At the risk of sounding cheesy and corny, kayak fishing changed my life. Let me explain…
I live on 10 acres of land in Conroe, Texas, in an 18 x 24 ft (432 sq. ft) finished shed, which I lovingly call “the Shack”.
I have no mortgage, no car note and endless space for all my toys and projects. I have no HOA rules and the subsequent threatening letters. I’m surround by green trees, wildlife and an full supply of natural, creative inspiration sources. I’m living like some Filipino Thoreau (with a high-speed internet connection and tech tools acting as my journal.) I’ve never been happier. Ever.
I’d like to say this was all calculated and planned – but it was not. My life, my reality, as it is today – is the result of a series of fortunate and unfortunate events. Life is simply this way and whether you want change or not – it will happen and you must respond to it.
Where do I start?
Listen: Turning 30 is a major milestone in most peoples lives, it’s like 30 New Years Eve’s – combined into one day. You take a look at your circumstances and your situation. Your career. Your next moves. Your goals. Your achievements and your failures. You take an honest look at where you’re at and where you want to go.
After spending 4 years of apartment living with 2 separate girlfriends and discovering my remarkable ability to be able to move all my crap out in one day, in one trip. I realized it was time to have some ownership. It was time for equity – I needed to buy a home, plant my roots and become a grown-up.
I found a nice townhome, within my budget and close to work, in the Woodlands, TX. I made sure I found a neighborhood, with a stocked community pond… because fishing.
I had (and still have) an awesome career where I am challenged to use both my right and left brain. I now had my own home. I was nesting, preparing for the next stage in my life, to be stable and ready – to start and support a family.
I also had a blast playing with my new home – designing my space as I see fit. I turned my broken spa into a mini fishing pond, I turned my dining room into a lounge, I used beds for couches. I started an electronic cigarette business.
Well, my relationship at the time did not pan out as I had expected and I found myself alone in my townhome. So I went out – all the time. Sushi Bars. Wine Bars. Clubs. Happy Hours. Pre-drinking before drinking. Eventually black-out drinking. Hearing hilarious stories of things I don’t remember – style drinking.
For all intensive purposes – I was living the “good” life. I had a home and a career that supported my social life. I was young, ambitious and on top of the world. Ironically, I was the least happiest I had ever been. With all my worldly, on-paper progress, internally – I had regressed and I was depressed.
I was just following the plan. Go to school. Get a degree. Start a career. Buy a house. Start a family.
I have nothing against this plan, for most people it works – it brings them true, honest happiness. But to follow the plan for the sake of following the plan and expecting happiness – is flawed. I don’t blame following the plan for my unhappiness, I blame my bad choices for dealing with my unhappiness – for my unhappiness. Ultimately, I found myself living a life I did not want. It simply did not fit me. This was not what I wanted to represent – this was not my legacy.
After two years of living “dat life” at the bachelor pad, my mom became diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, a condition that simply means your heart can give out any moment – any time.
I decided to rent my town home (and eventually sell it) and move to my parent’s property. It was always their dream that their 5 kids would eventually live out on their property – a family compound. Inside, I knew it was a time for change and I took the opportunity to do so. I moved in 2 weeks after my Mom was diagnosed.
I wanted my parents to see their dream come into fruition. I wanted to be able to come home and have dinner with them. I wanted to check-in on them in the mornings, before work.
I decided to move into a shed, a temporary house they used to spend their weekends in, before they moved into their big house.
It was a finished shed: insulation, plumbing, floors, a sink, shower and bathroom. It still needed a lot of work and I buried myself in fixing it up – I had projects and it kept me busy – away from bars, away from parties and night life. I learned electrical, plumbing and general handyman stuff.
I was slowly changing my reality. I was reprioritizing and redefining what was important. It took me over 30 years to fully understand what was truly important to me. I spent a lot of lonely nights in “the Shack” – worried about my future and what people would think of my current living condition. I used to have a nice house, that communicated my “status”. What does “the Shack” say about me now?
It was a paradigm shift and it was drastic. I used to live in a world driven by status, image and money to a world focused on personal growth, true relationships with friends and family, and a genuine desire to help others.
I had to stop caring about what others thought because what I was doing felt right – it felt natural and it was real. To be more concrete, I stopped worrying about the latest fashion trends. I stopped worrying about my next job title. I stopped trying to impress people with the stuff I had. I started doing things that made me feel ALIVE. I started working on projects: DIY projects, art projects, design projects and I shared my work. I put it out there.
I got back into fishing. I got myself a kayak and a GoPro. Instead of coming home from the bar drunk at 3 am, I am waking up at 3 am – gearing up and heading down to the coast to catch the morning bite. My reality today involves finding new places to explore, new fishing techniques to learn, different fish species to add and knock off my bucket list, camping trips, road trips, making new friends and sharing these experiences with the world. I don’t stay up all night and edit videos to show you how cool I am, I make them to show you that life can be fun and exciting – if you simply choose to get off the couch and go live it.
Since I got into kayak fishing, I found myself surrounded by people similar to me – DOers, in particular. I found a knack for rigging and repurposing. I was accepted in flip flops and shorts. I was muddy and dirty and having the time of my life. I was attracting like-minded people into my circle. I live in a different world than I lived in just a little over 2 years ago.
I discovered a new media to explore and get creative with – videos. I found myself living all the things I loved to do. I had found myself happy. I felt alive.
It’s funny… people always say, when they’re coming back from a vacation or an adventure: “Well… back to reality.”
I get out in nature to get back in touch with what’s real, so I can deal with the fake reality that we have all come to accept and just live with.
Every trip inspires me to continue to work hard on my passions, to be able to be true to what I believe is real. I am creating and choosing the world I want to live in. I am creating my reality, building it – everyday.
Living in a shack in the woods is generally not something you brag about. It is not impressive. But I love it because it fits me and my lifestyle – I live here because it makes me happy and not for anyone else’s approval or blessing. I have more freedom than I ever have. I have the opportunity to create when inspiration strikes and go get inspired when the inspiration runs dry.
If people don’t get my current source of happiness – well, we just don’t live in the same world and that’s okay. And in all honesty, other people don’t have to get it.
The truth is, we do have to live in both worlds all the time, but each one of us can make the conscious decision to make our happiness a priority. But it requires defining what happiness means to you personally and then taking the action needed to be happy.
For some, following the plan works. For others it doesn’t. The point of this post and this story is to simply make you question the reason and the motivation behind doing the things that we do. You’ll be surprised by what you find out about yourself, that the things you have put so much importance and weight behind – is actually not really that important. That happiness is attainable and it is not as tied to status, image and money as we have come to believe. It starts with actively doing things that make you feel alive.
If you don’t like something about your life – change it. Align yourself with people with the same values, immerse yourself in the passions you love, live in the world you want to live in. #LIVELIVENOW