When it all made sense is sort of a goofy title for this blog post because in many ways I don’t know if my life has made any sense to me. Every day of my public school and high school life I was bullied. I did not know how to be around kids my age. No friend ever stuck around for long. My only supporter was my mom. It’s hard to make sense of your world when going to school would give you knots in your stomach every day.
Perhaps one of my biggest successes in life was turning a childhood and high school hobby of keeping reptiles and amphibians in captivity into a successful business. I was self-employed from 1995 until 2002. I started in wholesale and then opened a reptile store and birthday party room in 1999. At one time I had 13 part time and full time employees. The strange part was that if I talked to people at the time about the business, I always found myself saying, “Yeah but I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up”. I said that enough times that I realized that if running these businesses is not what I want to do when I grow up then I had better get out now before I become married to it.
And I guess that when my life became this journey that has never made sense to me since. In my immaturity, I naturally assumed success followed successful people. Boy was I wrong. I had no plan, I just assumed that my next great adventure would fall into my lap. I headed to Belize but was forced back to Canada for some personal issues. I bounced around a bit. I went back to and bought a house in Belize in 2003. In 2004 I did a road trip up to Alaska. I fell in love with Western and Northern Canada. But after returning home from that trip, I realized I needed to get something going. Seeing no other option, I attempted to get back into my old business of reptiles (years 2004 to 2010). I figured at least I knew “that”. It turned out to be a huge mistake and cost me my savings. If there was one gift from the decision to return to that industry it was that without employees, I was forced to do my educational reptile shows in front of large crowds by myself. My first time around with my reptile store in 1999 to 2002 I never did any of the reptile shows. Doing the shows myself caused me to get (reasonably) comfortable talking in front of crowds of people. Because I learned to get comfortable presenting in front of people, I was able to fall back on that experience during all my media interviews during my recent bike ride.
This re-entry into the reptile career path also caused me to cross paths with a girl I would get into my first real relationship with. And from the first moment, I knew I should never have gotten involved with her. That 2 ½ year relationship would cost me many years of heartache. There was a 10 year old boy involved (her kid, not mine). He would become the collateral damage in the break up of this relationship and it wrecked me inside as if I had killed my own son. For the purposes of this post, its too long a story about this boy to get into here. I talk about it in more detail in chapter 1 of the book that I am currently writing. For this blog post, I loved him like he was my own and I was in Belize when I got an email that the relationship was over. I ended up spending 11 months in Belize as a result of the breakup in 2010 (Jan to Nov). Also, too long of a story for the purposes of this post this boy would be a part of certain parts of my life for about 10 more years.
For reasons only understandable with the complete story, for 14 months the guilt for this boy being the collateral damage of the breakup destroyed me on a level I could never properly articulate in this post. Upon my brief reuniting with him 14 months after the breakup (June 2011) my mental state required me to hit the road, and escape reality. Traditional living and employment were not an option. And this would lead me on my first bike tour that would have me bike 6,500 km through northern and western Canada for 14 weeks. At that time, the dream of my most recent bike ride (2019 – 2021) would be born. After this first bike ride, I would spend 6 months in Vancouver working general labor construction. During that time, a chance email asking for visitation of the boy if I moved back to Hamilton was granted. In June 2012 I moved from Vancouver to Hamilton just to spend time with him and make up for lost time. For almost a year I would get him 3 weekends every month. And it was awesome! Unfortunately, my “career” was in the crapper, literally. I was a janitor in an auto parts factory. After about a year of visitation, the boy lost much of the interest in hanging with me (as a teenager) and ended up living with his deadbeat, completely uninvolved father (who hated me for being involved). With no more visitation and my career in the crapper in January 2013, I enrolled in truck driving school. I was so broke my parents paid for half the tuition. I was at rock bottom and $5 grand and 5 weeks of training could change my life. And it did. The best, hardest, most rewarding job of my life. But this was never a long-term career move for me. It was never a life dream; my dream was my bike ride. This was my means to getting there. But keep in mind the whole time in the past 12 years I am still trying to make sense and find some purpose in my life.
Two significant personal events would happen during my truck driving career. That kid would graduate high school and actually move in with me for about 4 months until he got us evicted (long story there) and I would meet the love of my life who would become my fiancé. All the time trying to figure out my place in this world. The thing was that during my relationship with my fiancé, I could actually connect all the dots of my past and see how all the life decisions that got me to my current place and set me up for meeting this woman and how any other path would never have put me within a million miles of her. Call me completely delusional but everything made complete sense for the first time in my life and I felt redeemed for my past mistakes and regrets.
And then the engagement all imploded and this amazing 2 year bike ride across Canada, through the USA, and Mexico to Belize started. And the ride was epic and it took on this crazy social aspect that I could never have imagined. As suddenly as the bike ride started in 2019 the bike ride ended in Belize in 2021. My investments and commitments to the long term goal to live in Belize would make it impossible to continue any further south. Upon reflection of my bike ride, I actually couldn’t make much sense of that part of my life either. Why so much generosity? Why me? But I realized that who I was as a person after going through what any other person would consider a life-transforming experience barely changed me as a person. In fact, as a result of a few experiences during my bike ride and experiences, since I arrived in Belize, I trust people far less than ever in my life and do my best to avoid interacting with people at all if I can help it. I wrote about my bike ride reflections in a bit more detail HERE.
In fact, at the time of writing this, I have been in Belize for 13 months. This last year has been one of the toughest years of my life. Almost everything has gone wrong. People have ripped me off at every turn. Almost nothing has worked out. I am certain that I am living a pipe dream. You can read about my first year in Belize HERE. Living in Belize has always been my plan and goal. But now… I look at my hammock (I currently sleep in a hammock, not a bed) and I think only 30 more years and that is where I die alone. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my day-to-day experiences but at the end of the day when the night comes. I wonder why and what’s the point? What is my purpose for me here? To struggle for the next 30 years for what? I had dreams and goals, but they seem impossible to reach. Barest survival, most likely failure over the next 30 years is all I can see. I am no closer to knowing or understanding my purpose and life than when I left my business 20 years ago in 2002.
Now, of course, I realize that my situation is attitude-related. The inability to see the forest for the trees. Perhaps a lack of gratitude? (Do you realize what the people in Ukraine are going through right now?) But when it’s our own lives there is often a fog that makes clarity impossible. You tell me your problems and I will solve your life problems in less than 5 minutes. Most people have a partner, a best friend, or some kind of support network. I have nothing. I repeat I have nothing like that. And for most of my life, I never have. At least since I left my business 20 years ago. Everything I do and everything I decide is on me. I have no one who goes through what I go through. No one who understands what I go through. I have no support or input to see things in my life clearly. I live a lifestyle that is impossible to live as a single person and I have every expectation of dying alone. [I am alone but not lonely.]
I was recently told I have given up too easily not meeting someone in my life. I simply point out that when I was 40, I started driving an 80,000 lbs vehicle working 90 hours a week. You needed 5 years of driving experience to hand in an application at my workplace. I had 5 weeks of truck training school experience. (I got the job through a family relationship.) All my co-workers had 20+ years of experience. Within only a few short years I was a top 5 paid employee. We did a job that 95% of the world couldn’t do and our job was so specialized that 90% of other truck drivers couldn’t do what we did. I would remind you that I biked 4,900 km through a Canadian winter part of 2 year, 26,000 km bike ride that also had me bike over 1,000 km in 115F daily temperatures for over a month down the Mexican Baja where I thought I would die every day. I currently live alone and isolated in the jungles of Belize. The one thing the last 20 years have given me is a mental strength that will happily compete with anyone to see how easily I actually give up.
People say she wasn’t the one. Get over her. If she wasn’t the one then I definitely have no clarity on the last 20 years. And I can’t bring myself to accept that. I actually sincerely wish I had never met her and she wasn’t part of my story. I write more about the experience and why I think what I think HERE. I can get over her, but unfortunately, something inside me broke that day and a simple visit to the hospital does not just fix that. The mental and emotional trauma women have caused my heart in my lifetime is mind-blowing. At a certain point in life, wisdom dictates that you should accept certain things as they are. But making sense of my life and my past has nothing to do with being with someone.
I don’t think that wanting to understand your purpose and direction in life is such an unreasonable question or thought about one’s life. And I think as the years roll past that unanswered question gets a little bit louder.