Why We’re Here
It’s been a few weeks since we officially started Nomad Fuel and although we’ve touched on it here and there, I realize that we haven’t really shared an explanation for the vision behind Nomad Fuel and why we’re doing what we are. While it may seem obvious to most (what’s not to like about the idea of traveling around the world for a few months right?), there are some subtleties to our motivation that I think should be brought to light. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that my reasons for traveling around the world are slightly different than Shelby’s, which are probably at least sightly different than what would motivate you to do the same. So let’s jump into it, why are we here, or I guess there from your point of view?
I think the easiest way to explain this is to start with a conversation I overheard after hiking the Canyon Trail in Waimea Canyon. After our hike we stopped into the Kokee Tavern for some green smoothies, coffee (not for me) and some live folk music. While banjo picking filled the background, I couldn’t help but listen to an American woman explain to a foreigner the difference between travel tendencies in the States and other countries around the world.
“This is only my second vacation in six years.”
“Because we’re obsessed with work in America.”
Let those two statements sink in a bit longer.
Although she stated this in a way that clearly implied she wanted to travel more, the way she said this did not suggest disappointment. Instead, she used a tone of neutrality and acceptance. As if despite the fact that she was well aware that plenty of people all around the world traveled much more frequently, that this was just how her life was and there wasn’t any decision that she was in control of that could potentially change that. The more I think about it, the more it reminds me of a robot that’s been programmed to understand a certain set of facts or commands and anything outside of those parameters just doesn’t register a response. The sky is blue, adding four plus five gives you nine and Americans overvalue work. Plain and simple.
But here’s the thing… it’s not that simple! The sky is many different colors. I’m talking 50 shades of grey, orange, yellow, red, blue, purple and black (we all saw the eclipse). Hell, I’ve even seen green streaks in the sky a few times (I highly recommend timing your next flight with a sunset). And if you’re willing to slap some parentheses on that bad boy and divide by 0, you can push your limit to infinity. That’s right, you have the power to make an unlimited number of possibilities from absolutely nothing!
So no matter where you live, whether it’s America or elsewhere, remember that you don’t have to overvalue your job to become “successful”. Instead, figure out what kind of “success” YOU value and then find the work that can serve as your vehicle to get there. For some that will look like the prototypical American Dream with the two car garage and the white picket fence. For others, it will look like a billion dollars in the bank and a rolls Royce in the driveway. Some may value a career where they travel every month, others may simply define success by being able to pay their bills and surf every day. Whatever success looks like to you, make sure that it’s YOUR version and not somebody else’s.
For a long time, I thought I had an idea of what success looked like for me. I did everything I needed to do to get there and was on the right track by everyone else’s standards. But one day I realized that I was wrong. I was unhappy with where I was at, and more importantly, where I was going. So I decided I needed to make a change and I needed to figure out where I wanted to my life to take me.
To be honest, I still haven’t quite figured out what my own version of success looks like. But I do know what it doesn’t look like. I’ve worked engineering jobs, I’ve pulled 14 hour days on top of 60 hour weeks and I’ve sat in cubicles for hours on end while staring at AutoCAD. I’ve also gone on safaris in the Masai Mara, flyboarded in Dubai, played footy across the globe, climbed mountains on multiple continents, volunteered in new countries, stumbled through foreign languages, met people from all around the world and fully immersed myself in new cultures. One list gives me life, the other drains my soul. One helps me grow, the other makes me fade away.
I can’t fully speak for Shelby, but the reason I chose to pursue this journey is not because I needed to “do it while I still could”. Although I recognize that I may never have as much freedom as I do right now, the goal is for that not to be the case. Instead, I chose to travel for this extended period of time because I believe we should pursue the moments and the work that give us the most enjoyment, regardless of whether or not we know what they will or won’t lead to. I’ve found that the times I’ve followed these paths are the times that I’ve learned the most about what I value.
So that’s why I’m here, to chase the unknown a little further. I’m not sure where exactly will take me (us), but I know that I’ll learn more about the world, it’s people and myself in the process. And hopefully, if I’m lucky, it’ll help me learn a little bit more about what success means to me.