I think it was in college when I first heard the saying, “The journey in life is the greatest reward.”
Whenever I did, I really needed to hear it. I was 21 years old and in the summer my between junior and senior years of college. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of two years, and I was really hurting.
So I shaved my head. I read The Power of Now. The Tao Te Ching found me soon thereafter. I started to meditate in short bursts–just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I created a little altar on top of clothes chest. There was a plastic Buddha statuette on it, and a little zen sand garden that I made out of a wooden tray from a Michael’s craft store.
Pain does things like that.
Suffering, questions, self-doubt, negative thoughts, everything that I didn’t want to be experiencing became one unstoppable catalyst that thrust me into a period of profound spiritual growth. And although I didn’t suddenly emerge an enlightened senior in college, I did become someone different.
I think I became more of my true self.
Less of whatever or whoever I thought I was.
And all the while this one idea, “The journey in life is the greatest reward,” teased me.
Taunted me. Invited me near it. I wasn’t sure why.
But I felt in my heart that wherever my journey would take me, I wanted it to feel like a reward in itself.
Fast-forward seven years later.
My life has taken a hundred twists and turns, but here I am, still dedicating all my actions and life’s choices to making my journey my greatest reward.
My new book, Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun, is a perfect example of that.
My latest book, Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun debuts next Tuesday, September 2; it’s a collection of 15 essays that were written across 13,000 miles of travel from 2012 to 2013 as I wandered from New York City to the beaches of Hawaii to the mystical landscapes of Iceland.
I’m so excited to introduce you to this book, which tells a vivid story about what it’s like to strive to make the “journey in life” your greatest reward–through all the highs and lows, love and heartbreak, moments of adventure and even two national tragedies.
This work is a snapshot of the “nomadic” lifestyle of a location-independent writer and creative entrepreneur (that’s me).
But the book also tells tales of real-life adventure (and what to do in the moments in between) that hope to encourage you to embark upon on a journey of truth and authentic living of your own, whether traveling abroad or in your own backyard.
Here’s a preview of what you’ll find in Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun, just eight days from today…
Part One: Big Apple
Energy. Noise. Commotion. Seas of people on overcrowded sidewalks. I moved to New York City in the fall of my first book’s publication–and considerable failure. Naively hoping that my first book would help springboard my career as a creative entrepreneur, I was left searching for answers. My business was nearly non-existent, and creatively, I was suddenly shamed by my writing abilities and terrified that I was on the edge of not just bankruptcy, but abject failure.
New York City changed everything…
Chapter 1. The Piano Player. In Chapter 1, the sight of a solo piano player in the middle of a sidewalk in Washington Square Park taught me invaluable lessons about performing your art for the world, and what it’s like to be seen for who you are.
Chapter 2. Welcome To Your New Skin. A curious skin rash crops up when I’m taking a weekend-long vacation in Atlanta, Georgia, to visit a girl who I’m secretly seeing. In the fall-out of some major life changes and business shifts, I feel my identity shifting around me–and my body seems to tell me, it agrees.
Chapter 3. Pop Quiz (A Writer’s Nightmare). As I prepare to launch a last-ditch business project called The Literati Writers that will either save me from bankruptcy or spell it for me, I wake up from a dream that reminds me of what it feels like to be unfairly criticized, graded and shamed. Can we outgrow the old high-school fear of being judged?
Chapter 4. Your Space Is Sacred. Months into living in New York City, I finally understand just how overtaxed I am–emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. The noise, commotion and endless feeling of being “consumed” by New York City’s energy forces me to confront an honest question: am I supposed to be here, or am I meant to be elsewhere?
Chapter 5. After the Storm. After deciding to pack my apartment and move out of New York City, a 100-year super-storm named Sandy ravages New York, New Jersey and Long Island.
Chapter 6. When Your Spirit Moves, Move Your Body Along with It. How do you honor internal shifts, changes and evolution? The mantra that carried me into New York City becomes the mantra that forces me out. I realize that I have to find a new corner of the world to settle into. If the journey really is the reward, I needed to listen to where my journey was calling to take me.
Part Two: Black Sand
Hawaii. Black sand beaches. Swaying palm trees. Ukulele songs.
For 5 weeks, I ventured to Hawaii to live, work and explore life from paradise.
But does living in a perfect environment mean a perfect life? If the backdrop is idyllic and pristine, would the creativity follow? Themes of friendship, connection and love are found throughout Part 2 of Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun.
Chapter 7. The Great Life. I want to live a great life. But I don’t know what it means to live one. Is greatness what is seen, or felt? Is greatness what moves our own two feet, or what inspires the feet of many to move more swiftly beneath them? Now drifting thousands of miles away from home, I start to wonder what, exactly, will make my journey the reward beyond travel, and in everyday life.
Chapter 8. On Love, Heart-Opening, and What Happens After. My secret long-distance relationship ends, and I’m left heart-broken. Only, this time, I’m convinced–I won’t react the same ways. I won’t close myself off. I won’t accept broken. This time, I’m staying “open.” At least, I hope.
Chapter 9. Our World Needs More Bad Art. Artists don’t start as artists. They start as ink slingers, paint pushers, $15 copywriters. I should know. That’s been me for a long time. And here’s why our world needs more bad art–and why your life can benefit from it, in spite of the challenge of creating something less than stellar.
Chapter 10. Idling Down a Volcano on ‘Empty.’ In Maui, my buddy Jacob and I find ourselves in a predicament up a 10,000-foot Hawaiian volcano. What do you do when “the journey” sucks? How do you reclaim the adventure that’s been stolen from you? Jacob and I figure out how.
Chapter 11. On a Cross-Country Flight from Los Angeles to Boston, It All Came Rushing Back. Leadership. Giving. Service. Helping people. On a cross-country flight, memories of 9/11 come rushing back as two bombs explode at the finish line of the Boston Marathon–where my plane is due to land in less than 2 hours.
Part Three: The Midnight Sun
Chapter 12. Waking Up in Iceland (Or, The Escape Artist). As a kid, doctors told my parents that I had “separation anxiety” or acute homesickness that would cause me to freak out and try to escape anywhere I didn’t want to be. Years later, I’m no kid but the tendency to leave wherever feels uncomfortable crops up in my first voyage across an ocean.
Chapter 13. Falling Asleep in Iceland (Or, This is Your Life of Adventure). Determined to reclaim my adventure to Iceland as my own, I fight my inner Escape Artist to turn a morning of disappointments and setbacks into an evening of adventure. New friends, celebration and a pop star encounter later, I realize why travel can teach you so much about life–and yourself.
Chapter 14. Please, Never Apologize for These Things. Being “unapologetically you.” What does it mean? What shouldn’t we ever apologize for? My take on living true to you, and 17 “rules” for living an unapologetic life.
Chapter 15. What We Shouldn’t Need Reminders Of. The clock ticks. We know that we won’t live forever. Why, then, do we wait? A final rallying cry to inspire adventures of your own–whether abroad, or in your own back yard.
Buying this great book of essays will also support an incredible cause.
Simply stated, I cannot wait for September 2nd to get here!
I believe that Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun is some of my best work, and that its 15 essays will entertain you, move you, and help you live a more rewarding journey, every step of the way.
But, best of all?
A portion of proceeds from each copy of my new book will be donated to the Children of the Ganges school in Rishikesh, India, in the form of school supplies that I will carry in my backpack and deliver in person this November.
You can even pre-order the book on Kindle today: http://bit.ly/BABSMS.
And so, my journey rolls on. I’m excited to continue my travels this autumn with a visit to India–and I’m even more excited to hand deliver school supplies to children in need.
Who knows where the journey will roll next? We can’t ever say.
But I do know that with this old “journey is the reward” adage in my pocket, I’m determined to help you make your journey its own reward, too, wherever it may lead you.
PS – Please help me share the meaningful messages in this book by sharing it with friends and on Facebook on September 2nd. Honest, helpful reviews are always deeply appreciated, and word-of-mouth recommendations are what authors like me rely on to help share quality work–without sleazy marketing tactics.