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The Importance of Trying New Things

I just returned from a 2-week stint in Iceland.

Typically, I do not vacation for rest and relaxation. While I can appreciate the need for rest and relaxation and enjoy reading on the beach, I get bored staring at an ocean. As someone constantly on the lookout for inspiration, I will always prefer an adventure.

This time was no different. I did one of the best hikes of my life, climbed on a glacier, went whale watching, rode horses through lava fields, and completed a 4-day trek across the highlands.

I discovered long ago that I learn much more through travel than through anything else. However, I know of other people who learn and get nothing out of travel but social proof to put on display to the world. I see them as they crowd a site for the sole purpose of a picture and then walk away without appreciating the thing they came to ostensibly see.

The important factor here is one’s willingness to engage. It’s like anything else: the more you put in, the more you get out. Discoveries are limited from a hotel balcony. If it weren’t for my love of travel and willingness to put myself in new and uncomfortable situations, I would never have discovered the inspiration for Specks of Dust. In fact, I can say with confidence that my next book will also rely on the travels I’ve done.

I never know what may inspire me, but by trying new things and challenging myself to adapt, I discover things about the world, about human nature, and about myself. If it’s a bad experience, I tell myself that those tend to make the most interesting stories. I’ve found it to be a fulfilling rule to live by.

On the 4-day trek, I had the opportunity to travel with an incredibly diverse crowd, ranging from 23 to 56, from Japan to Australia to Belgium to South Africa to Italy to Texas. One of the people I met was a fascinating man who had lost his leg just last year to frostbite while climbing Everest (one of the few things I do not wish to try). This was his first hiking trip since then. Talking with him, discovering how it’s changed him into a more empathetic person, hearing how he rebuilt himself from the shards of his shattered personality into one of the best embodiments of perseverance I’ve ever seen, gave me much more to reflect on than anything during the last six months of my job as a software developer. And I truly enjoy my job!

One more thing: while I was doing the trek, another hiker asked me how I managed to have so much general knowledge. I was caught off guard by the flattering question, but the only satisfactory answer I can give is that I have a wide array of interests, I try to listen, and I put myself in situations where I can learn something.

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