Creating Your Own Reality – A Study in Being Homeless
You know those innocuous questions you get when you meet someone for the first time, like “What do you do for a living?”
When I meet someone who doesn’t know what I do, I tell them I work with emerging companies to help them increase sales of their virtual reality products. I also work with enterprises on how to deploy VR technology in their business. That’s a simple question to answer.
As a constant traveler, I’m always meeting new people. This year alone, I’ve met people in Moscow, France, Amsterdam, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Dubai, Portugal, Belgium, and more. Over the last four years, I have traveled one million miles, which is around the earth 40 times, or to the moon and back, twice. Those that I meet are always curious as to where I call home.
When I don’t want to get into it, I just say “Southern California,” as that’s where I most recently lived. But the truth is more complicated.
A few years ago, after separating from my wife of 25-years and moving out of our house, I went looking for a new place to live. I searched in San Clemente, California, which I had called “home” for the prior 17-years, the longest stint in one place I had ever spent. It has perfect weather, great surfing, and while possessing that small-town feel, is within an easy drive of almost any amenity you can imagine. Drive an hour in either direction, and you are in either downtown Los Angeles or San Diego. When I think of the perfect place to live, San Clemente ticks all the boxes.
Except it’s expensive as hell. All the beach cities in Southern California are. When I looked for an apartment of my own, I realized that I’d be paying an awful lot of money every month for a place that would be uninhabited most of the time. I was traveling 20-days a month, leaving my car to depreciate in an airport parking lot, paying $25 a day for the privilege. Spending $2K on a small place, just to keep my “stuff”, seemed silly.
I quickly analyzed my belongings and what I cared about. The most significant item on the list was my Vitamix.
When I did the math, I wondered to myself, “what would it look like if I didn’t actually have a home?” I could buy a lot of smoothies with what I would be saving in rent.
Crazy right? Having a “home” is a base need, according to Abraham Maslow. Shelter and security are at the bottom tier of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs. How can you feel safe and secure without a sense of place?
One of my traits is I tend to dive into things without thinking them all the way through. I imagine what’s possible, and before fear and pragmatism kick in, I take the leap to see what happens. This recklessness has led to many of my greatest accomplishments.
So I collected my belongings and drove them down to the Salvation Army, donating almost everything. I kept some art from my friend Josh Paskowitz, asking friends to display them for me in their homes or workplaces. And I kept my VW Bus, with the camping and surf gear inside.
Anything else that didn’t fit in a backpack and carry-on suitcase went to the Salvos (as they call it in Australia.)
Now, when I tell people I don’t have a home, that I gave away my stuff and live on the road, they invariably smile, nod, and then ask, “but really, you someplace where you go, right?” And I smile and shake my head.
“But, where do you send your mail?” I tell them about the mail service that holds it for me and forwards it when I figure out where I will be.
The sense of home and place is so ingrained in our “reality” that most people cannot imagine a life without one. I watch them wrestle with the concept all the time. Some people probably dismiss me as either crazy or full of shit. Some, with their faces lit up in fascination, imagine what it would be like if they could just pack a bag and take off. They’re probably fantasizing to just leave their unfulfilling, stressful, and disappointing life behind them.
But I wonder how many people see what I have done is create my own reality. I recognized a belief instilled in me by family, friends, society, religion, and even the government (who don’t deal well with someone who has no fixed address). I said to myself, “maybe this belief doesn’t actually serve me right now.”
I work in the realm of virtual reality, where we don a headset and enter an artificial reality constructed by someone else. It’s an exciting technology with thrilling implications.
But what if you didn’t need a VR headset to change your reality? What if your “reality” is a set of beliefs implanted within you at an early age, and that you had the power to examine them, and discard the ones that don’t serve you?
What could your life become if you bent reality to your will? Because you can.
Now, if your first response to this is “yeah, but…” followed by all the reasons you can’t change your reality, then maybe you’re not ready for this work. That’s OK. We are all in different places on our journey. I hear people all the time voice excuses as to why they are not in control of certain aspects of their lives.
If the idea of changing your reality is exciting and you want to dive further down that rabbit hole, I invite you to work with me in a new coaching program I’m developing for Q2 2020. Just reply to this email with “I want to change my reality” in the subject, and we can schedule a time for a call to discuss how I might help.
The program is for people unfulfilled in their relationships and/ or careers that are open-minded to possibilities. If you’ve achieved “success” yet remain unhappy, there’s more out there for you. I’d love to help you find it.