23 Aug You Can Live a More Interesting Life — It Only Takes a Single Step
DECEMBER 2019, a couple of months before the world forever changed. I remember sitting at the back of the train. The windows were grey and opaque with fog.
The landscape felt sodden and dystopian: red construction lights flickered in the metallic sky. My dream overwhelmed me as we sailed above Tokyo Bay.
I don’t want to live an ordinary life.
I want to spend my days exploring the unknown, for this brings me more joy than anything else.
I could live here in Japan, I thought — really anywhere that would challenge me to grow in a meaningful way.
Yet something feels right about this. My interest in the country runs deep; my knowledge of the world is scant, although budding, and the only way to cultivate it is through experience.
During this chapter of my life, I’ve realized that experience is what I crave, not the stability of a perfect routine, but the routine of fresh, challenging, and unique experiences.
This is the story I want to live, I want to write, I want to tell.
It’s up to me and nobody else to take that step and tell it.
“When I was starting out, I got a really good piece of advice,” writes the acclaimed author Ryan Holiday in his article You Must Live an Interesting Life.
“An author told me: If you want to be a great writer, go live an interesting life. He was right. Great art is fueled by great experiences. Or, if not ‘great’ experiences, at least interesting or eye-opening ones.”
This advice doesn’t just apply to being a writer or a storyteller. When we face the unknown, which we usually do with new and interesting experiences, we may use our mind, our body, our heart, in ways that we haven’t.
This provides further understanding to move through life with a wider range of ability and competence.
Your story, the one you’re writing every day, doesn’t have to be interesting to anybody but you.
But only you know if it’s truly interesting. You know if the sunlight that drifts through the window in the morning inspires you to get out of bed or makes you wish the day could be different.
You know if what you’re doing is challenging enough, and if the lifestyle you live corresponds with who you are. We have one shot at writing our own distinct story full of challenges and setbacks, wins and revelations.
Like a great story of fiction or a movie that resonates deep within, I believe the highs and lows of life create a story worth telling. They come from putting ourselves out there with our hearts on the line.
As a kid my favorite shows were Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. Their adventures inspired me to learn, to discover, to get out there.
Could that one day be me?
A flip switched on that train. What seems like for the first time, I started taking my ideal life, career, and capabilities seriously.
Before that day, the answer to the question, can that one day be me, felt like an unrealistic fantasy. But now I was in Japan with a legitimate opportunity. It took a mindset shift and action.
“life is always presenting you with opportunities,” writes Holiday.
“A road diverges in the woods, and we have a choice. The safe one and the dangerous one. The one that pays well and the one that teaches a lot. The one that people understand and the one they don’t. The one that challenges us and the one that doesn’t. The person who chooses safety, familiarity, the same thing as everyone else? What perspectives will they gain that will allow them to be distinct, unique or wiser than others? What will the person who never risks hope to ever gain?”
Of course I could grow at home, yet it’s not just the personal growth I desire. I felt the call then and even more strongly now to face the world and tell a story. My story. Mine, because it’s inspiring to me. That’s all that matters.
My particular inclinations make traveling, writing, and sharing what I discover in the world the adventure that I’m after.
But an adventure, a hero’s journey — can take place wherever you are in life. There mustn’t necessarily be a significant life change.
But we must understand: there’s always a choice.
This 2019 trip to Japan was greatly inspired by Tokyo-based content creator Adrian Bianco, who runs the digital publication sabukaru.online.
His elite Japanese ramen guides fueled our adventures, and his digital magazine portraying Japanese subculture continues to inspire me as a creator.
My stomach twisted and fluttered as I sat there on the train, considering writing Bianco an email essentially asking for a job in Japan.
The idea overwhelmed my thoughts as rain enveloped the sky. That it intimidated me provided the key. It’s what I had to do.
I told him I’m a writer considering moving to Japan and would love to contribute to his magazine. I didn’t know what that really meant or how I’d move to Japan; yet something told me I just had to go for it and see what happened.
Bianco wrote back a few days later while my troupe and I roamed the ancient city of Kyoto. He didn’t have any positions open, but thanked me for reaching out and supporting. He responded. I was taken seriously, and that was all I needed.
Even if he didn’t respond, I took myself seriously by reaching out. It was the first time I’d called myself a writer, the first time I acted on the desire of my heart and soul.
If I succumbed to the doubt which says you’re not a writer and you don’t have anything worth saying, I’d likely find myself in a job I don’t feel connected to, wondering why I never took a chance.
Instead, after three years and many ensuing steps to find my way in the world, I’m preparing to move to Japan. In hindsight it all makes sense how one thing has led to the next, yet it all still blows my mind.
Over the past few years as Covid has made us reconsider what is possible, I’ve accomplished goals and taken steps towards my dreams that I never could have imagined.
There have been tears, probably more of joy than pain. And even though there will always be self-doubt, resistance, highs and lows and questions, I sincerely feel I’m on my path.
This is my story, and I believe the universe will take us where we’re meant to go when it sees we’re willing to go there.
What story would inspire you to get out of bed in the morning? What story would you like to look back on without regret? What story simply sounds interesting?
So do it. Live it. Pick up the pen and write the story you’re meant to tell. It might just take a single step to change your life forever.