10,000 Miles in 100 Days: Leaving Security Behind to Travel Alone

Posted by Patrick Semales

In 2012, I quit my job and decided to leave safety and security behind.

It wasn’t doing anything for me anyways, other than keeping me comfortable with apathy. If I had stuck through it, I probably would be making twice the amount of money that I made by the time I left. I could’ve had a down payment on a house, I could’ve found a nice girl and perhaps planted some roots for a life of stationary normalcy. I shudder at the thought now, and cannot express how thankful I am that I got out while I could. Nothing excited me back then, and it truly weighed me down.

Don't Be Afraid to Leave Things Behind

How many of us just do something because that is what it takes to pay the bills, what is required of us to get by? How many excuses have you told yourself to make yourself comfortable with what you’re doing? Perhaps you have your dream job, or perhaps it isn’t your dream job but you are genuinely pleased with the work you do for at least five days a week. Well that doesn’t exist for a tremendous percentage of the working class.

I was completely lost. It was a job that did nothing but inspire me to perpetuate this vast feeling of nothingness. So I left it. I figured that if all I felt was nothingness, I should go explore nothingness as deeply as possible, and hope that somewhere in it I would find something worthwhile. An uninspired work life motivated me to throw myself into solitude. I had no plan, no destination, and quite frankly I didn’t even have any hope. In my mind I had already given up, but perhaps something in my subconscious had not.

Not Having a Plan is OK

With no idea where I was going or what I was doing, I traveled 10,000 miles over the course of 100 days. For that enormous distance and time, I traveled throughout the United States, covering 18 different states. Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and finally Texas, where I ran out of money. It wouldn’t be 10K miles if you charted it out, but I took my time, and I zigzagged, and often backtracked.

Being Alone Connects You to Your Surroundings

This trip gave me a lot of time to myself.

While I have always had an appreciation for nature and enjoyed the outdoors, this was a drastic change of pace for me. It wasn’t just a casual stroll through the woods behind my apartment. I was living out there, I was a part of it. Looking back on that adventure in 2012, I don’t know what really brought me back to life; the serenity of untarnished wilderness, or the camera I brought along to look at it all with.

Looking through the lens was a different way of looking at life. As soon as I would put it back in its bag, my vision would return to normal, and I would go back to dwelling on apathy. But through that viewfinder, I saw things the way I had to see them.

The inherent desire to get away from the busy complications of human nature and spend some time in the quiet mountains is older than civilization itself. I’m also certainly not the first man to take a camera along with with me.

Share Your Experiences

The only difference to my story that made me feel it was a worthy one, was in the amount of reception and support I received almost instantaneously as I progressed. I started sharing the images and story on Instagram, and it didn’t take very long to reach thousands of people. 

Inspiring people was an exciting thing to have happen for me, since I had allowed myself to believe for so long that I couldn’t have a positive effect on anybody anymore. It motivated me, it frightened me, and it gave me a sense of responsibility. When my money was dwindling, I decided to stop somewhere and begin the process all over again. I knew I had to get a job, start saving up money, bide my time, and then take off once again.

If my images and adventures can change even one person's outlook on life, then in my eyes, I have succeeded. That’s worth sacrificing stability for.

If a Change Needs to Happen, Dedicate Your Time to Making it Happen

If you have found yourself in a place or a position that is unfulfilling to you, well it’s about time you start working towards correcting that. It might take a long time. It took me almost two years to take my first step. It takes persistence, patience, and unending dedication to yourself.

But, making yourself happy is the most rewarding experience one can strive for. Set a goal, and work towards it. Do not let anything get in your way. I’m not telling you to abandon your responsibilities, but if a change needs to happen… systematically make your way towards it. When you love something, it should be pursued relentlessly.

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress. If you'd like to support a documentary about Patrick Semales, check out this Kickstarter

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