Keys to Life

I always thought I would buy a leather key chain. Something simple, just a loop that would hold my keys and give me something to twirl. I always thought it would go well with the simple truck I would be buying. Then, I was 15, finally with a permit, and excited to get behind the wheel of my own Chevy or Ford. Navy blue, maybe white, and old, thirty or forty years old, with a thin steering wheel and a basic dash – something I could fix and work on and take care of.

Today I am 20 years old, and going to school at Tulane University – still without a truck. I tried many times in high school to save up, taking on many different jobs. I could have, and I would have, had it not been for my trips. Every summer I would fund adventures; one year a bike ride from Seattle to Portland, and another ride from Chicago to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until my freshman year did I start to settle down and really consider what it would take to buy my dream.

After receiving my first paycheck from my part-time job, I began scouring the internet for old trucks. With just $136.72 cents to my name (Yes, I was flat broke for the two weeks prior) I felt as though I had a fortune. Nothing could stop me from my dream.

After crunching the numbers, I came up with this wild fantasy for financing a beautiful 1989 Ford F-150 out of Huntsville, Alabama. I thought, “If I make this much in just 2 weeks I’ll have a truck in 4 months,” and then “Why not just put some money down now and pay as I go?”

With $136.72 I began calling dealerships offering cars for three, four, five thousand dollars. Out of my range no doubt, but I was thinking with a big wallet. I began multiple conversations discussing condition and price with a few dealerships across the south. And then, something else came to mind.

What if I biked from Chicago to New Orleans?  How about Cuba in the Spring? Maybe Paris in the summer?

All these ideas, these trips, these adventures, poured into my mind and left me dreaming and thinking of plans. Plans of how to make money, how to get my way over there, or on that road. It was like I was 16 again. I was in university, growing up, becoming an adult, yet I had the same dreams as I had in high school.

I thought hard for a good while on what to make of this; two different dreams, different goals, opposing one another. I couldn’t possibly spend all this money on travel and buy the truck. Not even with $136.72 every two weeks. I was stumped.

Recently, I have come to a sort of – revelation. I thought about my life, in the present moment, and what is important to ME at this point. I want to chase greatness, and success, and the real world. I am excited to work, to begin my career. Whatever it may be in the end, I just want to take a joy ride at everything I can, and really test the waters.

There are still nights I look at the videos and pictures on my old camera and lose the pit of my stomach with longing to go back, back to those simpler times out in the wild. Those nights make me doubt, but in my heart I know what I want. Those trips were great, amazing, truly life changing, but they are not for me right now.

The success I chase is not monetary, not what my parents tell me to do or be, but it is a vision I hold within myself, a vision of a future me. I think of all the different things I could be; a contractor, a President of a company, an actor, a writer, a director.

At school now I can see all the opportunities around me. All the teachers, alumni, friends, family, there to help me start something. My visions and dreams stretch as wide as the MIssissippi, but I do not care, I want to chase them all, and I put work in towards every single one.

I realize everyone has their dreams. Sometimes I envy my old travel companion, and best friend, Tim, who is out in California working on an old VW bus. Or I look at videos of people crossing borders, crossing countries, crossing oceans, and I think of all the miles I could be conquering. But I am different than those – for now.

I can’t tell the future, but I am excited to see what it holds. That will come in time, but for now, I sit back and think of the musty leather riding under me in the truck on the way to some job. This summer I am focusing my energy on just that.

I think, though, about the leather key chain. You know the loop that I can twirl. I look down at my lanyard – simple cloth with some lacrosse company’s logo – the same old thing I’ve had since I was 13. I look at its broken metal and the key to my dorm, separated, in each hand. My first thought; how can I get this fixed?

You see, the leather key chain was all apart of this idea I had of becoming an adult, a working man. But as I grasped the symbol of my youth, years spent twirling between my pointer and middle finger and around my palm, late nights quietly getting the door open, I saw that I can be both – both the traveller and the worker.

I am focused on my working dreams right now, but I will hold on to my travel dreams, my youth, for as long as I can. The desire to keep this old lanyard, this old piece of myself, and all the images of teenage years, proved to me I am that same person inside. I will travel, I will go see what there is to see, I am completely confident of that. As long as I have this lanyard, I will have my youth, and all the wanderlust of those simple years.

New trail; Minimalism

I started moving towards minimalism before I even realized I had stepped foot on the trailhead.

A few years ago, I started getting really into tiny houses, just because I liked the idea of living small, having all your belongings around you, not spread out stringing your mind and worries with them. I saw living small as simple freedom. In my backyard I had a shed I had built my freshman year of high school for beers and poker with my friends. One day in the early Chicago spring of my senior year I can remember looking out at it and thinking ‘I’ve got a damn tiny house right there.’

Soon there after I began the process of converting the simple plywood and lumber box into a livable space (a story I will tell another time). After a month or two it was move in ready, and I had to start the unexpectedly harder process of picking which of my belongings to bring into ‘The Barn’.

Up until that point in my life I had lived far from the pursuit of simplicity. I spent my young years chasing gadgets and gear and clothing, hanging on to each item as long as I could. In reality my bedroom and the rest of the basement was full of things I didn’t need, but was grateful to have.

The more I got into tiny homes and the idea of living in my own, the more I wanted to separate from all that stuff. Rather than sit down and go through it, I took a few of my favorite shirts, pants, books, and other memento into the barn with me, leaving the rest sitting idle and unused down in the basement.


I lived out that summer in the old poker shed at the edge of my backyard and, other than going down to grab a shirt every now and then, the majority of my belongings spent the summer collecting dust. I realized that there was a bigger problem I needed to address, but I was going off to school so I just applied the same philosophy as I did for the barn; take with me what I like.

I was only away at school for a few weeks before I came home to do some reevaluating of my life and its direction, but while there I didn’t think about all the excess I had left at home. I was too busy with the excess I had there at school. Yes, I couldn’t believe it either, but somehow, even when only having brought what I ‘liked,’ I had more than I needed.

Anyways, I moved back home, threw everything in my room, and just ignored it as the cold Chicago winter approached. I kept myself busy with a dream I had to bike cross country that summer (another story I will tell later); working 3 jobs, spending hours researching, planning, and training in the dark early mornings.

In the spring, however, I was forced to face my problem of excess face to face. Around the same time as I came up with the idea to move out to the barn the year before, I had knee surgery and all the things that had occupied me earlier that year were gone. Instead I spent my time split between my bed and my couch. I really started to have a problem with all my unnecessary, unused belongings.

I remember sitting in my bed looking into my open closet at the heaps of clothes and overflowing drawers stocked from years of never throwing a thing out. It drove me crazy. Maybe I became a bit obsessive, but, for whatever reason, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else when surrounded by clutter. I tried putting things away, organizing, tidying up, but I always ended up back where I started; feeling drowned by all the things and possessions I held on to.

One day I had enough. I decided to do something about it; a big ole purge. I hobbled around my room getting rid of what I thought was excess. At first it was easy, tossing t-shirts from little league or middle school events into the goodwill pile, and paper from school years past into the trash. But, after a week, all I had to show for it was two half full plastic bags full of my shit. I donated what I could and threw the rest out. At the time, I actually felt pretty accomplished.

Just a month or two later I was having that same drowning in clutter feeling. The bike trip was approaching and I just decided to give it my best minimalistic effort. Although I was riding all the way to Los Angeles, I ended up packing my bike with less than I had the year prior, when I rode from Seattle to Portland, a much shorter journey.

On the trip I kept in mind all that I had sitting back at home and only allowed myself to buy what I absolutely needed. Even so, at the halfway point of the ride in Amarillo, Texas, both my riding partner and I ended up shipping about 10 pounds of gear and clothes off to our destination in LA. We found we were carrying things we simply didn’t need, and all that extra weight was starting to take its toll. We finished up the rest of the 60 day trip with only the absolute necessities, and I realized then just how little I could actually live on.


Once in LA we got a ride up to Santa Barbara where I spent a month living in my compadre’s apartment with only the gear from the trip and a few extra necessities my mom shipped out (new shoes, sweatshirt, etc.).

Living with so little, not just on the road as a traveling vagabond, but actually in society, I knew it was time to make a full hearted effort at simplifying my possessions, and ultimately my life. I had discovered that the more you own, not only does it weigh you down physically, but also mentally and emotionally. As I prepared to come home I knew I had a month before I was to head back to school, so I made a plan.

With some advice from a decluttering book I lightly skimmed at my sisters place in Santa Monica, I developed a philosophy; keep only which brings me happiness and/or productivity.

When I arrived home 3 weeks ago I immediately got to work, first starting with the easiest group of shit; clothes. I laid out every piece of clothing I had, separated into categories, and went through, piece by piece, deciding whether it was worth keeping or not. Many times a shirt or a pair of shorts would evoke a memory or an emotion, and my mind would start coming up with reasons to keep it, but I always remembered how little I had lived with on the road and in California. Most of the time I ended up realizing I didn’t need nor did I really want it.

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I finished with 5 large bags completely full, and a much, much more empty closet. Happy and proud I moved on to the tougher items, such as books and mementos, with vigor, going forward swift and strong. It took a few weeks but in the end I now find myself sitting on my bed looking around at my clean, decluttered, simple room feeling happy and relieved.


I know I am young, and I know I didn’t have much to begin with in terms of today’s excess society, but I am proud and I feel much simpler. I am bringing almost all of my belongings to school for the true start of my higher education and yet I am still bringing substantially less than I did last year.

I believe living a simple life with only what you need is crucial to happiness and success as it leaves room for other, more meaningful, non-materialistic pursuits.

A simple life though, a minimalistic life, is a process, and I have been working towards it for a while. I know I will continue to keep working, always keeping my belongings in check, recognizing what is important to me.

The more you own, the less you live.


The theory of Doublethought

My theory of Doublethought, an underlying factor in depression, anxiety, and OCD.

Doublethought –

When a thought comes and one gives thought to it, giving it the power of your conscious mind; questioning it, pondering its meanings and origins.

Doublethought is powerful, as powerful as one’s mind, which is ever powerful. If one gives thought to their thoughts, specific thoughts, they can be brought to knew levels of knowledge and understanding, or dragged down to despair, and ultimately torture.

You see, if one gives thought to those especially negative, dark, and even heinous thoughts, they give them the power the thoughts need to control them. This happens often, for fear of the darkness and negativity – not just its presence, but more so its meanings and origin – causes the questioning and pondering that is the very root of doublethought.

When one questions and ponders a scary thought, giving it power, one creates a niche, a little spot in their brain, for that thought. When the thought comes back, triggered by whatever it may be, it finds that familiar spot, and draws power from your fear and weakness.

When doublethought is given to such negativity the appearance of that thought can become reoccuring, and there in lies the torture.

It is only when one uses the power of their mind to recognize the good from the bad, letting go of the negative thoughts that so easily may drag them down, and instead giving doublethought to the positive thoughts that can bring them to enlightenment, understanding, and happiness.

When those anxious, depressive, scary thoughts come, one must resist the unconscious urge to give them power through doublethought, while letting them float away, out of their mind, and out of their life.


Hiawatha Hoodlums

It was sunny and warm Memorial Day weekend of my senior year. We had our three cars packed, school backpacks crammed with camping gear and wine. Bags of Jerkey took up their own seat in the 4×4, piled on top of dried pasta. Our nervous parents met and chatted about what might lie ahead for our ragtag group of adventurers, the Hiawatha Hoodlums.

That day came after weeks of planning. Though, in those weeks, we made many different plans. A plan would be made, discussed, and argued, and it would eventually fall through, but we kept going.

Everyday we met in the back corner of our Economics class and discussed as our teacher, Mr. Mitchell, preached about supply and demand, the loanable funds market, and the federal reserve. With all the failed plans, started from notes, drawings, and maps sketched in that class, we didn’t settle on one until two days before we left.

I had big plans for myself already set for the summer, and I was disappointed that all our grandiose expeditions we thought up had fallen through. To me it felt like we were settling, giving up on a great and wonderful adventure, for two nights of camping in the forests of Michigan, just a state away.

In reality, who was I to complain. My only camping experience up until that point was ten years prior, with my mother, at a State park down the road. My plans for the future filled me with an empty confidence, but I kept my mouth shut, and went along for the ride.

As we made the 600 mile trip that Saturday, I thought “how could this compare to cycling from Seattle to Portland, or camping on the jagged, rocky, cliff lined coasts of Santa Barbara?” I didn’t speak of these summer plans, I just watched the grey cities and streets pass by outside my window.

Almost in an instant, the scenery changed. As we neared the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the smooth black asphalt drew a wavy line through the perfectly straight forest of evergreens. Their bare trunk bottoms visible, with the prickly green branches hanging like blades of a fan, starting a few feet off the ground. This went on for miles as the grey sky flooded the horizon, but filled me with anticipation, not like the emptiness of the grey and lonely towns.

We entered Hiawatha National forest, together, as the hoodlums who were to occupy it for the weekend. We drove through the lush, green trees, on the pristine road, dotted with new and vibrant yellow lines. There was moisture in the air, like a misty fog had just came and went, and even lacking sun, the moisture gave every leaf, and branch, and foot of that road, a soft clarity.

We pulled off in the first gravel lot on our right, and consulted the dirtied forest map high on two wooden posts at the edge of the lot. We saw the trail that would take us past two lakes open up the dense forest just across the two lanes of that quiet highway. We wanted to swim and fish, that is all we truly wanted, and we were going to make it to those lakes, and do just that.

We entered the green of the forest, on the gravel of our trail, and walked single file. We studied the darkening grey skies for signs of sunset or rain. We didn’t know which was worse, but we knew we needed to make camp.

We made it to the first lake with light still left. We heard the stillness of the water in the air, the lack of leaves blowing and branches swinging, we knew we were close. Our smiles faded as we got our first glimpses of the olive green water with clouds of nats dotting its surface. Silently we looked around for a good spot for the night, and we saw a few log benches surrounding a fire pit next to the trail.

We wanted to be in the wild, so we climbed the bluff behind the pit to a landing just far enough away that we felt distant from civilization, but close enough to cook over the fire. We tied up our tarps, pitched our tents, hung our hammocks, and settled in. We talked of cool water, deep dives, and big fish over ramen and hot dogs. We slept well and dry that first night, as the rain held off, and the breeze blew softly.

Trail mix, coffee, and cliff bars were enough to get my rumbling stomach out of my sleeping bag on to the cold, wet, dead fall leaves covering the ground. We packed up the essentials and trusted the forest to keep our belongings safe for the day.

We set off down that same trail that would lead us to Lake Au Train, our big and final prize. We walked with sticks as canes, down hills with zig zagging trails, and through meadows with streams that had no shores. We got to a natural highway, where the trail widened out straight through the trees, as straight as the erect birch that lined the path. We had miles to go and were tired, but the trees, and the wind, and the shining sun, kept our minds busy.


We made it to a forest service road and set our sore, blistered feet off onto the hard pavement, down a hill, towards the sound of running water. We reached a bridge with thick steel railings, crossing a clear river with more bugs than the first lake. For the first time the hoodlums started to argue; do we push on to the lake that flooded our dreams the night before, or do we settle for the unnamed river below our feet?

I wanted to go on, to reach the lake and all its glory, and I had a few others on my side. We convinced the whole crew to go, offering a shortcut straight through the uncharted woods as a compromise. Soon we were turned back by thick twisted mangrove looking trees, like a impassable wall of branches. Back on the road again, we made our way up a hill, down the pavement guaranteed to get us to Au Train. But our feet ached, and we were hungry and thirsty. We all relented our quest peacefully, some blissfully, and turned our heads and our boots back to the bridge.


We climbed over the guard rail and down the grassy hill, through the trees, to a circular landing that jutted out into the slow moving water. Johnny, Wes, James, and Matt started working on lunch. Clark, Rob, and I waded out into the chilling water, with our feet sinking into the cold, soft sand.

Clark swung the fly and his rod in his own rhythm, aiming for the still water behind the fallen tree covered in bugs. I watched with Rob, our teeth chattering, hoping for a catch to add to our lunch of potatoes and corned beef hash.

There was no luck with the fishing, and my gaze turned to the railing of the bridge sitting 8 feet above the water. Both of us soaked, Rob and I made our way through the trees and the mud. We sat on the railing looking down, fearing the drop, but talking about lunch and other distractions. Johnny couldn’t take our waiting, and ran up from behind, swinging over the rail like a gymnast on a pommel horse, into the water. We followed his bravery and his splashes, and made the drop ourselves. We did it over and over again, letting our feet drift to the bottom before bounding up with all our strength, breaking the surface of the water, shaking our hair, and gasping for air.

Lunch was ready soon, and it was plain and simple, but warm and easy on our shivering stomachs. We all sat and ate, warmed up by the sun, trying to forget the 9 mile hike back to camp. We walked back slowly and quietly, our stomachs filled, but our words empty. We looked at the same trees, and the same leaves, and the same streams that had no shores we passed hours before. We stopped to dunk our heads in a babbling brook. By the time we made it back to camp, we were ready to start dinner.

Johnny worked on his signature pasta, while Clark and I ran down to the dirty lake, trying for a catch one last time. We zipped our rain jackets up tight to protect us from the clouds of bugs as we shuffled out on a log floating in the water. Clark was the better fisherman, and he was showing me the motion of the rod like the strokes of a paint brush. The log shook beneath our feet with every throw of the arm. We heard the yell “Dinner is ready,” as we looked down through the dirty water for the fish that hid. Soon we ran back for the pasta and sauce.

We sat around the fire eating, and laughing, and drinking cheap wine and cold river water. The night crept up fast and we could feel the rain coming. We shared tents and tarps that night to sleep well and dry.

The morning came and the rain fell through the leaves soft and steady. We packed up our things, not really speaking to one another, just determined to get back on the trail and to the cars. We walked those few miles back, again in a straight line, but now every curve and branch were familiar. We heard the tires spinning wet on the smooth road surface, and we knew our trip was coming to an end.

We drove home with grey skies, just as we drove up. The road through the evergreens looked the same, even going the other way. We got to the towns and the cities and they weren’t so grey and lonely anymore. Looking back, the summer and my plans weren’t on my mind as we drove home; I just looked, and saw, and talked with the hoodlums.

I remember that trip now, even after my adventures since, as one of the best experiences in my young years. When my hopes were the lowest, and my sights set too high, I was rewarded with the most fulfilling weekend trip of my life. The memories and simplicity of that trip, Hiawatha, and its hoodlums, will stay with me forever. 


I am 19 years old. I have grown through the years, most of my life living in my small hometown west of Chicago, Illinois, but with my roots in the south, and in my birthplace, Atlanta, Georgia. I still hold a southern pride deep down, which shows through in my character, and respect for others, but I embrace my Chicago traits of fortitude and toughness in the face of adversity. Where you are from means a lot to me, and I will carry it with me the rest of my life.

I strive for greatness through simplicity. I have big dreams of the places I want to go in life, and the things I want to do, but they are not flashy or extravagant. I dream of being a struggling writer toiling under the fluorescent lights of a cramped studio apartment in the alleys of Paris, working day jobs to fund my passion. I long for time spent a lone in the woods, or on the open road, being driven forward by the power of my will and my own too feet. I am searching for an automobile to fall in love with, that will love me back; a ’78 Chevrolet 1500 pickup, or a ’72 VW bus, or a ’90s Jeep Cherokee in all its boxy glory.

My dreams and wanderlust fill me with hope, but also an aching that hurts deep down, not wanting to wait a second longer before I start my next adventure. I understand, however, at times in life there are obligations and necessities that can dictate what you can and can not do, so I look for things to fill the void left inside me by my urge to travel, learn, explore, and live.

The most important things to me in life are honesty, self knowledge, hard work, and an open mind. Honesty has manifested itself in me with brute force as I have grown into a young man, on the verge of adulthood, in sharp contrast to my days as a kid, full of white lies and shenanigans. Self knowledge, truly knowing ones self, is a key to life; I have found before you know yourself completely, you can not hold true relationships. Hard work has always been important to me, drilled into me by my father, and reinforced through years of athletics and competition; I believe in any situation you can always change the outcome through handwork. An open mind has become more and more vital to me over the past year, as I come upon a very trying time, a time full of change and uncertainty, I have found it essential to stay positive, keep my head up, and keep my mind open to new information and experiences so I can move forward, always forward, in a positive direction.

Some of my dreams for the near future include but are not limited to; riding my bike from Chicago to Los Angeles, living the summer out in Santa Barbara, attending Tulane University in the fall, living and working in Paris over the next summer. I am always thinking up the next adventure before the current one is even over, so I am constantly working on staying present in the moment, and balancing that with the dreams of the future.

I will always be traveling, exploring, and learning, whether it is within myself, or out in this huge world. From Chicago I begin my true adventure into the void of life.

Simply an introduction

(Thats me, on the right, and my friend Tim, on Hwy 30 in Oregon. Summer 2015)


I have always been writing, most people have; as you grow and learn, you write. But, I haven’t always been a writer. I started to really write, like a writer writes, in the faux leather bound pages of the journal I got from Barnes and Noble my Junior year of high school. I had thoughts, I wanted to get them down on paper, and that is exactly how it started.

It has been a while since then, a lot has changed, both in my writing and in my life, but I want to start this blog for much of the same reasons as why I started to journal; there are things in my head I want to get down, but some I now want to also put out into the world.

In general I am a private person, and thats why I love journaling; it is like a safe for your thoughts. As I have started to write more, though, I have come to compose things that aren’t just about my private thoughts. I form views on the world, big and little, I go on trips, and adventures, and experience things I want to share with all those who are willing to read about it.

There is something about writing that makes the sharing of information so special, more than the spoken word, and videos, and photos (all mediums I thoroughly love). To me, it is the truth in the written word, its permanence, and its natural integrity, that separate it from all other forms of art.

I draw a lot of influence from one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway, and what he says about the writing process; “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” That is what I am going to do here, on this blog. All my experiences, thoughts, adventures, all the “trails” I take and the moments that come with, will be told here, in their truest form.

I am really excited about the road ahead, so come join me.