Sterling Hayden – Wanderer

Sterling Hayden - Wanderer
I picked up a copy of Sterling Hayden’s Wanderer in a used book shop years ago. It was the title that grabbed me… and I wasn’t disappointed with this autobiography.  I had never heard of him at the time of my first reading though I had seen a few of his movies. Recently I was talking about sailing and Hollywood with a friend and I was reminded of this book… This passage is a great summation of his philosophy and one that I find inspirational…

…enter Mr. Hayden

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind of known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon, the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

-Sterling Hayden, Wanderer



More information on Sterling Hayden

  • Wikipedia entry – Sterling Hayden
  • Nice blog post on Sterling Hayden by Christian Allaire with some nice pics
  • I’ve always liked talk shows that are simple, one-on-one interviews… like Charlie Rose and Tom Snyder. Here is a series of interviews Tom Snyder did with Sterling Hayden on The Tomorrow Show
    • Interview 1 (audio only)
      • Part 1

      • Part 2

      • Part 3

      • Part 4

      • Part 5

      • Part 6


    • Interview 2
      • Part 1

      • Part 2

      • Part 3

      • Part 4

    • Interview 3
      • Part 1

      • Part 2

      • Part 3


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Go get this issue of Outside Magazine

Outside Magazine cover October 2013

“OVER TIME, IT’S EASY to put yourself inside an invisible prison. The bars are made of money, expectations, obligations, and habit. If you’re not careful, years on you’ll have unwittingly convinced yourself that you absolutely must get up and go to work. That’s a sucker’s life. And while you can’t run away from obligations forever, you can certainly take a break, whatever your age. They’ll all still be there tomorrow, or next week, or next month.” 

– Mark Jenkins, in GET UP AND GO, Outside Magazine, Issue October 2013… pg. 82

Go and get this issue. It’s full of inspirational stories, books and ideas segmented by age group.


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Would it kill you Air Canada to kick in a sandwich and a beer on a 5 hour flight?

Air CanadaWe made it to Seattle… yeah!

Coming back to the US has been our worst travel experience to date.  But…. it still sure beats going to work.

Lessons learned flying from Lima, Peru to Seattle, WA via Toronto.

1. When entering Peru, check your tourist visa’s days. On entry we were told we had 90 days, but it was really 30 and scribbled illegibly in our passports. Fine assessed for visa overstay on leaving, $275 payable only in US $ and in cash. Total scam.

2. Flying to the US through Toronto, you now go through US Customs and Immigration in Toronto – before your flight into the US. This means lots of added time, you won’t make a tight connection… took us 2 hours to go from deplaning, though customs and immigration, back through security, and finally to the gate for the flight to Seattle…we had to hustle to make it just at the scheduled boarding time – so much for dinner.  It ended up being a couple hours or so delayed, but with no announced departure time, we couldn’t leave the gate to go back to the restaurants.

3. Flying to the US through a connecting flight, you have to go through security again (not new), but they don’t allow duty-free liquor through that secondary security check. So don’t buy duty-free liquor coming to the US if you have a connection. The US is the only country to have this policy, per the security guy in Toronto. They do allow an option to check it in baggage, but you’ll have to put in in your carry-on, check it and hope it doesn’t break – our bottle of Pisco from Peru didn’t break – small miracles.

4. Embraer 190 is the plane that Air Canada flies between Toronto and SEA, has only 1 bathroom for 86 people in cattle class on a 5 hour flight… and it’s in the galley. Neither passengers nor flight attendants like this arrangement.

5. Air Canada considers Canada part of USA. They call it a “trans-border” flight, not an international flight, which means no free food, wine, nor beer.

I think we may have gotten a bit spoiled travelling outside of US, with kids – or perhaps it was The Mayor’s, our youngest son’s, big smile and wave (which is how he got his nickname in the first-place). We were always escorted to the priority lines for immigration, security, and boarding – no matter the airline, no matter the country.  Extremely helpful flight attendants, and always a free beer or wine during the flight…

Like I said, even after a tough day… traveling sure beats sitting in an office, but I still don’t see why North American airliners can’t be a little more customer service oriented…

More Reading

Photo Credit

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Dreaming on Paper – My Goals List

To Do List  - Live betterI previously wrote about making lists here

To be clear, if you have the opportunity and possibility of getting on the plane tomorrow, or next week, or do whatever it is you’ve been dreaming about, by all means do so… don’t waste your time making lists.

For me though, I didn’t.  I never thought I’d have the money to do something like this or could afford to quit my job. I didn’t think I could ever get my family interested in quitting work, school, leaving friends etc… Logistically, a trip like this sounded impossible – 3 kids, house, cars, etc… meant we weren’t going to just jump on a plane the next week.

Lists helped me translate my dream to reality. That’s it… it wasn’t long after I started making lists that I realized “Hey this is actually possible, we can do this” – that’s the beauty and benefit of lists… after that, the lists became less a dream and more an action plan.

So here it is, my goals/aspirations list,  the foundation for why we are on this trip. Even before the first inkling of the trip, I had a list like this, but outside of the first couple weeks of January, I just wasn’t particularly good at progressing in these areas, a big source of frustration and stress in my life. Once The Trip became a conscious thought in my brain, I realized that it could serve as a soft reset to my life… clear out all the stuff that wasn’t working right, the blockers, and be free to actively pursue the good stuff.

The list:

Break out of our stuff-filled lifestyle to have an experience-filled, relationship-based lifestyle

  • Live inexpensively with minimal stuff (I have yet to completely crack this one, but traveling without income helps with its obvious constraints)
  • Improve our quality of life through incredible experiences
  • Spend more time….. on food, eating healthier, eating slower
  • Expand our world view and inspire our children to develop their own
  • Be completely open to new opportunities of lifestyle, work, income
  • Model the values we want to instill in our children
    • Serve others
    • Empathy for others
    • Lifelong learning
    • Love of travel
    • Broad worldview
  • Spend more time with family…this more important than work – but tradeoffs will happen
  • Exercise, work out, or otherwise be active – everyday and as much as possible
  • Doing meaningful work is more important than only working for money, again tradeoffs will happen, but we need to find a healthy balance
  • Having money means more freedom to pursue meaningful activities
  • Find income/business so I can fully embrace these goals… build a business, find a job, or just look and/or be open to new opportunities
  • Take more time to explore creativity, mine and others’: the arts, websites, TED talks, conferences (heading to the World Domination Summit next month) Pinterest, tumbler… multi-media… a good ol’ fashion mind expansion

You can see, it’s not particularly linear, they aren’t all goals, or even action items… they are more aspirations then anything else; like a vision statement… There are obvious places of contradiction and sources of conflict, specifically between the 7th and 8th. There’s no real order…. But they are there, written down in black and white glory. I can change them or I can delete them, but I can’t hide from them…. I can’t hide that at the very least I felt this way when I wrote them down.  Most importantly, I can use it as a yardstick against what I am doing now… I can review all my activity on any given day and see how much of it is spent in pursuit of one or more of these.

And now, we are living in Lima, Peru in a relatively small flat – relative to the house we used to live in… I am learning to surf, we are all learning Spanish, we homeschool… We are active every single day, with long walks – for fun and for running errands, playing in the parks,  and exploring and searching for cheap and cheerful restaurants…. We still buy stuff, but each thing we buy that we want to keep necessitates an equal getting rid of something, suitcases can only hold so much.

The first 3 months of our trip we worked for a non-profit in Guinea (more on that later), the second 3 months in Europe, now here in Peru, and next week we fly back to the USA to start the last leg of The Trip – driving around the USA. I’m doing lots of research on RV’s, travel trailers, conversion vans, hammocks, camping, etc… etc…

…. I’d say we’re doing pretty well.

For further reading – you can publish your goals publically. Though I didn’t do this, sharing your lists, especially your goals or specific tasks to achieve, can help you keep on track. I find sharing with friends and family better than to the world on the Internet, but I do love this idea… and I like reading other peoples’ goals.

How to choose achievable goals – short article on written by Buster McLeod – a founder of 43Things. Don’t skip the comments, there’s good info there too.

This Magic Journey – Blog post by Chris Guillebeau for some inspiration. This post is about achieving (or just about to achieve) his goal of traveling to every country in the world. “Was it all about the destination? Was it all about checking things off a list? Of course not. It was all about the journey, always.” – Chris Guillebeau

The Power of Less: Changing Behavior with Leo Babauta – I am a huge fan of Leo Babauta and his blogs Zen Habits and This blog post however is on Tim Ferriss’ blog the 4hour workweek… yes, total man crush.

One final note:

In making your lists, make sure you know the difference between a project and a task. In other words, make sure your daily to do list is a list tasks not long-term projects. Those tasks should be the individual items necessary to drive a project toward completion. I first learned of this concept in a talk given by David Allen – Getting Things Done, but I can’t find any good links directly to his sites explaining the concept (guess you’ll have to buy the book). Here are a couple of links that do:



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To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Carpe Diem

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by John Herrick, written in 1648… and this blog’s namesake:

Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a flying:
And this same flower that smiles to day,
To morrow will be dying.
The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun,             5
The higher he’s a getting;
The sooner will his Race be run,
And neerer he’s to Setting.
That Age is best, which is the first,
When Youth and Blood are warmer;                  10
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Then be not coy, but use your time;
And while ye may, goe marry:
For having lost but once your prime,              15
You may for ever tarry.


More information about this amazing poem:


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Achieving your dream – Where to Start

Big list of listsSo how did I begin? How did I go from full time gainful employment to getting on a plane with Warrior Princess and three kids for a year-long trip? What were the steps from ‘maybe one day’ to ‘I can do this’ to ‘I’m making it happen’ to ‘We’re on our way’?

If you have build castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.  – Henry David Thoreau

I started by making lists. It was a simple way to start emptying my mind of this dream, and start building the foundations. I put down all my random thoughts, ideas and details… I put down places, estimated costs, things I wanted to see. I wrote about things I wanted to learn… things I never have had time to do while working, things I wanted to show my kids, etc… etc… All this detail eventually gave shape to a general framework of The Trip which then morphed into a plan.

Making lists was also an easy way to do at least one thing every day, one thing toward my goal… doing that one thing – revising, editing, reviewing the lists helped keep me motivated and hopeful.

Making lists was a great way to escape from a rough day, a stressful day, from the noise and craziness. It was daydreaming, it was meditating, it was pure escape, but it was time well spent, moving towards an end goal. It was my Calgon and I still do this.

Make a List- Dream on Paper

Start with what’s important to you. What’s your dream? What is the big thing you want to do? Start by writing it down. Don’t worry if it sounds silly or dumb. Just start writing… then read your list, add to it, change it. Over time you’ll settle on something… something part reality, something part inspirational. It will represent both the kind of person you are and the kind of person you want to be…. Just keep going… Share your lists, your ideas, your dreams, with friends, with family. Eventually add in action items, schedules, and more detail. Start balancing your time… away from the list making and revising to knocking off those action items. Just keep going. Look at your lists every day.

Tip: Make sure one of your lists is a ‘Next Steps’ list. This list should have the very next thing you need to do. Usually you would add to this list at the end of your working session, so when you sit down in front of the computer (or open your paper notebook) the next time, you don’t have to think about what you need to do; it’s much easier to get started again and makes you less likely to procrastinate or get distracted.  Just open up your ‘Next Steps’ list and get busy.

A few of my lists:

  • Where do I want to go – continents, countries cities, interesting things
  • What do I want skills and experience do I want to learn and have (surfing, new language, photography, etc..)
  • What are the goals of this trip I am dreaming about – why are we doing this….
  • What needs to happen to be able to get on that plane (these are the to do or action lists)
    • Next steps
    • Finance/budget
    • Processes and systems (snail mail, communication, technology – backups and storage)
    • Sort out what to do with our house, cars, and all of our stuff
  • Kids’ school

Start doing this today. What ever your dream is, whatever your big goal, don’t wait until you put your finances in order, don’t wait until you are sure you can pull if off, don’t wait to find that perfect app or that perfect organizational system… start right NOW! Create your lists!

For Further Reading

Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists – NPR – #1 is Bring order to chaos and #8 is Relieving Stress and Focusing the Mind…. These are the two primary ways my lists helped me, they kept me on the path….

40 Great Resources for Making Lists – Mashable –  I kept all mine in Microsoft OneNote and I always had a small notebook that I carried with me which I then transferred to OneNote later.

Getting Things Done – I’m a fan of GTD… I heard David Allen speak once. His books are good.  Making lists, is a great way to clear your mind. Remember though,  with this productivity/time management system or any other, organizing your to do list is good, but it is infinitely better to REDUCE and SIMPLIFY.

The Power of the List: Essential Lists for Productivity – Great post to really geek out on lists.

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Throw Off the Bowlines

Sailing Away

“Twenty Years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade wins in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” H. Jackson Brown’s mother

Photo Credit

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RED: Heywood, enough. Ain’t nothing wrong with Brooksie. He’s just institutionalized, that’s all.

HEYWOOD: Institutionalized, my ass.

RED: Man’s been here fifty years. This place is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man, an educated man. A librarian. Out there, he’s nothing but a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands. Couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?

FLOYD: Red, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass.

RED: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. After long enough, you get so you depend on ’em. That’s “institutionalized.”

JIGGER: Shit. I could never get that way.

ERNIE: Say that when you been inside as long as Brooks has.

RED: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that’s just what they take. Part that counts, anyway.


From the great movie The Shawshank Redemption


I saw myself becoming that way. I saw my kids growing up in that institution, it was time to take a radical step…. That step was to quit our jobs, sell  our house, sell most of our stuff, and go nomad.

June again, crap, the time where we had to write down what we think we can get accomplished the next year, which led to career discussions and answering the question “where do you see your career going here”.  Every year I think the same thing… though I don’t always admit to it….. What I really thought was…. I don’t really care, I just want to do interesting stuff that has some meaning, some impact…

One of the hardest questions for me to answer was . ‘What do I want?  What is meaningful? What has impact?’…  It was hard because my frame of reference was too narrow. The view was toward career advancement and financial success, the ego, the house, the cars, the stuff. Blindly following along because it’s what we all do… right?  But as much as I like money, a big house and stuff to put in it, it weighs on me.  And as much as I like the recognition,  the ego boost, the status that comes with working for a Fortune 100 company, it’s not intrinsically what I want.  I want what I have always wanted, to do interesting and meaningful things and have enough money to have some choice, some options for our lives. To live my values. To be the example of the lessons I am trying to teach my kids. I don’t necessarily want to do what it would take be an executive in a large company – and yes it has taken me years to get the courage to admit this out loud.

I am not ungrateful. I fully appreciate all that I have: family, friends, faith. I fully appreciate all that I had: an income that paid the bills plus a little extra, a job I didn’t hate and actually enjoyed, the company which really did provide a lot of opportunity. On this planet, in this economy that’s more than most…. But at the risk of sounding incredibly selfish and ungrateful. I have gotten close enough to the wizard, I have discovered that having some money, having security, having a big house with lots of stuff is not all that it’s cracked up to be.


The Solution: Change the frame of reference. I needed to Stand on the Desk .

So… Warrior Princess and I quit our jobs, sold most of our stuff  and went nomad. This will be the ultimate forcing function to prioritize time with family over money, experiences over stuff, fun over the rat race.

This blog will be the exploration of those principles, the process, the metrics,  and the particulars of my experience. Hopefully there are others out there that will find it helpful.

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