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May 14, 2012

Is travel deciding to be the “cooler” you?

Girl wearing sunglasses

Girl wearing sunglasses. Photo: Helga Weber / Flickr

When it comes to the vagabonding life, you’re quite literally going on the path not taken by most people.  As we get older, sometimes the itch to answer the question “what if?” becomes more urgent.

Although not strictly related to travel, this GQ magazine article got me thinking: Eric Puchner finds the cooler version of himself.

On the surface, it seems like an impossible mission. Puchner surveyed his friends with one question: “Do you know someone who could have been me, but cooler?”

An excerpt from the piece explains his motivation:

Lately, though, perhaps because at age 41 I’d begun feeling less like the captain of my life and more like its deckhand, I’d started wondering if there was someone out there who embodies not your worst self, but your freest one—a person who encapsulates everything you’ve ever dreamed of becoming. Let’s call him your Cooler Self. All those dreams that got lost along the way, the ones that were casualties of chance or duty or cowardice: There’s a “you” out there—a mountain climber or war photographer or race-car driver—who brought them to fruition.

The ironic thing is that a “happy ending” would have been sad.  He mentions having a bit of dread over the outcome of his search.  What if he found someone who was living an awesome life that he could have had?  If only he’d taken more risks, not given up sooner, the doubts would pile up on each other.

Getting back to vagabonding, it’s about making that choice to live the life you want much sooner.  This can avoid the fountain of regret that can erupt later on in a mid-life crisis.

Upon reading that article, I couldn’t help but think of the reverse question: what would you have been like if you hadn’t traveled?  The longer you live abroad, the more acutely you realize what you’ve given up.  Have you reflected on things like this?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Category: Lifestyle Design, Notes from the collective travel mind

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