Each Journey Begins with One Single Step


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao-tzu

If you would have asked me 5 years ago ” where do you see yourself in 5 years?” , I wouldn’t have had an answer, at least not a good one. You see, I finally came to the realization 5 years ago that my mother was right, I needed to settle down and be normal. My Mother knew me better than that but turning 40 started me thinking more and more about security. I had a very good job, I had a beautiful 3 bedroom apt in an upscale neighborhood,  I went out and bought real furniture for the first time in my life. I had everything a normal person is supposed to have, and I became that normal person living that normal life.

Make your choice, Adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell, and bide the danger,
Or wonder ’till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had
-C.S. Lewis

The next thing on my normal person list was a vacation. Everything was going particularly well in my life except for the fact I was working non stop,  sometimes 7 days a week and usually 12 hours a day, but thats what normal people do…right?

I hadn’t taken a vacation in over 5 years and that was only to a local destination so I started thinking in a global sense. I had always wanted to see South East Asia and after a few weeks of research Thailand was the destination. I didn’t know it at the time and I had no reason to think it would be a life changing decision, but it was. I still find it hard to describe how I felt when I first visited Thailand but as I have said more than a few times I definitely felt like a better version of myself, more aware of my surroundings and who I was.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. — Martin Buber

It’s safe to say the mundane absurdity I was calling a normal life was a lie. I didn’t want the desperation of the 9-5 job, the mortgage, the wife and 2.3 kids and just why the hell did I have a complete dining room set when I never had anyone over for dinner? I deluded myself into thinking that this was the American dream and this is what I was supposed to be. Thailand changed my game plan.

When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.– D. H. Lawrence

I was back in the kingdom within 6 months and for an extended period of time. Sometime after my second trip and planning my third my mother looked at me with a serious smirk and asked me when I would be moving to Thailand,  I thought about it for a second and asked her where that came from, her answer? “I know you too well, and this is exactly something you would do, when you get it in your mind there is no stopping you”. She was right, and I knew it. As a matter of fact I knew it from my first trip to Thailand.

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken. -Frank Herbert

A lot of things have changed in my life over the past few years and the plan of living in Thailand has been put off and set aside but never forgotten. The normal life I was striving for was forgotten and with the economic crisis it was driven home to me that there is no such thing as a normal life and that life is for the living and should be craved like water after a 50 mile walk through a desert. “One day” is the mantra of the conformist who lives by the rules of the normal society, “Today” is my mantra and as you read this I am in the air heading to Thailand where I will begin a new chapter in my life.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller

There is a plan of sorts but it’s not a detailed list of daily, monthly and yearly things. I want to explore and find out more about the Kingdom of Thailand and about myself. Many emotions are scurrying through my brain and have been for some time. Elation, joy, sadness, trepidation and of course fear…I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless…but in a good scared shitless kinda way.

Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white. – Mark Jenkins

I don’t want to know that my life will be a certain way in 20 years and I will have a house that is paid for and a child in college and a social security check to look forward too. I want the future to be a present that I get to open every day and be surprised with. Some days the present may make me happy and,  as is always the case,  I’m sure some presents will disappoint, it’s all part of living life. I don’t want to be that guy on his death bed wondering what if? I want to have no regrets and take the chance.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Sure, this grand experiment with my life may not turn out as I planned, but seeing as I kept the planning to a minimum I won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t and who knows I might be disappointed even if it turns out well. I haven’t neglected the essentials such as insurance, visa’s, shelter, money and a strategic bail out plan which involves a plane ticket and my brothers couch…joking…”he says, hopefully” :)

Right now I am the richest man in the world because I have friends, family and the uncertainty of what tomorrow brings as I live my life on my terms.

I am reminded of many traveler’s quotes at the moment, some of which I have shared throughout this post but the one that stands out in my mind from a comfortable old book  is the one I’ll leave you with today as I begin my journey.

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door, You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. – J.R.R. Tolkien


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15 Responses to Each Journey Begins with One Single Step
  1. Paul Garrigan
    August 20, 2010 | 10:36 am

    Excellent post Talen. I agree with you 100%. We put the limits on ourselves – or I suppose our fear does. This means that we are willing to settle for a lot less because we are afraid that what we will find it we take a chance will be a lot worse than what we have. This means that we end up settling for things that are so much less than what we can achieve. I was once prepared to settle for the self-destruction of addiction because I feared that was as good as it gets.

    My experience is that we have to take a risk if we are to achieve anything. I also believe it is almost a duty that we try and achieve our dreams. Anything is possible. A few years back I’d given up all hope and was literally ready to die at 35; compare this with six months ago when I was back in my home country appearing on TV and radio and signing books. I’m not saying this to boast, but to make clear that the person limiting us is ourselves. This might sound like some mumbo-jumbo hippy positive speaking, but it works. If we take chances we can get the rewards; if we don’t take chances we are stuck with what we have. If you like what you have then that is fair enough – but a lot of us aren’t. We are stuck with what we have because of fear.

    I have no idea how your life will turn out and I’ve no idea how mine is going to turn out. What I do know is that we have to take chances if we want to achieve anything. Good luck to you and thanks for a great post. I hope it inspires other people.

  2. Joe
    August 20, 2010 | 10:50 am

    Go for your sense of adventure Talen, but know eventually when time is no longer on your side.

    Have a ball in your adventures in life.

  3. malcolm
    August 20, 2010 | 11:13 am

    Talen , Hurray for you , you’re going to enjoy this new adventure in your life , visiting (you’ve done lots ) and living are two different things, as you will soon find out . travel , sightsee as a person living here , eat like theres no tommorow and enjoy it , and don’t forget to always be Kind and Patience, as they the Thai’s are not like us westerners, a lot of things that are sooooo important to us , never make it on their list of important things , soooo Mai pen rai , will serve you well , but it has to be from your heart and not your head or it want be any fun at all . take care and call if you’re ever down Whang Pho way . Malcolm
    malcolm recently posted..Ive really been sickMy Profile

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  5. Lloyd
    August 20, 2010 | 3:26 pm

    Congratulations and good luck Talen, not that I think you’ll need it!

    As life would have it I am not far behind you, unlike you I have not commited to Thailand and I am taking yet another 4-6 month holiday with my wife, to try and get my health and fitness back and of course to see the good lady ;-)

    Keep up the blog, maybe if our paths cross, either around Phuket or Ao Manao, I will get to buy you and pookie a few drinks one day!

  6. Suny
    August 20, 2010 | 3:59 pm

    What a lovely post. It’s almost like you have put into words what I myself have felt/feels and done/is doing. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Mike
    August 20, 2010 | 4:49 pm

    Talen a great post that really says it all.
    I wish you good luck in your venture which I am sure will provide some new challenges.

    I hope that living the dream is as fulfilling as dreaming the dream.
    Mike recently posted..Thailand Water WorksMy Profile

  8. Steve
    August 20, 2010 | 11:40 pm

    It’s great to finally see this post that has you on your way into the next chapter of your life. It will certainly be a great adventure and it’s good to see that you are entering into it with an open mind and open heart. Hope to meet up with you in Bangkok next year to celebrate another arrival to Thailand.
    Steve recently posted..Thailand Ranked 58 of World’s Best 100 CountriesMy Profile

  9. Martyn
    August 21, 2010 | 3:08 am

    Talen what a brilliant post, excellent writing.

    Good luck with your plans in Thailand and I hope you and Pookie grow even closer together over the next few years.

    I’m looking forward to your first post from your new country but it’s going to have to be a cracker to beat this one. Inspirational stuff.
    Martyn recently posted..The Lady Boys of BangkokMy Profile

  10. Ben Shingleton
    August 21, 2010 | 11:08 pm

    Go for it Talen… Maybe we can do a beer in BKK at some point? Chok dee kub, Ben
    Ben Shingleton recently posted..Trip back to EnglandMy Profile

  11. Talen
    August 22, 2010 | 9:35 am

    Wow! Thank you all for your awesome comments and support. I really hope I can meet with all of you at one time or another and buy you a beer…cept Paul, I’ll buy him a coke.

    Just Landed a few hours ago and am now in Pattaya so let the fun begin :)

  12. SiamRick
    August 23, 2010 | 10:22 am

    Talen, I have to second Martyn’s compliments. Very inspiring stuff. I’ll be re-reading this post as I count down the days to my departure on the same flight of adventure to LOS. It’s just about to turn into Monday, 23rd, the beginning of my very last week of work. I find it hard to believe I won’t be getting up next Monday to the sound of a morning alarm. So much has happened to me since I set foot in Thailand, much like you, I imagine.

    I expect to see a followup blissful post on “My first days as a resident of Thailand.”

    Don’t worry. Be happy!
    SiamRick recently posted..Too much stuff Dont move it- get rid of itMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 23, 2010 | 11:00 pm

      Thanks Rick, I know how you must be feeling right now about your upcoming move.

      We’ll have to toast this good fortune with a beer after you arrive me thinks.

  13. Lawrence
    August 23, 2010 | 11:36 am

    Good luck with the move, Talen. I look forward to reading your reactions to living in Thailand. Hope it goes well for you, but be patient the times it doesn’t. As others have mentioned, you already know Thailand well, so you start with an advantage.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and the quotes) in this post and over the last few months as the time for the move got nearer.
    Lawrence recently posted..Thai Festivals in EnglandMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 23, 2010 | 11:01 pm

      Thanks Lawrence, patience is a virtue here but even with all the quirks it’s hard to get mad at much if anything at all.