Sunday, August 25, 2013


Florida, 2009
My comfort zone was an illusion, a mythical compound I had created in my life and I was gradually, millimeter by millimeter, settling into it like a comfortable leather armchair.
My house that was in foreclosure, my garage that was attached to said house that was full of "stuff", my BMW 1150 GS, and the knowledge that everything around me was recognizable, recurring, habitual. All of it a known quantity. Safe. Secure. It's called an anxiety-neutral zone. I didn't know that then, but I could feel that it was so. I felt limp and lethargic inside, like there was more. But I obviously was choosing not to take the road less traveled in order to pursue it.
Places, people, streets, friends, weather, activities, behaviors. All about as comfortably familiar and boring as it ever was in my life. It's a silent, faceless killer. 
I was suspended in time. There was no challenge, no sharp points to jab me in my flesh and painfully remind me that "hey, you're still alive son". Barely. Technically.
My fear of the unknown and of myself was keeping me on lock down, and I all I had to do was keep telling myself that it could be worse. 
And I'll try to fix it tomorrow. 

It was nice and safe there. 
For a while.


Trying to tell myself that I had to be responsible and get a safe secure job so I could climb back up the ladder that I unceremoniously fell off in 2008. Like I had all the time in the world to wait for things to get better, to improve. 
Plenty of time, right?.

Looking back, if you had known or met me then, you would be forgiven for thinking that I had an extra life stashed away in a bank somewhere given the way that I behaved and carried on sometimes. 
A lot, a lot of wasted energy. And time. And money. 
I still do sometimes. Waste time that is. It's hard not to. I'm more aware of it now that I'm sober, not too much wiggle room for excuses these days. Which is just how I like it now.
Back then I had a good excuse. I was drunk most of the time. It was the booze, not me, right?. Riiiight. 
That was the problem, right?. Wrong.
Get rid of the booze, get rid of the problem, right?. Wrong. 
Getting rid of the booze just made me more completely and painfully aware of the problem. 
I still am the problem. I am not "cured". I never will be. I will always be an alcoholic. All it will still take is just one drink. Should I choose that route. 
I choose not to.
I have chosen not to for the last 1,681 days.

At least now I have the ability and am conscious and aware enough to be able to deal with the problems instead of my troubled thoughts and feelings being medicinally soothed, placated and anesthetized by alcohol. Even when I was drinking like a fish, I always knew and felt inside that it wasn't a solution. It was just adding to the problem even more, making it worse.
Now I have no excuses left, at least no really good juicy ones, so it forces me to own up and take a lot more responsibility than I did before. 
Sometimes it doesn't work, but most of the time it does. 
Self discipline doesn't come naturally to me. But I have a better success rate than I did before January 2009 when I got sober. 

Removal and Replacement. 
Going down the hole.

Removing myself from situations and things that caused me problems. 
Replacing bad habits. With better habits.
However, not all habits need to fit into the "better" category. 
And better according to whom?. And from what vantage point?. From whose vantage point?. 
Everyones definition of what constitutes better is going to be different.
I just know some of the things that are better for me, and one of them is not drinking alcohol. And not living life in a hamster wheel either. And leaving my comfort zone.
There's a certain degree of irresponsibility to my life now, according to society anyway. Of one day throwing caution to the wind and hoping that I can make a better attempt at it this time around. But it's not haphazard. I don't feel that I am wasting time now. I know I'm not. I feel able to create things. Things that I like and am immensely proud of.
I'm ok with me now. But there's always more.

If not me, then who?. If not now, then when?. 

Some get it at an early age. The realization that life is for living, now, without seeking out permissions. 
And not just a last minute dash, a realization of "oh shit I'm 50" and trying to play catch up or even a few months before your expiration date either. 
Which none of us ever really know, do we?. Some will find out though, either through a medical diagnosis or emergency, whichever comes first. And it will.

I was guilty of the latter a lot of the time, of following the herd, seeking accolades and spending a very large part of my waking moments conforming to what I thought was expected or required of me from a system that I had chosen to entangle myself in. I was subconsciously thinking, and betting, that when I had become successful and had amassed my "fortune" I could buy myself the freedom to do what I had, earlier in life, put aside for later use. What I didn't realize at the time was that I would only go through all those feelings only once. One time only. Every given waking moment in my life happens only once. Shit. Can't go back now. 

Not realizing at the time that you can never go back. No amount of money can buy one second of that time back. And you can't buy those feelings back either. 
You can't, and shouldn't, put those thoughts and feelings aside for later. You can't just pick up at 51 where you left off at 24, or even 34. Or 44.
Feelings that only a younger "full of piss and vinegar" mind, attitude and hormones can allow you to experience. You can't buy that back 10 years further on, or even 5 years on for that matter. Because 5 years on, you're 5 years older and have moved on one thousand eight hundred and twenty six days from that point. 
Things have changed. A lot.

And sometimes they change in the blink of an eye.

Live like your dying. One day you'll be right.

Setting off on my first adventure at age 15 from Ireland to Europe on a one month EuroRail pass was an experience I will never forget. Upon reflection, I wish I had continued on traveling and not caved in to society and peer pressure. I should of just stayed in Europe and kept on moving. 
From my travels, I have memories and stories that I will always remember and cherish. From my nighttime sleeper train journeys from Paris to Italy, to my winter ascent of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland, those two are at the top of my list. I arrived in Germany not speaking one word of the language, but managed to get to where I wanted to be, and sometimes where I hadn't even thought about going. 

I would absolutely advocate this youthful pilgrimage, this journey of self discovery and enlightenment, to most people long before they even consider trying to climb "Life's Social Ladder to Success". That path that is put upon us by our families, peers and academics alike as the "right and responsible" way to get ahead in life. Really?. It's only one of many ways.

But hey, I'm not going to try to tell anyone or even imply what they should do or how they should live their life. 
But I will say to travel. Travel at the earliest age possible, even before your parents allow you to, and travel with full abandon. You're only going to be that young once in your life, and you will never, ever, have that time, or mindset, back again. Ever.

And even if you're not young, travel anyway. It's never too late.
Get out of your comfort zone. It's the only thing that will keep you alive as you get older. Staying in your comfort zone as you age will kill you. Dead. From the inside out. Starting with your mind.
You have to be like a shark and keep moving in order to get the oxygen running over your gills. You stop moving, you die.

Here I am, nearly 4 years and 68,000 miles later from where I started this unplanned trip in Florida, on another continent.

Here I am, in Rovaniemi Finland, down but not out with a transmission problem. I expected as much at some point in the journey, although I thought it would happen a little later. 

So far, the only thing I can find that may be the cause of my issue is a spinning bearing. The culprit?. I'm not 100% sure actually but the teardown was not in vain. 
It's not ready for it just yet, but a new clutch would be easier to install at this point rather than on the M53 half way across Russia. 
The Wunderlich sintered clutch plate that I installed last August has already worn down to 50% of it's surface and is starting to get a little close to the rivets for comfort. A little premature?. Perhaps. 
I think I'll just install a stock clutch plate this time.
And since I do not have any BMW sponsorship for parts, or anything else for that matter, if anyone reading this post has any BMW parts connections, I would be very appreciative of any help you can send my way. My BMW parts wanted list is: •Complete Clutch assembly, •Clutch Slave Cylinder, •Transmission Shift Drum. If you have any parts connections that you think might be able to help, just email me. Time is of the essence here, as I need to get the bike back together ASAP. Thanks in advance.

And as usual, decals are available in the links on the upper right column of the blog, and since I have some expensive repairs upcoming and no BMW sponsorship, you might want to buy a set for your Mum. 

And speaking of Mums, my winter plans for spending some time with my Mum before I head east across Russia are in the works, via Skype.

I know, Skype. My 85 yr old Mum is keeping up with the ever changing technology race by learning how to use Skype. Not only that, but she's now able to read my articles and see my photographs that I publish here on It's very difficult to try to convey the thoughts and feelings I put into my photography and writings here on the blog, so for Mum to be able to read my work makes me very happy, as I'm sure she is also being finally able to read them.
I'm really very very proud of her. We haven't seen each other in over a year since I left the US in April of 2012, so I thought that it would be great if she had a computer to take avail of Skype, much better than hearing only a voice on a phone. So with the help of my friend Alan Sean of Computer Network Solutions in Arizona (who sponsor my computer tech work, thank you CNS), I bought Mum a refurbished iPad and 1 yrs worth of weeky lessons at the Apple store in Boulder where she lives now. 
Well, my Mum, being the smart cookie that I always knew she was, picked it up in less than a month !!. Which goes back to my earlier comment in this article that reinforces the fact that you're never too old to travel and it's never too late to learn. Talking on Skype makes the world of a difference, for both of us. It really seems to close that huge gap that embarking on a Round the World trip like this can seem to create. It almost seems like it's not such a big deal and large trip at all. Which in todays wireless world that we live in, it's really not as big of a trip as it would have been 25 years ago. 
Back then, there was no internet or cell phone service. GPS was in it's infancy and Google maps wasn't available either. it was paper maps or nothing. Heck, Google didn't even launch until the end of 1998. 
Now, you're never more than a cell phone call away from life, even in places that were once considered remote.
Since "Mum's Road Trip" back in 2011 and the thinking behind it, which was to show my Mum some of the places that I had seen on my travels across the US, I have been thinking of ways to get Mum onboard for a "Mum's Road Trip Pt II". 
It's actually one of the reasons I put a passenger friendly sidecar on my bike, with Mum in mind. So with the help of John Nikas of DriveAwayCancer we're working on flying Mum over to Finland in November so as I can show her just how beautiful it is here in Lapland and how much of a magical place it is in winter. A postcard perfect snowy Winter and Christmas season has always been special to my Mum, and it's even more special up here in Rovaniemi Finland, the official hometown of Santa Claus. So to be able to include my Mum in part of my Round the World trip has always been a part of the plan, so I hope that she'll be able for the long flight from Colorado to Finland. If not, well, we'll figure that out when the time comes

Have the day of your choice,


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