The day to leave home had finally come.
It was September 1985. I was twenty-three years old, and I’d just graduated from college. I’d spent that summer living at my parents’ home in Jacksonville, Illinois. I was planning to drive my motorcycle to faraway California, where I didn’t know a soul. My goal was to visit a school founded by a philosopher from India whom I considered to be one of the all-time great thinkers. I hadn’t traveled much in my life, so I was riding into the unknown.
It was a beautiful morning, crisp, not a cloud in the sky. Only my parents were there to say good-bye. A part of me wanted to stay home, safe and secure in the only world I’d ever known. It had been a good childhood, a long and happy childhood. But it was over.
So why didn’t I just settle down and start a career? Well, while I was in college and struggling to figure out how I could fit into the adult world, all I saw ahead was a soul-crushing, mediocre, premade life. And I was determined to try to keep in touch with the deep sense of meaning I’d felt my whole young life. I was determined to stay alive on the inside, whatever the cost.
I didn’t care what other people thought, I only cared about becoming the man I was born to be. And if that made my life tougher, or destroyed it entirely, well, too bad. It would be worth the risk. I never doubted that for a second.
I knew my immediate future would be brutally hard. I had little money, no close friends, no marketable job skills, no career goals, no mentor, no rich family to pay my bills, or blueprint to guide me. I was a fool setting off on a fool’s quest. It’s a good thing I was too young to care about that.
I felt totally alone. I didn’t identify with any group, generation, or social movement. I’d never identified with my country nor its political philosophies—nor any other country’s political philosophies, as far as that goes. My heroes had always been lone philosophers.
I started my motorcycle and waved good-bye to my parents. As I rode down the driveway, I knew I was doing the right thing, in my heart, anyway. But truth be told, my head was sending me an entirely different message: making a life for myself will be almost impossible.
P.O. Box 39
Rimforest, CA 92378