It was about 10:30 at night and I was riding my Yamaha R1 sportbike down an empty stretch of road south of Tucson, AZ. I was alone on the road. I started thinking about speed. Not just about going “fast”, but insane speed. I had to do it.

I had to transform those dashed white lines dividing both southbound lanes into a single, speed-induced streak of white.

So, I rolled on the throttle and accelerated. 100 MPH was no problem. Hell, those sportbikes were built for speed. Hardly a vibration. In fact, the bike was just getting started.

I blew past 120. 140. 160. The speedometer went up toward 180 MPH, and adrenaline got the better of me. I had to hit top speed on the bike. I rolled once again on the throttle and pegged that finely-tuned Yamaha R1 engine at 180 MPH in the middle of darkness down a deserted road.

The dashed white lines on the road became a single streak of white. My surroundings were a complete blur. The engine screamed. I was crouched over the fuel tank, barely letting any portion of my body make contact with the 180 MPH air that my motorcycle was knifing through.

Everything was a blur, even the road in front of me. I was tunnel-visioned, focus honed in on what was immediately in front of me. At that moment, nothing else mattered. My priority was satisfying my curiosity of speed while doing my best to avoid a messy death.

My heart nearly exploded from my chest. I wanted it to be over, but on the same token, I couldn’t stop. I was so close to top speed. Had. To. Reach. It.

It didn’t take long before I felt satisfied with my insane stupidity. Almost immediately after hitting 180, I backed off the throttle.

My 2009 Yamaha R1 sportbike

Geez, how far I’ve come

That was about six years ago. It seems like so long ago – a different life, almost. In fact, it was a different life. A much different life. I spent money on stupid toys like that sportbike. The insurance alone was $170/month as I recall and for good reason. People on sportbikes tend to do stupid things.

At the time, I had no intention of retiring early. I was single and living in the suburbs of Tucson, completely free-wheelin’ everything there was about life. I did whatever I wanted. I spent money on whatever I wanted.

…to include riding on two wheels at an insane speed.

Equally insane is the transition from that life to the one I have today. Married with two ridiculously adorable rescued dogs. A 200 square foot Airstream that my wife and I call home. Retired early from a life of full-time work, trading it for a life of full-time travel.

One of our dogs (Penny) and our Airstream in Bend, OR.

And believe it or not, I’m now a much slower driver. In fact, the speed limit usually does it for me these days, and when I’m towing the Airstream, I am typically cruising five to 10 below the speed limit.

Before, even when I wasn’t traveling at 180 MPH, I usually wasn’t at the speed limit, either. I maintained a good 10 to 15 above. Always in a hurry. I prioritized getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Not necessarily as efficiently as possible. Quickly. Speed was the priority.

SSDD was getting old

Eventually, the same ol’ drained me of motivation. Same Shit Different Day (SSDD) was getting old. It crushed my soul. I robotically went into work for no other reason than to collect a paycheck. I went home to an empty house every day. No wife. An occasional girlfriend, but they were few and far between. I always found something I didn’t like. Some reason why “it would never work out”. My future just wasn’t a priority.

It especially hit home during the holidays. I visited family, of course. Key West one year. North Carolina the next. Sometimes, I’d just spent it with a co-worker friend who probably took a little pity on me. It was usually fun, but after the holidays were over, I’d return home. Silent and alone. Back to normal. Back home. Lonely, unfulfilled. A recluse. Hollow head to foot.

One evening, something happened. I can’t put my finger on what, exactly – but, it did. Driving home from work one day, I began to realize what I allowed my life to turn into. I suddenly became conscious and laser-focused on everything that I was letting happen. Year after year. Over and over. At long last, I finally let myself admit that the decisions I was making are murdering my future. Continually. Habitually.

I was, once again, driving toward an empty home. Nobody was there to greet me. I was alone. Again. Another year has gone by and another year spent alone. And, I sure as hell wasn’t getting any younger.

And thus, I took risks. Unnecessary risks. Like riding a sportbike. And paying incredible amounts of money – wasted money – to make myself feel better about the pathetic state of affairs that my life turned into.

Mind you: Nobody would have accused me of a lack of success. I played the part well. I looked successful. And occasionally, I even felt successful. But, it was a facade, too. Once you got to know me, you began to realize I had nothing meaningful in my life. No future plans. No real ambition.

I just had a bunch of toys that helped take my mind off of what I let my life degrade into. Eventually, even those expensive toys couldn’t cover up that stinking abyss that only I got to witness – night after night.

I said I was just “focusing on my career”.

Yeah, bullshit.

But on the bright side…

The wife and I in a brewery

Those mistakes make the life I’m leading today feel so much more satisfying. So fulfilling. I finally prioritized happiness in my life. A year later, I met my soon-to-be wife. We discussed our futures every day. We planned together. Now, I get to spend every night with the person I love.

I no longer have all those toys – those expensive objects that used to mask my true persona. And in truth, I no longer NEED those toys. I have no abyss to cover up. It’s turned into a mountain.

A mountain of F’ing happiness.

My life is like a tale of two cities. The first city looked chiseled and put together, full of luxuries and thrill rides. But once you stepped inside those impeccably-manicured buildings, you saw the wreckage. The foundations were weak. You wanted to leave, and quickly.

The second city is way more modest. But, every building is built like a tank. The structure is solid and earthquake-proof. People walk around happy and content. We’re smiling because we’re genuinely happy, not because we’re covering up our hollow city with toys and buffed turds.

And I am so damn grateful that I moved cities.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, I gotta ask – what was the stupidest or “insaniest” mistake you’ve made in a previous life? Something that you may never admit to in person, but because you’re behind the safety of your keyboard, you don’t mind divulging on this little blog?  🙂

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