A lone man on a lonely pier. Ryan Brown of Lost Boy Memoirs stares out into the ocean near a beach in Melbourne, Australia, wind in his hair and thinking about life and how to make travel a reality.

Do you dream of world travel? How about traveling for an undetermined amount of time? Has something stopped it from happening? I constantly struggle with this internal battle about how to travel long term, dreaming about traveling the world forever, but how the hell do we do it? And is it a real possibility?
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Sometimes I stand on a sea-worn lonely pier that stretches into a smoldering horizon, or in a groaning green forest as the leaves whisper to the wind, or in some ancient ruin of a once-upon-a-time civilization with my hands tracing the veins of centuries in the cracks, and I wonder to myself — is this all real?


This frolic about the planet. This aimless tumble I’ve taken outside of the living room and away from the buzzing television set and the familiar four walls to trip and traipse and trudge about the world like a funny fawn.

Or is this tramp about the dreamscape just an elastic illusion, bound by the limits of society and fate just to snap back into place with a crack on the skin and a painful reminder not to pull away too far? Is it just a small boy’s imagination until slapped across the face and brought back down from the clouds?

Maybe this aimless wander outside of the purposed rules of society and normality is a tug of war against the threads of life. Maybe it’s meant to be pulled until breaking point where the limits of the elastic reality snaps. Where you tug so hard with sweat stinging your eyes and blood on your hands and your muscles searing with fire until you drag life onto your side of the line.

In the process of the painful victory, you rip your life from someone or something else’s control and you fall back exhausted and caked in sand with a smile on your face as the wind kisses your cheek.


Can I win this tug of war? Can I figure out how to make my dream of traveling the world real for more than short trips?

I was, and still consider myself, a boy in the clouds. That was the accusation my father groaned or yelled day by day. All the while, my mother would be on the high side of the inhaled realm on whatever substance took her pain away and told me to stay in the clouds with her. To dream. The weight of life on Ewell Avenue was too much for the brain to bear and the heart to beat so the mind would take me away.

But like father and mother, like son. Eventually my imagination wasn’t good enough, so like many of as we get older, substance becomes the escape.

Albert Einstein said that, “Imagination is everything” and it was for me; it would take me into the forest to hear that whisper of the leaves and wind while on the hunt for mythical beasts. Into a cold dank trickling creek that became a pretend surging river and fight for life. The ascension into the sky as I learned to fly from the sparrows. Only to be dragged back to reality as it was in the asbestos-shingled home sweet home.

Over years, the cracked and weeping yellow shingles took on the appearance of an infected toe-nail as it decayed, and the interior festered with old wounds to the heart and soul. It was the manifestation of failed dreams. Every time, pulled down from the clouds and painfully reminded that it wasn’t possible to fly too far away.


So are we all here to exist in cages constructed by someone else?

With the fear of tripping on our way out the door and too afraid to fall on our face at the beginning of the aimless wander? This dabble with defiance? Or is this aimless exploration more targeted than the act of red X’s on glossed calendars and the weekly anticipation of the paycheck? And the real question I ask myself on those lonely piers or in groaning forest or within ancient ruins is — can this be forever or only fleeting?

Forever in the sense of one’s first breath to final heartbeat. Where forever only exists within that finite span of time. Forever for living and breathing and smiling and being. Forever until the hourglass empties of sand and your vessel is given back to nature, and it is spun over to become another’s time on earth.

And when you expire, there is no doubt that life had be lived like the fiercest of fires.

Is it not like Alan Watts says, where “you are the aperture at which the universe looks at and admires itself” which is our purpose, to grasp the infinite multiplicity of possibility and entertain Time until the curtain draws closed and an encore erupts in the cosmos. Is it not that we twirl around and amongst the stars in this blue-green ball and they in turn waltz with our eyes and minds in the sky?

So why not leave rules of another and have a dance with life?

To screw up.

To step on toes.

To blush at mistakes.

To keep dancing.

To take a chance.

Sometimes the dance gets tiring. Not physically or spiritually, but in the sense that your mind has been trained so much to worry, that the worry about how to keep the true dance with life going becomes tiring. Sometimes you step off of the carousel of perceived normality and go exploring, just to get back on the ride and spin round and round.

[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]Why do we return to what we hate?[/x_custom_headline]

A man wearing a Mexican poncho and fedora walking on a beach at dusk with sailboats in the distance. Ryan Brown of Lost Boy Memoirs thinking about life while walking on the beach in Melbourne Australia.

You waltz with the stars and put on a performance but worry takes hold and you wonder if this much happiness is meant to be. This much freedom. I know I do. The boy in the clouds, but I’ve never pushed past the limit. I look the opposite way as life flashes by to get a momentary glimpse of a world outside the cycle.

Blurred moments of color and life as day after day pass, and memories and chances get left in the last rotation. Sometimes I hop off for longer than before. But I always hop back on. I leap off and live and swear I’ll never come back to the carousel. And I return.

Round and round again.

I’ll go away for six to nine months and vow not to go back to a job I hate, and I always do. I never tug hard enough. I pull at life but get stuck in a stalemate. And I think it is, as it was for my child self, the lifelong fear of letting go of the anchor because I was told I cannot. It’s that instilled fear. Someone planted it in us to dilute the human spirit.

“Your head is too far in the clouds boy, you’ve got to come back down.

There are times when I cannot tell if this is reality or not — the times when my feet dangle out of a ledge of a 400 year old building in Prague scribbling stories in a journal, and next minute I look up from the chicken-scratch on a pad of paper after writing down a food order in a restaurant.

One day I’ll be watching rain drops piddle and paddle on the obsidian-like stones of Roman roads from a window of a 2,000 year old theater, and next I’m opening my eyes to the scream of my alarm for a job I hate. Round and round. Pulling on life but not sweating and bleeding and aching for it.


Is it the concrete one, where the rules and regulations construct a set path and a limitation on the spirit for perceived safety and stability and your days are spent cashing out your energy and happiness for the benefit of someone else?

Or is it the dangerous one, where the next step is always unknown and wallet is always low but time spent doing things that make you happy limitless and each day holds endless possibility?

The anxiety of not being able to keep up a life of travel or creative pursuits is, funny enough, what draws us back to the carousel. We do what we love, but go back to what we don’t because we are afraid of running out of ways to keep doing what we love.

It’s quite the silly cycle I must say. And thinking about 5 years of myself going off and doing what I love, to return to waiting tables because I was afraid of running out of money to keep traveling — HA, what an absurd thing to do.

Each time, it’s a punch in the gut to realize I have yet to escape this cycle.

All of this time spent putting one foot off the ride takes away energy and time that could be spent focusing 100% on creating our own reality. Where, instead of just finding time in between to pursue what you truly and deep down want to make your life be defined by, we could spend each day working towards it to your full capacity and making it happen.

Each day, I grow tired of not doing what I love.

It’s a crippling feeling at times, when you judge yourself for not having the fortitude to follow through with your dreams, and it just makes you want to slink back into the “easy” life where things like schedules and paychecks and unhappiness are at least consistent. Over time, we get a rush of, “I’ll do it this time!” and give it a go only to be haunted by what-ifs that sap your drive and energy. When our wallets begin to look scarce on money, instead of turning on overdrive and cracking out a furry of energy, we start coming with back-up plans on what to do when we fail. A failsafe for our dreams just commits preemptively to failure.


There is one question you and I and everyone must ask ourselves: How bad to we want to create our own reality? 

How bad do we really want to travel long term and make our dream real?

Do we wholly want it and are ready to put our entire being into it?

Or are we only half interested in turning whatever it may be into our way of sustaining the life we desire — be it writing, videography, music, art, yoga, or even something like owning a cafe? Travel provides ample time for building your passions into a career so a life of travel and creation can be a reality.

It’s just a matter of choice. And the effort put forth.

I know this life, the one where I travel and create things and experience thing — that is the reality I want. It is those actions that fulfill me. The times when I stand on a shore, or atop a mountain, or sit in the forest — when I close my eyes and feel my body dissolve into the earth, and it’s as though the grass grows around me or the trees root in me or the waves rise over me like a time-lapse of eternity, and my heartbeat pulses with that of nature’s.


You can feel it when you let the natural world consume you. When my closed eyes turn from black to glimmering stars as if the backs of my eyelids reflect the universe when I’m at peace, and my breathing is the sigh of the ocean. I don’t open my eyes to find myself in walking in circles taking orders. Flying to faraway places is, like the hopeful boy in the clouds, the manifestation of my spirit and desire. Not rushing around daily to do something that makes me unhappy. Creating and experiencing and positively affecting the world. Not just clocking in and out.

It’s the smiles of the world.

The connection of new friends.

The spices in the air of an unfamiliar place.

The ever-changing cities and towns and villages.

The sound of languages unknown.

The sunsets and sunrises in different timezones.

The feel of the earth in all its forms in different countries.

The digestion of cultures and people.

The pursuit of knowledge by experience.

The exploration of ones self and the courage to overcome ones limitations.

[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]It’s not just a wish. Not just a hope. Not just illusion. Not just a silly child’s imagination.[/x_custom_headline]

A dandelion held in front of a beautiful landscape for making a wish. Ryan Brown of Lost Boy Memoirs holds a dandelion in front of Il Tresimeno Lake in Umbria, Italy, showing the "Dream on" tattoo.

It is this reality I want to live forever while I have my own forever. While I have now to live and not putting it off until I never do. Not putting life off until I can one day retire and groan about my back while I do the geriatric shuffle through tourist attractions. Because normality if fatal to the human spirit, and complacency kills more people before they are buried.


A life of travel paired with doing what you love to support it is an absolute possible reality, and it’s time to choose and commit. I know what my choice has been for years, so instead of allowing anchors to hold me back, it’s time to stop turning my back on it. I’m ready to jump off the carousel and never look back. To stand on lonely piers and in groaning forests and in ancient ruins and know that this is reality, not illusion.

At least that is what I tell myself every time.

So can this time be different?

How can you travel long term?

How can I?

Make a decision to travel long term and make it a reality. Put all of your energy into it. We have to choose this life over the other and commit to it.

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  1. Liya January 28, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for this amazing article. Often, i have the very same thing going on my mind but i wasn’t ready to leave with my commitments. We are never really done with commitments anyway. Once i have saved enough money, i’ll take the leap and reread this article again for reassurance. Definitely worried of the what ifs but each day in my routine life felt like i’m being hold back to something beautiful out there..

    1. Ryan - Site Author February 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you for the wonderful comment Liya, and happy you liked the article! Excited for you to take the leap as well and I hope you can fulfill your commitments and not have to worry as you travel!


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