So I’m Leaving

uncertain future
Margarita Island, Venezuela

The cowardly belief that a person must stay in one place is too reminiscent of the unquestioning resignation of animals, beasts of burden stupefied by servitude and yet always willing to accept the slipping on of the harness. There are limits to every domain, and laws to govern every organized power. But the vagrant owns the whole vast earth that ends only at the non-existent horizon, and her empire is an intangible one, for her domination and enjoyment of it are things of the spirit.

Isabelle Eberhardt

For most of the past six years, my job has been fermentation process development. I did experiments with cells (bacterial, yeast, and mammalian) in reactors up to 400 liters in size to maximize the production of biological agents that were engineered into those cells. I’ve worked on drugs aimed to treat anthrax, cancer, HIV, lupus, chlamydia, and arthritis, of which most are still toddling along in clinical trials. The work was interesting but not exciting—it was highly technical in nature and just not something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Plus I never felt motivated enough to be a corporate go-getter. The highlights of my day were lunch and checking my email after lunch.

I’m about to buy a one-way ticket to South America, a place where I can travel while saving money at the same time. I want to start in Ecuador, go through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and then settle in Argentina for a while before I visit Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. I want to get there in July and stay for at least six months. Don’t worry, the blog will continue.

When I come back to the U.S., I want to try to live somewhere else, maybe Austin or Miami. It’s time to move on from this area. Much of the next couple of months will be spent with my family, playing with my little brothers, having serious discussions with my Dad, listening to my Mom complain about my stepmom, and joking around with my 20-year-old sister. It’s going to hurt that they will no longer be a stone’s throw away from me.

My only goal is that when my time has come, when I know that I don’t have much longer to live, I have done everything I could to have a meaningful and purposeful life, one lived to the fullest potential given to me. There is no one goal, one experience, or one accomplishment that can make this happen, but a way of life that enjoys it with rich experiences instead of things and cubicles and kitsch and money. I don’t believe in waiting until I’m 65 to do this. My health is good, my sexual drive is good, my savings is good, my mind is good—the time is now.

After I bought my first pocket digital camera, I would take it with me every time I went out with friends. But after about four years, I noticed I was taking pictures that were just slight variations of ones I already took. There are only so many different ways you can capture the same cast on the same stage with the same backdrop. Same as life. It has become too comfortable, too familiar. It’d be nice to experience something new and challenging.

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