I have a story. It comes with a valuable life lesson. I'd like to share it with you:
In December of 2017, I traveled to Israel. There, in a small square, in a little historical town called Katzrin, I met an American man. His name was Steven.
He was scraggly, with a bun of tousled hair and a beard. He was wearing Patagonia jacket and rain pants that looked like they could fall apart any second.
I first saw him sitting on a rock outside an Israeli candy shop. He greeted each passerby with a hearty 'Hullo!' Despite his rugged appearance, he had a friendly face.
'What's your story?' I'd asked him. 'What do you do?'
His answer was simple: 'I travel'.
He'd nodded, then told me tales of the places he’s been. He told of the bustling markets of India, the jungles of Vietnam, of Europe, of Israel.
'I go where I want to. I use the money I have on hand, I travel as long as I can, and when I run out, I go home and get a job. When I've saved up enough, I do it again.'
He laughed at my look of surprise.
‘Trust me, it’s not easy. You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Some nights, I’d sleep on the hard metal of a van. Some days, I'd eat in the filthiest hole-in-the-wall places around, but there were others eating there, so I did do it, too. Sometimes, I wouldn’t eat at all.”
‘Have you learned anything?’
'I've learned plenty! Especially from the people of India.' His face lit up.
'Those were the most generous people I've ever met. They were willing to give up anything they had to help me, a traveling stranger in need, even if they had next to nothing to give.'
He paused for moment, then continued.
'I've never seen anything like it, man. In my six months there, the Indians showed me that kindness, happiness, and family are more important than money or fame, or whatever else we Americans value.'
'Steven. If you could leave me with some of your wisdom, what would it be?'
He thought for a second.
'Always go for it. Just go for it, man. Whatever it might be, life is amazing, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Don't be stupid, but if you go out, go out on your terms. Go for it, always.'
I left Katzrin that day with this message I wouldn't soon forget, and one I plan to carry out for the rest of my life.
‘Go for it.’
I have that scraggly-bearded man who sat on a rock to thank, because now, when I'm on the fence and ready to back down, I won't. I'll go for it.
Life can be scary, but like Steven, I choose to live life on my terms, and I think everyone can choose to do the same, too.