Saturday, January 7, 2012

London Fog

Now that we are about a week into the New Year, I wanted to share some thoughts on new years resolutions.  I don’t believe in them.  If you want to quit smoking in November don’t wait ‘till Jan 1st to do it.  I do think that January 1st is a good time to reflect on the past year and to figure out some new goals or new directions that you want to make.

On December 31st I drove down to Orange Country because that is where I was gonna bring in the new year.  I got there in the late afternoon with plenty of time to get a little surf session in.  I was pretty bummed when I got to the beach and Newport looked like London.  Fog everywhere.  I pulled up to my buddies house who literally lives on the beach and you could not even see if there were waves or not.  He convinced me that there were so I decided to paddle out for the last time in 2011. 

Quick little note for those of you who do not surf - People surf for a variety of different reasons – Job, recreation, look cool, culture, spiritual, happiness, the sun, convenience, fitness, all of the above, etc.  I’m not going to be joining the pro tour anytime soon so I just do it because it makes me happy and I feel that when I’m in the water it helps me think.  It is like a release.  It is as if your thoughts can be poured into a mass that dominates the earth, no thought is too big for her – nor to small.  When you ride a wave it is almost like you are conquering the ocean.  Like for a couple of seconds you have harnessed its power and tamed a beast that has swallowed many.  But then the wave slams you down and it lets you know that humility is still necessary.  Surfing is cool because you can see people get up and ride waves and its almost as if the wave was created to serve them – like that wave’s power and beauty was used by the person riding it to create a feeling of joy and happiness.   Then you watch other surfers and it is as if the man was created to serve the wave.  The wave has its way and does whatever it desires, with no regard to that persons safety or well being.   I think I’ve been in both situations. 

I say all that for this story – I paddled out and I could not see more than 10 feet in front of me.  By time I got out to a point where I wanted to start catching waves I could vaguely make out what the beach looked like.  I knew which way was east and which way was west, but it was extremely difficult to decipher.  As hard as it was to see behind me, it was just as hard to see in front of me.  I surfed like this for 15 minutes without giving it any thought.  Waves would show up and I would have to make a quick decision to take it or let it go.  Then it hit me.  This is last day of 2011 and here I am thinking about what I want to do differently next year.  Sometimes my life is very easy and a two year old could make decisions for me.  Other times it feels like all the wisdom in Ecclesiastes could not help me make the right decision.  One thing I did know is that in 2012 I wanted to be able to make clear decisions for my life and not be hindered by my past or thoughts of the future.  Ummm, hello? Are you there? Fog is surrounding you.  You cannot see behind you.  You cannot see in front of you.  Then its like a light finally came on. Ohhhhhhhh! I swear its like the ocean was giving me everything I needed.  It was a perfect metaphor of what I was trying to change.  Do not worry about the fact that you cannot see the past.  Do no worry about the fact that you cannot see the future.  Just be happy to know that you can see the present and that you can make great decisions based on that clarity.   

I just thought that it was a really cool story and I always hear stories like that, and I say to myself “man, when is something cool like that gonna happen to me!” Haha, funny thing is that I almost did not realize it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Healthy Addiction

You could Google “reasons to travel” and I imagine you would come up with 452 different reasons.  Traveling is good for you.  You might get something completely different out of traveling than your friends, but at the end of the day it is still all positive.  I’ll be the first to admit that routine is not always a bad thing.  Waking up everyday and seeing the same things, talking to the same people, and living the same life will continually get you – what you have always got. 

When I was a teenager I signed up for a missions trip to Mexico.  Our main goal for this trip was to serve in anyway possible – odd jobs, construction, lending an ear, whatever they needed. Growing up in Southern California, I was your typical American boy.  Grew up in a cookie cutter neighborhood.  Had an older brother who taught me about sports, girls, and life.  Had an older sister who kept me in line.  Had a younger sister who I kept in line? Had two awesome parents.  Had tons of cool friends.  Loved to play video games.  Drank too much soda. Loved sports.  Hated math and loved PE. Never spent my weekends indoors. You get the point.  Mexico was probably the easiest “foreign” country to go to.  It was about four hours (depending on traffic) to the border.  I didn’t know what to expect, and being so young my mind was pretty open to anything.  I had figured that we were going to go down there, have some fun, and help some people.  When I got back from that trip I almost felt guilty.  I felt like selling all my things, never buying a brand name shoe again, and saying thank you to my Mom and Dad for always putting food on the table at mealtime.  The people I met down there had a bigger smile on their face with half the amount of material things, than most people did where I grew up.  I was changed. I was shocked. I was hooked. 

This typical boy turned into a busy boy.  The word travel now came in the form of work as opposed to play.  College baseball and baseball as a profession allowed me to travel, a lot.   Good thing for me is that even while you are working you can still play!  Until recently, my travels kept me in the United States.  For those who think that different culture can only be found in places outside of your country you should go spend an hour on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, eat at the Blue Plate Cafe in Memphis, see a show at The Stage In Nashville, or take a drive down the streets of Anchorage.  If time, money, or fear of flying is limiting you to staying in the States, do not worry there is still a lot to see!

I owe a lot of my travel addiction to my Brother in law.  He was a missionary kid and grew up in Taiwan.  If there’s guy that knows travel its him.  You can even tell he’s traveled a lot just because of his personality and how he makes choices in life.  It’s truly amazing what travel can do to a person.  I was still a little skeptical about traveling outside of the States mainly because I thought I was going to have to do it alone.  I can remember sitting at the computer that day and him being like dude, just click yes and go for it.  My first trip was to Costa Rica. I actually convinced a buddy to come with me and we had a blast.  Now all I look forward to is my next fix.

So that is my pitch. Now here are some practical notes to keep in mind while traveling.

Plan – Dates, money, people.  All of these are really important.  While spontaneous travel can be rewarding too, practicality is important too.  Coming up with a budget to work with will make the trip less stressful and maximize fun! 

Likeminded travelers – Just for safety and practical reason, going on trips with people is always smart.  It’s important thought to pick people that have likeminded people.  You are going to be in each other’s lives twenty-four hours a day.  If you like to site see but travel buddy likes to sleep in – conflict might ensue. 

Keep an open mind – Keep in mind that the new place you are going will have things that you are not used to.  Architecture will be different.  People will look different. Food will be different.  Different animals might roam the streets. Traditions, culture, language – all different. 

Make a choice – traveling can be a little overwhelming sometimes.  You have hundreds of places to go, and hundreds of more places to go once you get to where you are going!  When you feel stressed, just make a choice – flip a coin.  Once you experience what your choice produced – use that information and make an even better choice next time!

So that’s my list of five things you can do.  Perfect way to start out the New Year, right? Now go plan a trip!