A Year In Chile
Well, that’s it. In January, I took a flight from DC to Santiago, and started a new, nomadic life with my girlfriend. I’m writing this from the San Salvador airport. Do I feel different? No, not really. Have I learned a lot? Absolutely. So now what? I decided to put together a few thoughts on wisdom I’ve gained over the last 11 months.
1. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut is the most important book you can read right now. I read a lot during my time in Chile, and Player Piano stands out as a highlight because of its timeliness and appropriateness as we stand in the face of a populist movement in the states, and Trump lays out his plans for the next four years under the context of a simplification revolution in the guise of living "patriotically correct." Read it.
2. Consumerism is dead to me. I always wanted to live a life where I didn’t have a lot of shit, and it took me moving to a new country to do it. Erin and I saved a lot of money by being in Chile, and the only things we paid for were food, housing, and the costs of our adventures. Outside of those three things, I only bought two pairs of pants and a jacket. I used to crave new things. While I don’t think I’ll ever fully escape wanting the next new thing, I’m well beyond acting on those desires. Saving money is the new fad, y’all! Nearly everything, and I mean everything, is a luxury item.
3. Eating healthy in the US is so remarkably easy I am shocked at how infrequently I focused on my nutrition and what I was putting into my body over the last 28 years. Erin has opened my eyes to proper food consumption and awareness, and when I was in small cities where I could only choose between veggies, meat, or over-salted/over-sugared foods, Erin never let me take the easy way. I rarely cooked steak or pork chops in DC, or even made meals based around veggies. That will change. It’s more expensive in the short term, but it’s better for me in the long run.
4. Discipline is the most important factor in success. I went on a run of reading a lot of business books. The Four Disciplines of Execution, Good to Great, the Steve Jobs biography, Poke the Box, Deep Work, etc., and there is one common thread in all of these books: discipline. Having the willpower to decide on a path and stick to it, whether it is over the course of a work day or over the course of a year, having the discipline to accomplish what you set out to accomplish is the defining factor in success.
5. Weekends are for making the most of life. I guess this is super obvious, but living in DC and not having a car, I honestly didn’t make the most of my weekends to visit the outdoors, and opted for the city life. The city is fun, it’s vibrant, but I feel like I kind of missed the boat on some of the best Shenandoah and other national parks had to offer by not being out in the wilderness at every chance I had. While in Chile we hiked, adventured, or traveled nearly every single weekend. It was exhausting, but simultaneously exhilarating. I haven’t seen much of the USA as it pertains to National Parks, and I see 2017 shaping up to be a year of constant domestic exploration.
6. Try everything. Yes, I watched Zootopia but I wasn’t so influenced by Shakira’s song as you might think. After I completed my year-long challenge of posting a photo to Instagram every day in February, I decided that I would act on every creative impulse I had. That turned into then writing those things down, which turned into me not doing any of those things. I have a list of ideas of things I just never started. As I look toward 2017, and my impending 30th birthday in 2018, I can’t think of a more fitting time to commit to my ideas, no matter how far flung.
Living abroad for a year opened my eyes to a lot of things that were always right in front of my eyes, but it took being completely shaken out of my routine and comfort zone to see what those things were. I now understand the beauty of a minimalist life that maximizes enjoyment.