Is This Really Happening?
I’ve said that so many times in my life. In good times and in bad. Is this REALLY happening? In certain situations, sometimes you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. That’s me in my current state. I’m questioning, as usual, but I’ll get to that in a minute. If you’re asking yourself if something is really happening, be it sarcastic or not, it probably means it’s at the very least, a memorable moment. In those times, you need to take stock of what’s around you. A mental marker of sorts, to gauge your surroundings in order to move forward in the best way possible. For me, that’s one of the main reasons for this blog. It’s a way to exhale what I’m thinking and feeling in a format that’s hopefully entertaining and informative for the reader, and therapeutic for me at the same time.
Since this is my first blog post ever, context is key. To set the stage for this blog, my wife Morgan and I figured it would be a good idea to explain WHY we were doing this. Why we were starting a blog. Why we were choosing to delay the 40, sometimes 60 hour work week the last few years, to travel the US. A little bit about why we are who we are, and probably most importantly, any life lessons we’ve learned along the way. As the saying goes: If you care, then share (Is that a saying? I could’ve just made that up. If so, you can steal it). So here it goes…
Over the last 17 years since the passing of my mother before her time from cancer, I’ve found myself constantly questioning many aspects of my life.
When you lose someone at an early age, especially a parent, your own mortality sets in pretty quickly. For me, it was a calling to make the most of my fleeting time on earth. Carpe diem, if you will. With that mindset, I started questioning myself at every turn to make sure I was maximizing my own unique life experience. Questions like, “Is this the right group of people to hang around? Am I doing all I can to be a good person to my family and friends? Am I working hard enough? Am I ‘partying’ hard enough? Will I look back and regret doing a specific thing, or worse yet … NOT doing a specific thing?” These are questions all people ask from time to time. I get that. The difference is that for me, it became a way of life, to a fault in many aspects. Decisions are tough for me, especially life changing decisions. Sure, life changing decisions are tough for most people. I guess that’s why they’re called ‘life changing’. But seriously, sometimes I struggle to pick what I want for dinner. Should I have the grilled chicken b/c it’s good for me, or should I have the steak because … well, it’s steak. Do I need another reason? But I digress. The point is that I tend to waffle until I’m pushed. Just ask my wife or my good friends. My nickname shortly after high school became AC Stallcraft because I was always delaying something to avoid an action or a decision.
There are, however, two sides to every coin. After reading about my indecisiveness, you’d probably be surprised to learn that I’m also pretty damn good at pushing myself when need be. It’s part of the reason I’ve made it this far. To summarize, over the last 12 years since graduating from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!), I’ve worked at 4 publicly traded companies and 2 startups (1 of which I am a co-founder) in high pressure enterprise tech sales. I’ve also been a part of 3 rock bands and recorded a good amount of original music. When the pressure is on, I can switch gears in a hurry. You truly need to be a self-starter to survive in those environments. But like most people, if I get comfortable, I like to stay that way. And making hard decisions about a specific thing means change. Change means the possibility of being uncomfortable. And who likes being uncomfortable??? Not this guy (two thumbs pointing back at myself). To perform a little self analysis, that’s probably the reason I work so hard when the pressure is on: To avoid being under the aforementioned pressure.
I tell you this so you might understand in a nutshell what makes me tick. A sometimes indecisive, sometimes workaholic man in his mid 30s. I realize there’s nothing groundbreaking in that statement, and now you’re most likely wondering what the hell all of this has to do with why my wife and I are writing a travel blog. Well, in that case, I’ll tell you: I needed to break the cycle. As my wife so elegantly pointed out in her previous post, I needed to do away with the fear of indecision and work toward something I was passionate about, instead of just working to alleviate the pressure. There comes a point when you realize you’ve reached a crossroads, and my moment culminated with the passing of my father Mike.
Two years ago almost exactly to the month, my father was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 lung and brain cancer. To those not versed in cancer lingo, stage 4 is bad. Really bad. There is no stage 5. He lost his battle with cancer 6 months later. As his only biological child, I was left with a mountain of paperwork and a total of zero parents. It was overwhelming, but that’s not what this story is about. It’s about what happens next. One of my dad’s life long dreams was to take a cruise up the pacific coast to Alaska. We had discussed doing that as a father/son trip shortly before his diagnosis. As you can probably guess, that trip never happened. And it left an impression on my being. If you believe in the soul, then you could say it crushed my soul that we never got to experience that together. After my mother died, I was well aware that my father, a smoker of 40 years, wouldn’t be around forever. And I also knew that it might not end pretty. I was right. After a few weeks of grieving, I could stomach the loss enough to move forward with the support of my amazing wife, my unbelievable network of good friends I’d developed over the years, and of course my constantly supportive family. For them, I’m eternally grateful and forever in their debt. If you’re reading this, you know who you are… and thank you for being there. What I couldn’t stomach was the regret. The regret of not being able to experience a lifelong dream that my father and I both had shared. The times that we missed out on, the proverbial ‘what could have been.’
And that brings us to today. Me writing this, and you reading it. And yes, this IS really happening. Morgan and I have decided to shake the fear, and take what could be the only opportunity in our short lives to road trip across the country in an RV before we have children, and before we’re too old to do the crazy things we’d like to do along the way. It’s a dream that we share together, and I’ll be damn sure not to let this one pass us by. I know that she 100% feels the same, and I couldn’t ask for better travel companions than her and our two Bulldog pups. I hope you enjoy our various posts about the adventures, the good times, the funny times, the smelly times (Bulldogs have really bad gas in case you didn’t know), and even the bad times. To quote my father Mike, “Peaks and Valleys.” Without the rain, the sunshine would seem a little less bright, right?
Take the opportunity to live your life when the moment presents itself. Or better yet, don’t wait, and go MAKE your life. Don’t be afraid to make a life changing decision. That’s where the magic happens. I’m saying that to you, the reader, in the hope that it inspires you to do something memorable with the time you’re given, whatever that may be. Even if it’s only to savor that next bite of grilled chicken, despite the fact that it’s not steak. 🙂 But this is also a reminder to myself – My future self. Hey future self – wake up and listen to your current self and make the most of today.
Oh, and one more thing: Be sure to smile along the way and enjoy the ride. The learning is in the journey, not the destination. Until next time…much love.