I Traveled Weekly Between South Florida And NYC For 3.5 Years. Here Is What I Learned
I’m turning 30 tomorrow, and I really have not spent much time reflecting on what that means to me, or to the people around me.
A large reason why I have essentially avoided the internal dialogue is because I have spent much of my emotional energy this year attempting to reconcile the fact that I’m leaving NYC, my hometown, with little to no idea as to when, or exactly how, I will be able to return.
And so, before I look to open the next chapter of my life, I need to close and reflect upon the previous one.
The most prominent theme of the chapter I am looking to close involves travel. Over the span of three-and-a-half years, I have traveled (almost) weekly between New York and South Florida, spanning 147 round trip flights and over 215,000 miles. Although I spent most of my week in South Florida, NYC never ceased to function as home. I returned every weekend-wondering what it would be like to permanently say goodbye one day.
Movement, and self- imposed transience as a general concept, takes courage. 40% of Americans never leave their hometown, and there is a reason for this: stagnation is the easy way out.
That day has come, and the next chapter of my life will undoubtedly contain less consistent travel. But motion, I have come to learn, is the only way to ensure growth. Life is measured by a wide array of deltas: how much we have grown is relatable only to where we, ourselves, began.Quantification of change is what constitutes progress. Travel begins and ends in one particular location, but story is built upon everything in between, and the change we experience.
The question becomes, what has changed, and what have I learned over the last three-plus years:
1) If you do not seize control and grab life by its horns, it will adapt to control you.
Life is a single player game designed to be controlled by the user, yet it simultaneously maintains every capacity to unfold without your input. The moment you allow life to make a decision for you, it will. Taking control of your life does not mean you control every outcome, it means you have the ability to form the input you desire. The less you take control, the harder it becomes it to regain it.
2) The success or failure of a long-distance relationship is not tied to location, common interests or maintaining date nights-it is strictly a function of sustained, concentric effort.
A long-distance relationship is not unique from the prospective of effort. All relationships require relentless effort and unwavering commitment to the entire concept and institution of effort. What’s remarkable about long-distance relationships is how similar they are to just about any serious, non-long distance relationship. There is no “extra” effort involved because all relationships require there be no “extra” left. Nothing can be left in the tank.
3) Humans are designed to adapt to almost anything.
People would ask me all the time: “How do you do it?” and I never truly had a response to the question. Simply put, I never actually felt like I was doing much of anything other than boarding a fancy tubular bus in the sky with DirectTV. After a while, my commute felt no different than when I rode the train into the city from Long Island every morning. It just, was.
Much of life is binary. Do X or you can almost guarantee Y will happen. The problem is that actions are not mapped to consequences immediately. Not exercising for a week or even a few months does not necessarily make you wildly unhealthy. For better or worse, the greatest tool for change is consistency. With consistency comes regularity, and from regularity hard-formed habits are born. Impossibility is a figment of one’s imagination born from deep-rooted defense mechanisms; Possibility is an exercise in finding comfort amidst discomfort. It’s only impossible until you do it. Learn to find comfort amidst chaos, by internalizing that it won’t take long for you to actualize it as your new norm.
4) Your environment is everything.
The company you keep will shape your growth, or lack thereof, more than just about any other third-party factor. Nothing will set you back farther than the wrong friends, co-workers, or bosses.
There is a sea of money out there. There are far fewer good bosses and managers. Chase good management, no matter how far you have to travel, how hard you have to work, or how little the pay is (providing of course that you can keep the roof over your head). Good leadership does not carry definitive value because the value is unlimited.
When Warren Buffet sought out Benjamin Graham as his mentor, Buffet asked to work for Graham for free. Graham’s response? “Free is overpriced”.
5) Time gains velocity within perception, and your perception of time changes.
When you were a child, a year felt like a century. As you get older, years feel like months. I believe this happens because experience teaches us that duality exists everywhere. Life is both short and long. Time beings to gain momentum, and as it does, our perception of large blocks of time change. Yet, as we gain perspective, we begin to understand that while the next decade may not be that far away, there will be many more to come. We arrive at the realization that time is our most precious asset, and that the more you value something, the harder it is to trade upon.
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I am not a particularly courages person, although I do wish I was and I do believe it can be cultivated- much like happiness or empathy. Turning 30 is nothing more than a steppingstone, an opportunity to continue to turn the pages of life, no different than any day. Time is a horizon upon which I want to focus on cultivating courage, compassion, and hard work.
My friends and family remind me that it is a time to celebrate, so maybe I will. Just a little.
There is much left on the horizon.