A couple of nights ago, I stood outside Dain's Place in Durham, NC with a lot of other people who had come out to meet Chris Guillebeau. A fellow follower of his blog stood beside me, asking Chris some specific questions about his unconventional travel. Since he's been to well over 100 countries and has a goal of visiting every country before his 35th birthday, I imagine he gets these questions a lot.
"Do you have any specific goals for each country you visit?" she asked. "No," he answered, "Not really. I like to take a walk, but..." She began again, rephrasing the question, perhaps thinking he hadn't quite understood her intention. "Well do you like to see something specific in each country? Like maybe the restaurants, or..." Chris continued to shake his head. "No." Then he smiled, lightening the tone a smidge, and referenced those travelers who take an item with them from country to country, having a photograph of themselves taken in each destination, with the item. "I don't do anything like that. I didn't think of it in time, though I don't know what I would have used if I had."
Just as happens when you strike out on any kind of unconventional journey, there are those who seem confused by Chris Guillebeau's desire to go to every country. "It's not efficient," he'd told us earlier at The Regulator Bookshop, a stop on his Unconventional Book Tour. "And it's certainly not economical," he continued, drawing laughs from the crowd. No indeed, since many of his stays in the far reaches of the world last for very short periods of time. Still, "It's meaningful to me," he told us.
Nobody has to give us permission to follow our own paths. Being alive gives us all the permission any of us need to live these lives authentically. Still, many of us wait for others who've done what we dream of to give us permission.
And so for those waiting for such a voice carrying the permission slip, here you are. The Art of Non-Conformity is the title of a blog and now a book too. Go read 'em. Not only are his topics interesting - inspiring even - Chris Guillebeau's writing is very readable. Which just makes it that much better!
1. I didn't take notes. My use of quotation marks indicate verbatim statements, so I felt compelled to tell you I'm paraphrasing. Maybe my recollections are verbatim, but possibly not. Still, the essence of what I've written here is how I heard it. I think it's close enough to accurately convey the evening's messages. You're invited to correct me in the comments if you were there and heard (or said!) anything differently! In fact, I'd love to hear from others who enjoyed Chris's meetup!
3. This brand new blog still hasn't been officially launched. But this event was so much "my thing" that I found myself telling people about Wayfarin' Vagabond that night. Nothing like sharing something to bring it to the top of your priority list!