26 States And 40 Days On The Road Later, Here Are 15 Things I Figured Out About Life

I don’t remember the moment I decided I would drive from coast to coast. When I look back, I simply knew I was leaving, no matter what. I told my friends, my family, my clients and myself that the month of August was mine.

I’ve always had the travel bug. Before I left for the road trip, I’d been to more countries around the globe than states in the USA. A few years back, on a trip through Southeast Asia, I met a wonderful Australian woman who was enamored with the United States, in a way that I couldn’t understand.

She said, “You’re so lucky. You basically live in a place that has 48 countries within driving distance, that you can go in and out of at your leisure.” I never thought about it like that.

Three years later, that same Australian and I finished a 40-day trek around the United States. On the journey, we were taken in by old friends, taken out by complete strangers, taken care of by friends of friends of friends and everyone in-between.

With the passing of each mile, a few things became more and more apparent:

An open mind is the best accessory.

Any preconceived notion you have about any place in the world can be undone in an instant, with an open mind. You don’t know anything about anything until you’re there, standing in it, breathing it in and diving headfirst.

You can play a song 1,000 times but never really hear it until 1,001.

It’s always worth that extra listen.

America is not New York.

As a New Yorker, I am a born cynic. I’m always looking for the hidden meaning, the catch or the agenda. America isn’t New York. Most places live with a kind of openness New York couldn’t dream about.

I’m in love with my incredible city; however, the hospitality of the South, the relaxation of the West and the majestic sites of the North cannot be found in the magical madness of New York City.

There will always be boys and girls in bars who want to kiss you (and do other things).

Kissing a stranger says nothing about you. Having sex with a stranger says nothing about you. Do with that what you will and make no apologies.

When you’re in a bind, look for the funny story.

There’s almost nothing that a good night’s sleep or a solid laugh can’t fix. When you’re in a real jam, remind yourself that in a day or two, or 30, it will be funny. Keep on keeping on.

Sometimes a picture just won’t cut it...

…especially if you’re standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Time is your friend, when you let it be.

Be present in everything you do. There were days where I felt like I didn’t have enough time. If I just had one more day or a few more hours, it would be enough. Or would it? The truth is the amount of time you have is the perfect amount of time. The number of hours you have in a day are enough; embrace it.

Facebook is a blessing and a curse.

Without Facebook, I couldn’t keep in touch with my new friends or connect with old ones, but sometimes, Facebook elongates a relationship that should have simply lasted days.

People are suffering everywhere.

Help when you can. Be empathetic and grateful for what you have every day.

You can fall in love with anything.

A person, a place, a smell or a moment. It can happen slowly over time or in an instant -- you'll know when it is real love.

Think more than you speak.

Speak with intentions, not for the sake of saying words. When you put thought behind what you say, you connect in a way you couldn’t have imagined.

Kindness spans all languages, all money, all time -- everything.

Being kind is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. It will ultimately bring you the most joy.

A true friend isn’t always the person you’ve known the longest.

Sometimes, a true friend is the stranger who hugs you when it's obvious you’ve had a long trip, or the person who buys you an ice-cream sandwich because that’s what he or she can afford. A true friend soothes your sorrows and ignites your happiness, no strings attached.

Some coincidences are too big to simply be happenstance.

Call it destiny, fate or whatever you want, but the universe gives you exactly what you need, when you need it. If you feel like it isn’t giving you what you need, reevaluate things. Sometimes, it just takes a little outside-the-box thinking.

It has to get dark before it can get light.

Your deepest moments of desperation are often quickly followed by your greatest moments of inspiration, when you let them be. Keep searching for the light when you’re head deep in darkness. It’s always there. Safe travels.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr