Losing Innocence in Return for Wisdom

I’m going to keep today’s blog nice and short because I don’t have internet connection and I’m writing it on my phone.

I started and finished reading Walden on Wheels today, a book by Ken Ilgunas. It is about a young man and his life. He writes about his undergraduate career, his following three years, and his graduate career. However, there is a theme to his book: debt. The whole novel is centered around escaping his student loans. His goal expands into a much bigger journey than he was originally imagining–into one of frugality, adventure, ingenuity, and the courage to be different and to face his fears. I was enthralled the entire time and couldn’t put the book down except to gush about it for half an hour to Andrea, my friend and co-worker in Bolga. I am struck by the book. I think it has changed my life.

Before I left for Bolga, my best friend at school, Seamus, gave me the book and said I should read it. It was one of those books that sat on my shelf watching me day after day. Finally I picked it up and burned through it in one go. Thank goodness I did.

It was as if a weight lifted off of my shoulders and a voice whispered to me, “Faolan, get your shit together, buck up, and be you.” The voice was a bit more gentle and coercive but the message came through regardless. In his life, Ken experienced so much and learned from all kinds of people. He met ex-convicts, murderers, those who lived happily off the land, alcoholics, college students, etc. He fully immersed himself in life for better or for worse. His role model, as might be assumed from the title of the book, was Thoreau (spelling his name always is a challenge for me). One of Thoreau’s most famous quotes is about going to the woods so as to live and not come back at the end of his life to see he never lived at all. He wanted to “suck the marrow out of life.” Today, many of us have similar aspirations and yet we don’t step into the life of our dreams, we wait insisting that it’s too dangerous, too hard, or simply impossible. I’ve decided that what we do is not as important as doing anything at all. If you have a dream, why wouldn’t you do it?

If you have a dream, let me know and I will support you however I can, I promise.

On another note, I’ve been realizing how unbelievably and naively fortunate I am. I don’t know how it has taken so long for me to notice the truth staring at me. I am easily one of the most innocently (to an extent) ignorant people. All people are ignorant in certain subjects and I don’t claim to be in all of them, but certain things simply live outside my realm of consciousness. I have always known that there are “starving children in Africa,” but being here in its presence is vastly different. However, that’s not even what is shocking to me. I realized while reading WoW that I have no idea what many people, perhaps even the majority of people, go through in their lives. My life has been so extraordinary (and I mean that word in its truest essence) sheltered. My family has not always had abundance financially and my parents certainly did have an abundance of issues to pass down to me, but compared to so many others, I am so fortunate.

I’m not sure how to use this information yet, but it honestly is revolting and sickening to realize. When I think about the opportunities I have been afforded and the life I have lived I can’t help but think of the things I have given a half-hearted effort to, the hours I’ve wasted playing video games, and the jobs I have turned down because I don’t want them. I think that, more than anything else, I am obligated to do the most that I can with my life simply because I have the chance to, while others do not. What going all in looks like for me, I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s going to be a fun, exhilarating, challenging journey and it all starts with starting and believing. Believe in yourself and everything else will fall into place.

All the best to you on this Tuesday in July. I hope that you are secure in food, excited to wake up, and grateful to have what you have.



4 Comments on “Losing Innocence in Return for Wisdom

  1. We will have plenty of conversations it looks like when you get back. Go forth…


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