Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Give Me Feedback on my Totally Not A Book

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A lot of people tell me: “Write a book!” Or they ask, “Are you going to write a book?”

I don't know. I think first I should finish the trip.

But, because I'm a creator, I can't help but think about what that would look like. Would it be sequential or would I just talk about the people I met with cycling as a backdrop? How would I maintain anonymity if I said “so-and-so from such-and-such a place?” Would people actually read it? Do people still read books? Does anyone care enough about my relationship with depression to read the book if that's a major theme?

Dear reader, it's feedback time. What do you think a book about this trip would look like?

While I'm at it, what other feedback do you have for me? Anything goes! Do I write too often? Not enough? Am I too introspective? More photos? Fewer? Any and all feedback is appreciated, however praising or critical.

Before you keep reading, comment below and give me feedback. If you don't want to log in, you should be able to comment as “Anonymous” via the dropdown menu. Or, you can e-mail me at, or comment on my Facebook page.

So, now that you've left feedback (you left feedback, right?)... since I have been thinking about what a book would look like... if I could start it now, here's what that might look like.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

There is nothing really magical or supernatural about this story besides the fact that it happened. Some stories, especially nowadays, will say there is nothing magical about them, that they are completely normal, but they are selling something. I am not. Okay, I am. But really, I'm a normal guy. I just made some abnormal choices. But this story probably doesn't have a happy ending. I don't know how it ends; as I write this, it's not over yet. But you should know that I probably go back to my desk job and a semi-normal life afterwards. I'll just take my experiences with me. Because experiences – unlike anything else in our lives – experiences cannot be taken away from us.

Your average movie-grade story has an inciting incident. Watch any movie and you'll see something happen that changes the life of the main character forever. A relative will die, someone will tell them they are special, their computer will get hacked, someone they love will get kidnapped, they will find a ring or see a falling star. About halfway through they'll figure out they are “the one” and discover they have special powers. Movies (unintentionally) condition us to believe we are special: we just haven't been discovered yet. Don't feel special? Don't worry! If you continue working your 9-5 a crane will break through the wall, setting into motion a sequence of events resulting in defeat of the bad guy (who has been hiding in the shadows this whole time) and winning the heart of your true love (who you may or may not have met yet; maybe meeting them is the inciting incident).

The problem is, most people wait around and no inciting incident ever happens to them. Most of us have to decide to change our lives and do the hard work of changing it: quitting our jobs, leaving that bad relationship, whatever. Most of us won't get kidnapped or inherit a large sum of money or discover we have an illegitimate child; instead, we just go through the motions that society has made easy for us to go through: school, college, job, marriage, house, retirement, funeral. Scrolling through our Facebook news feed.

There is nothing wrong with this sequence of events, but there are also other things you can do with your life. As long as you do what you do purposefully. People have told me how amazing and wonderful my life sounds... yet there is nothing special about me except that I decided to live this way and then took action to make it happen. I chose to not care about the things most other people care about, like sleeping in the same place every night, being able to access the internet whenever I want to, and having a car. I've purposefully prioritized indefinite travel over having a nice house in the suburbs. Nothing wrong with a nice house in the suburbs – but it's not as important, to me, as some other things.

I have, of course, met plenty of people living in a house in the suburbs who are really happy, and that's awesome. I think the key, whether you live on a bike or in a house or in your car or the space station, is to live purposefully. You have to make the decision – not your parents, your other, your society, or the whim of fancy.

I don't think this story will end in defeating the bad guy because there is no bad guy (unless you want to personalize depression) and it's not about winning the heart of my true love. It's about forging a new life, an unconventional life, proving to myself that there's more to do when I wake up in the morning than getting a paycheck and buying stuff (Fight Club's Tyler Durden: “We work long hard hours at jobs we hate to buy stuff we don't need to impress people we don't like”) and seeing if doing that more will be fulfilling, even if it's hard.

It's about learning whether people around the world are good or if they're how they are represented in the media, if terrible things happen to people who step outside their comfort zone. Is the world ready for a story that doesn't involve defeating a bad guy or punching something or shooting something or blowing something up or a quest to win the heart of a true love or even just to get laid?

Probably. I'm pretty sure it's already been done. So like I said, there's nothing special about this story.

If I had to construct a completely fictional inciting incident that totally didn't happen, it would be this: I was lying on my bed feeling depressed, wondering what I was doing with my life. I opened my eyes and saw that poster I have on my wall – The Holstee Manifesto. I sat up. And read it. And this is what I saw:

Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them. So go out there and start creating.

I believe that. Because time and life are the most valuable things we have. They are the only things, once spent, we can never get back. And we can use them to construct experiences, which are one of the only things that can never be taken away from us.

Time and life are too valuable to be spent without purpose. Too many people with time and money and the privilege of choosing what to do with their lives just did what they were told or what was presented to them.

So I listened to that poster. I left. To meet people. And create things with them.

This is my story.

What do you think?


  1. Yes, people read and love books. Your story is one worth sharing, but you're right, just live the journey for now. And, keep blogging, recording, and taking notes so you don't lose anything should you decide to write a book! People will care enough about your depression to read about it because your experience with it as you travel will help them. The tricky part will be creating/capturing a theme and engaging story line. I'm sure you could do it if you decide to as you're a wonderful writer.

    You do not write too often. When there aren't photos, I miss them. They tell a lot. I especially like the photos with you in them. I like the occasional "Musings from the Road" because they add a lot to your blog and make it much more meaningful than just a travel journal, though some of the stories you tell of who you meet, what they are doing, what they have to say; and of how you navigate the challenges of the journey (sleeping in a truck!); and the food, scenery, etc., are fascinating.

    Love you, Mom

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback! It means a lot. Any constructive feedback would be welcome as well (more photos of me?).

  2. I love your writing style and I'd definitely read a book. I'm not great at constructive feedback because I think everything's been lovely so far :P
    But you could update that map a bit more!

    1. Picky, picky! :) I'm glad you like the map. I'll be at my WWOOF in less than a week and then I'll (hopefully) have time to update it!