I was in Maine. It was a beautiful September day and I was shopping in downtown Portland. I had recently made the decision to leave NYC and move to my home state. I was in Maine sniffing out real estate and telling my nearest and dearest the big news.
What I wasn’t saying out loud, or really admitting to myself, is that the closer I got to moving back to Maine, the more depressed and contracted I felt. My friend Bindu Wiles sent me a text that Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity, was in Portland that night doing a book signing and gathering during his 63-stop unconventional book tour. I happened to be a block away from the event so, always a faithful follower of synchronicity, I went.
What I expected was to meet a cool blogger and author who I followed on Twitter. What I got was way bigger than that. I loved what Chris had to say about pursuing big dreams simply for the sake of themselves. I loved what he had to say about being a non-conformist as a way of making the world a better place. He spoke to my unconventional-self.
I read his book on the plane back to NYC with tears in my eyes. I realized that my plan to move to Maine, find a lobsterman to marry, get myself outfitted with a white picket fence, and get settled already was exactly the opposite of what I truly desired.
And so that night over dinner at Employees Only with my dear friend Danielle, The Freedom Tour was hatched. Inspired by Chris’ audacious goal of traveling to every country in the world by his thirty-fifth birthday, I decided to get rid of my stuff, buy a Prius, and go on an indefinite road trip to explore freedom.
I recently had the pleasure of spending several days with Chris in Austin, TX at SXSW in a little house I rented for the interactive, film, and music festival that brings innovative, unconventional, creative types from all over the world to mix, mingle, and inspire for a week.
The biggest risk of really getting to know people you admire from afar either through their writing or other creative work is that they’ll disappoint you in person. I’m grateful to say that Chris exceeded my wildest expectations as a real person and I’m thrilled to report that not only is he brilliant, innovative, as unconventional as advertised, and very funny, he’s also a perfect gentleman.
Chris and I took a moment on the front stoop to chat about what to pack on an adventure, how he defines nonconformity, what the most annoying question he’s ever been asked is, and what he’s most afraid of.
Enjoy this episode of Glimpse TV!
Do you have a big, audacious goal? What is it? Chris and I would love to hear about it!
How do you define nonconformity? Do you practice it? If so, how?
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