it for 6 months under normal circumstances, either. I have been saving my money, spending very little on food and gas, not making any big purchases either, accept for the ones that have to do with Greece. $1600 on airfare to New York, to Bulgaria, Hungary, all the way to Greece, to England, Germany, and back home to Los Angeles seemed like a good deal to me.

This is why I work so much. Because when its so easy to be pressured by society into normalcy, to pursue the same American Dream as everyone else of wealth, success, and power, to go in debt for life in school, get a neat, life-long career, keep up with the nicest and newest of cars, marry a cute and done up wife, go into further debt on a house, have a few kids and spoil them like crazy, and compete with your friends for the nicest two week vacation - I will escape first for a summer, but eventually for life, into the unknown and foreign corners of the earth. I will have no plan, no expectation, no where to be, and very little security. I will be vulnerable to the world, the good that can be found in it, but also the bad. I will be in a constant state of learning where all of life will be my teacher.

For a summer, and eventually, for a lifetime, I will be on a journey to loose myself, and discover the life there is to be had. If life was a dreamer, I imagine it would be waiting to be had by everybody. I think that not even two people can have an identical experience. Even if they are both present at the same place at the same time, life would reveal itself differently to each of them. Inconceivable is the amount of experience and wisdom in the world waiting to be discovered. I am on a journey to grab ahold of my share, just as a son would receive his inheritance in the times of old. Life is an inheritance that far too many people, like Isaac, are willing to give up for a mere scrap of bread. Actually, it was soup, but it was only enough to sustain until the very next meal, while an inheritance can sustain for life.