Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where Is Darren Now - One Year Anniversary

One year ago today I was in Tel Aviv, Israel to attend the wedding of the brother of my good friend Ruma. It also was the first day I wrote a story for my new blog. The idea was then, as it is now, that my blog is a way for me to keep my family and friends up to date with what I'm doing and where I am. It's been a success on many levels. I've enjoyed the process of writing the stories more than I ever thought I would and I've also been repeatedly amazed when people say that, not only are they reading it, but that they are actually enjoying it.

So, what have I been up to this past year? ( year. As a friend recently wrote, "I can't believe you've pulled this off for a year now...then again, yes, I can!") I've been traveling pretty much non-stop and have been to so many places and experienced so much that I wanted to do a review for myself.

What I've done:
1. I lived in Barcelona, Osaka, the U.S., and Colombia.
2. In addition, I visited Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Peru, France, Gibraltar, Tibet, and China.
3. I've been to Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, and South America.
4. In terms of miles, I've flown around the planet at least twice and probably closer to three times.
5. Got sick for more than a day only once.

What I've seen so far. The list of what I've seen and done is waaaaaaay too long but includes some things like...
1. The old city of Jerusalem. If you're at all religious or are interested in history, this is the place to go.
2. The Great Pyramids. Crazy. Amazing. Truly a must-see.
3. Lots of Gaudi Masterpieces. He's a genius and you can see many of them in a couple of days in the amazing city of Barcelona.
4. The Nazca Lines. It seems like the other end of the earth but well worth the visit.
5. Lake Titicaca. All those jokes as kids made this one hit home. Also, people living on floating islands???
6. The Alhambra. An architectural wonder. If you can only see one thing in Spain, this is it.
7. A Formula1 race. One of three sports events on my to-do list. The other two? The Tour de France and The Dakar Rally.
8. A Barça match. It's important in the non-U.S. world.
9. The Picasso painting Guernica. You have to see it to understand.
10. The Canary Islands. Breathtaking scenery.
11. Wildwood, New Jersey. It was like going home again.
12. Oceanside, California. It still feels like home.
13. Kyoto and Nara. You can see old Japan in all its beauty.
14. Nagasaki. My favorite city in Japan.
15. Beijing. Old and new colliding every day.
16. The Great Wall. You went to China and didn't see it?
17. The Terracota Warriors. Obsession gone wild. In the same league as the Pyramids of Egypt.
18. Tibet. Exotic. Amazing sights. Amazing people.
19. Shanghai. The past, present, and future of China in one place.
20. Colombia. Coffee anyone?

And that's just the highlights. There's been a ton more.

More importantly, I set out last year to learn not just about the world but also about myself. At times, this part's resulted in happiness, sadness, frustration, and contentedness. But what I've learned is that, no matter what has happened or what's going to happen, I have very little control over it. I can't do anything about the past. I can only influence the future and maximize right now (this one single moment in time). When I was in my teens I always said to myself that I wanted to live each day like it's my last. I lost touch with that sentiment for a long time but I've had the opportunity this year to really return to that way of thinking and live that way. Each day I try very hard to make sure that, if I die tonight, I'm satisfied with what I've done, what I've learned, and who I am.

Also, family and friends matter a lot. They're always there for you. I'll take this moment to say thanks to my family, to all my old friends, and to all my new friends. Thanks for making this last year as well as my entire life worth living.

What's next? I've been giving this lots of thought lately. I've got a bunch of ideas floating around with a few really rising to the top recently. We'll have to wait and see but I'll be sure to post about it.

Among my favorite stories so far:
3. A tie between Teaching English In Tibet and Learning How To Cross The Street: Cairo Style (not well written but it was a fun day).
4. Pretty much any story about food.

What about you? Could you sell almost everything you own, pack your bags, and go out and see the world? I know....

No money. It's a lot cheaper than you think. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do? Go sit on a beach? Guess how much it costs to sit on a beach.

No time. You probably hate your job. Quit. Travel for a while. With your new-found view of life and the world, go back and get a new job you'll like.

Kids. Take them with you. They'll get as much or more out of it than you will.

Probably 1,000,000 other possible reasons. I have to be honest, if it wasn't for a series of really bad events, I wouldn't have done it either. Now that I know, I wish I could get everyone to try it. The truth is that you probably need your world to fall apart for you to really question it. At least think about spending some time doing some long-term (more than a couple of weeks) traveling. I'll share what I've learned with you so that you can do it as inexpensively as possible.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. As I said in the beginning, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy living it and writing about it.


  1. Dar-- I hate for it to end! It's been a real pleasure reading this and "hearing" your voice in each post. And I'll be repeating this line: "guess how much it costs to sit on that beach," even though that is exactly where I want to be. Only the best to you my friend. I'm curious to know where you will guess? Teaching English somewhere. Only the best to you and hope to see you at some point.

  2. Great post, Darren... I know I will follow in your steps some day. Soon enough, I hope!
    Good luck in all your new endeavors!

  3. Dave - It's not ending, at least not yet. On the "beach" comment, it's interesting to hear people say what they'd do if they came into a bunch of money. Most of it costs very little. Maybe you should pick a place you've wanted to go, pick a time, and maybe we can meet there? :-)

    Olganator - I'll be waiting for you!


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