When I first decided to dive in headfirst and hit the road as a travelin’ fool, I always told people,

“I don’t know if it will be six months or six years, but I’ve got to do it.”

Well, we all now know it wasn’t the six months…We’ll see if it ends up being six years, but only time will tell.

What have I learned these past two years of living on the road? The main takeaway would have to be the human race is alive and well. I’ve come across so many wonderful people as I’ve traveled. I can’t tell you the number of times that perfect strangers have offered me water, asked if I needed a ride, shared food, and even allowed me to camp out or stay at their place. All sorts of people from a wide array of backgrounds.

I’ve also learned (maybe this is just for me) life can be so much simpler than we make it. How can I possibly survive without Netflix, cable, high speed internet, lots of fancy clothes, a car, fill in the blank, etc? The answer is…quite nicely, actually. I found that the quality of my life has gone up with the amount of things I own going down. Everything I now own either fits on my back or on my bicycle. (Save for a box of photos and newspaper clippings in a friend’s garage in Fort Worth, Texas. Don’t give up hope y’all, I’ll come get it one of these days.) Without chasing after all of the things society tells me I need, I’m free to chase a better Mark.

For example, I’ve always wanted to learn a second language and years in the ballet gave me an appreciation for the French language, so I decided to actually do something about it. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had conversations about learning a second language and never did more than a half-assed attempt that always ended with another conversation of “one day I want to learn a second language.” I’ve heard that the best way to learn a new language is to go live where they speak it, so I went to France. Life’s too short for me to always be talking or dreaming about doing something. I want to go do it  and if I fail… at least I tried.

Lots of people have amazing careers, kids, a wife, a husband, something special to them that requires them to stay in one place. If you don’t have anything tying you down, why not go explore the world? Mind you, there are times when I see a happy couple, walking while holding hands and eating ice cream cones with the kids close by kicking a soccer ball, and I really wish that I had a three bedroom, two bath, with a minivan in the suburbs. But, when I snap out of it, I’m glad to have the freedom to travel solo. (Don’t give up hope Mom, you might get to use that Russel Wright dinnerware for a rehearsal dinner one day, if I meet the right gal while traveling.) I think one day I’d like to settle down, write a book, and open up a quaint hostel café to welcome other travelers and help them on their journey. Until that happens.. .

I’m going to continue living life to the fullest and explore this great world we live in.