Since January I have been mostly on the road; I have been travelling in Europe (this one is easy), I have been to South Africa and to Oman. Heck, looking back at my schedule, I have been to four continents since October! And at the end of each leg of my trips there was teaching.
When one is tired it is easy to decide that travelling is over-rated!
This is pretty much the point I had reached when, while hurriedly checking my e-mail in Arbanassi, an email from Adam Shepard landed in my inbox. The name sounded familiar and… yes, it was THE Adam Shepard – the one who wrote Scratch Beginnings (2007) where he tested the American Dream (and found it still works).
Adam wrote to tell me about his second book: One Year Lived. I agreed to have a look at the book, of course. But here is the thing:
- First, the only book about travelling that I have ever liked is ‘On the road’ by Kerouac (and this sets the standard really high); and
- Second, I wasn’t sure humanity needs another book about how a guy travelled around the world, had great time and the world adored him/her.
So, as expectations go (previous history aside) mine were…well, rather tricky.
Then I opened the book and started reading; and read, and read and then read some more – until I finished all of the 260 odd pages. OK, I did stop to sleep once but this was about it.
How did I get from ‘tricky’ to ‘sticky’ you may ask? Well, what did it is that this book has the two essential ingredients of an exceptional read: substance and form.
- It charts Adam’s experiences during one year of travelling the world (he visited ten locations in nine countries), true, but it is not so much about the journey – it is about life. This is not ‘tourism’ and everywhere he went, there was something to do. (Well, if you want to know what Adam did, you will have to read the book – I am not going to spoil it for you).
- The book has a powerful message: we can do things just because we ‘feel like it’. Adam starts by making clear that he didn’t feel angry, unhappy or in a need to make a political or moral statement about consumerism. He just thought that the world is an interesting place and there is so much he wants to live. And did it!
- This is a very honest and private book; but it is not self-indulgent and annoying. Even statements that may otherwise to be frowned upon come over as ‘part of the package’. Like when Adam tells us about having to work with some kids and owns up that he doesn’t love kids (mainly because he doesn’t particularly like them). He still had great time with those children!
- This is not a book about ‘Adam and the world’; this is a book about ‘the world and Adam’s place in it’. Here the message is: see the world for what it is and try to make it a better place. Do it by focusing on the things you can change however small they may seem. If only more people lived by like that, I say!
- As to the form, the books is beautifully written. The story will draw you in and the language will surround you in reality. You may even find yourself lusting after the full life of an exploring nomad. I did! And this hasn’t happened to me since Kerouac!
What did this book give me, you may ask?
Reading One Year Lived made me see through my tiredness and realise that I am just doing the wrong kind of travel. I also made me focus on living rather than existing.
Adam also tells us that ‘living’ his way is not as expensive as we may think (this is what stops many from ever trying something like that). Yes, going on the road for a year meant two years of saving but if one is careful and follows some simple rules, life is cheaper than in the States (or in the UK and most of Western Europe, I suppose). Adam’s rules are:
- Save in inexpensive countries and loosen up in expensive ones;
- A bit of research and ingenuity goes a long way (adding couple of legs to your flight can work out so much cheaper);
- Don’t buy souvenirs (find another way to keep your memories) and don’t over-do the alcohol.
- Go digital and borrow rather than buy/own (borrow Kindle books, for instance);
- Be prepared to take things as they come.
But the two key principles for making your money go further are: ‘be simple’ and ‘be creative’.
It all depends on whether you want to exist or live! Living means experiencing the world and learning and you can learn how Adam’s did it. He has kindly provided me with the link to the website for One Year Lived. The book is free till its official launch – just follow this link, enter the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org and the password 123456.