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Tom Travels 2010 Finale- Summary and Thank You’s

November 29, 2010

Lisbon, Portugal 2008

Lisbon, Portugal, October 24 2008. Although this isn’t the date I came up with letUbeU, it is the date my life took an unexpected turn. On this day, I presumed I had only sprained my ankle. I recall playing tourist and walking miles upon miles of uneven brick road and walkways through Lisbon’s hilly landscape. You can imagine the amount of strain being placed on the ankle and toe joints as I battled gravity, uphill-downhill repetitively. My right ankle was the first victim of the arthritis, an initiation into a new life that would see me resign from my job, find a new mission in life, and work on a cure for a disease receiving little funding and therefore few (I will argue zero) treatment options.

I've become all too familiar with this scale

After reading research papers and talking with my PhD friends, I’ve tried/am trying acupuncture, flax seed, tart cherry juice, moxa, bike riding…the list goes on. Do they help? Maybe, but not enough, I still feel pain with every step. The one drug I’ve found to help most is LIFE (no, not the cereal). Living everyday like its my last and enjoying the subtle, and obvious, pleasures I used to take for granted. They provide me with a sanctuary from the pain in my joints.

Moonrise in Utah midday

Exploring this planet is a dream I’ve always had and now I have reason and motivation to make this dream a reality. Almost 2 years & 13 painful joints after Lisbon (and several reruns of Planet Earth) my travels began with a tour of southwest America visiting friends and family I haven’t seen in years, viewing many sunsets and moonrises, and following my philosophy, letUbeU.

Ground Zero

While packing for this adventure, I’ll admit, I was nervous. A novice at traveling, I was unsure how to prepare for a 3 week journey that would take me through 12 states (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma). It turns out, I prepped well with the perfect amount of clothing, the right sized cooler, a kit for collecting rocks in each state, Johnnie Walker Black, and all the necessary amenities I needed to live like a traveling salesman for 18 days.

The bridge opened the week before I arrived

I passed through mountain chains and deserts, was one of the first people to cross the Hoover Dam Bridge, and reached an altitude of 10,000 feet. I ate pizza in 4 states and birthed a love for Tex-Mex. West Texas treated me to the smell of manure but also a view of the Milky Way. I slept on 11 beds/couches, lost 2 pairs of shoes, drove 5,758 miles, and spent over 120 hours in a car. Normally while driving, my time is spent on the phone catching up with friends, but this journey was a hiatus from my normal life. Instead of sending radio signals via a satellite to other parts of the globe, I was sending electrical signals within my brain.

How long have these mountains been around?

I thought about the eons it took for the mountains I was staring at to develop and how insignificant my lifespan is in comparison. I kept thinking about what it means to let you be you; how can I inspire people? I thought about the friends and family in my life who matter and which of those are just part of a routine I follow. I thought about my future; where will I be in 3 months, 12 months, 10 years. I thought about time, how fast it moves. One day you’re 18, smoking your first cigarette and enjoying the freedom of your teens, the next day your 29 staring 30 in the face at the tail end of a midlife crisis. I thought about “if I knew what I know now,” what would I have changed when I was 16, 21, or 25, or yesterday. With a voice recorder and pen & paper I was able to organize thoughts that had been aimlessly passing through neurons in my brain, like an asteroid in the void of space spinning to its unknown destination.

Cross 'shoot rifle' off my Bucket List

These thoughts and experiences would not have been possible without the friends in my life. I am truly grateful for the hospitality I received. There was a void in my life that doesn’t exist now because of you. We attacked my bucket list from all angles: driving through the Rocky Mountains, eating exotic foods (rattlesnake), walking onto the set of a TV show, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, tailgating the World Series, visiting the Red Lion Tavern, firing a gun and the list goes on. Thank You to everyone who had a part in making this trip possible. Thank you so much for letting me into your homes: S.J., W.S., A.P., V.R., I.Z, M.Z., S.A., K.B. Thank you to those who treated me to a meal or a beer: S.P., B.A., M.S., Mr and Mrs P. Thank you for helping me set up a focus group of scientists: A.A. Thank you for convincing me to skip Wyoming and head straight through the Rocky Mountains: J.P., and for convincing me to skip Salt Lake City and head for Las Vegas in the middle of the night: A.R. Thank you for meeting me in L.A. to be my companion for the longest drives of the trip: R.S. Thank you for failing to do your job of inspecting my car properly: Nissan Dealership of Naperville. Thank you Garmin, when I was lost you helped me find my way. Most importantly, thank you arthritis, I would have been working if it weren’t for you. Also, thank you readers. Every day I logged into my website I could see how many people were following, its inspiring! I hope I can continue to entertain and inspire you as well.

The Final Mile

This adventure is over, but there are many more to come. My blog will move on to include my life experiences as they relate to Molecular Biology and Social Psychology (my trade and my hobby), my battle with arthritis, and my journey as an entrepreneur, market researcher, and scientist working to efficiencize the Life Science Research Industry. My next blog will explain letUbeu, but for now, thank you for following and here is a sneak peak of what is to come:

From 230,000 miles away Earth looks peaceful, but is it?

LETUBEU encourages individuals to express themselves, despite the influences of their environment (family, society, work, etc.). It represents the idea that our DNA designs our physical being AND our psyche (PB&P), PB&P will design the relationships we have, and relationships (on a macro-scale) design the society we live in. Therefore in order to maximize benevolence and efficiency in our society, we need to develop positive relationships. To build positive relationships, we need to develop a positive physical being and psyche. You do this by listening to your DNA, going with your instinct, and let U be U!

Be yourself or be no one

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