“You’ve got to grow up sometime.” Alex’s couch surfing host interjected in a flat mumble that denoted either absolute sincerity or comic genius. I’m still not sure which.
Alex was animatedly recounting one of his many inconceivable moments in his two year trek hitchhiking across the country with his best friend, Batman. (No. He’s not insane. Batman is a pit bull.). When this host bestowed him with this pearl of wisdom Alex brushed it off like dandruff, in a friendly tone, “That’s what they keep telling me.” (Insert upward inflection and shrug here.) His host; persistent, cigarette in hand, middle aged and seemingly not fond of extraneous guests at 7:30 in the morning continued, “No. I’m serious. What are you, like thirty?”
Alex confirmed, close enough, “Twenty-nine.”
“Yeah. You’ve got to grow up some time.”
Alex’s responding laughter and my eyebrows both seemed to be riddled with question marks. the fantastic part of all of this, to me, was that the host quite clearly owned some sort of comic book business. His house was covered in comic paraphernalia and car emblazoned with the comic company logo and info. While comics in no way suggests immaturity, this enthusiast demographic is not notorious for counter-Peter Pan propaganda.
It’s funny how we project what it means to be grown up. It was clear to me that while Alex lacked the conventions, he in no way had a deficit of maturity or self-sufficiency. He pays his way with money he makes from writing about his adventures. He adapts and dedicates himself fully to all of his endeavors. He does not mooch or expect hand-outs. I had a hard time seeing what exactly he needed to grow up to be.
He fist bumped his way into my life last Friday after I snapped a shot of him fist bumping a life size puppet and he introduced himself. In the sub ten minute conversation I found out he was from Colorado and because he feared everything that it meant to hitchhike across the country with no time limits, he naturally embraced it. We all do that, right – just readily jump into that which we fear most? He gave away all of his possessions, packed up 80 – 100 pounds of gear, plus one dog and set out toward Oregon. On the way he met hobos and even attended a hobo convention (I noted, this seems awfully organized for a group of people who don’t have a home or work.), he became an employee at the infamous Google and was felt-up by a stranger in line for a ride at Disney World. These are just a few of his adventures you’ll find on his blog.
Yet, Alex’s flare for the road less traveled began long before the open road. Knowing college was not for him, he joined the army. Afterward, he delved into the world of finance, began developing his skills as an artist, and even began teaching several different styles of martial arts (Including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other forms I don’t remember), all before he became a nomad. He recounts these stories without an ounce of ego or need to impress. It’s merely the reality he created for himself.
I asked him if he ever got lonely. He said never. Part of his goal in this journey was to cut down the time it takes to truly connect with another human being. He advised: never small talk, be authentic and tell a story. I realized he had become a master at this as well, since he’d left an impression on me in the ten minutes I encountered him three days prior. I knew I needed to know this guy better before he traveled on. This is how I found myself engrossed in his animated account at his host’s dining room table at 7:30 on Monday morning.
Alex is an icon to the reminder that not everyone has to go the way of convention. As he put it, when he switched his thinking from fear of what he could not achieve to assuming he could achieve it, it was amazing what he accomplished. That’s a life view that is beautifully subjective. All of us have our own fears we assume that could be assumptions of achievement.
If you’d like to read more of Alex’s perils and profundities click on this link to his blog.