The Journey


Part of what I like about adventures is the challenge for the sake of the challenge.

I like the logistics. I like trying to figure out flight schedules to Papua New Guinea. I don’t always like getting stuck in random places, but I like finding my way out.

Those of you out there with big goals of your own—think about the journey. If you know you can enjoy it for what it is, without any other reward, you know you’re on the right track.

Mary Oliver knows how this works; read her encouragement for fellow wanderers below.


The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

Here’s wishing you all a great week from the road. I’m en route between the Americas and Europe, and will report in whenever I’m able.

Good luck with your own journey (not that you need luck).


Image: BuffaloBill

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  • Patrenia says:

    I’m in agreement with you. It’s all about the non-conformist lifestyle. Life is boring when it’s routine and you get the same results from day to day. Enjoy your trip!

  • Mark Dowdell says:

    Those last two lines are powerful.

    As much as you can try to help others follow their path to greatness, the only one capable of getting them there is themselves. Leading by example is the most effective way to give others the assistance they need. There’s no selfishness involved in those lines, it’s simply imperative to save yourself.

    I mean, look what you’re doing, Chris. You’ve inspired countless individuals with your amazing goals, turning around to show others how to do it, not to hold their hand. Just knowing that you’ve lit that flame under my ass, it pushes me every single day. We all need each other to save oursleves.

  • Lindsey says:

    I adore this poem; it has been one of my favorites for a long time. A treat to reread it, and to know it also speaks to you.

  • Susan says:

    Hi Chris,

    I loved Mary Oliver’s take on life and it really hit home. Sometimes our deepest desires and dreams never see the light of day but we think we are alone in our negative brain thought bashing.

    Mary speaks with truth and knowing that we are much more alike than we are different.

    Thank you for sharing her work and good luck on your current journey!

  • Diana says:

    “Mend my life!”
    each voice cried.

    Indeed. Love the poem. Thanks for posting it.

  • Claire Bronson says:

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Ana says:

    I love the poem and I really liked your comment: “Good luck with your own journey (not that you need luck).”

    It’s true, ultimately we are the creators of our own destiny and our journey will take us there so let’s make it a good one.

    Thanks Chris.

  • Karen Talavera says:

    Freaky that you published that! It’s my favorite poem of all time. Deeply moved. Off on my own trip on Thursday (skiing). Enjoy your travels, I’m exhausted just reading about your year! Sending you supportive energy . . .

  • Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave says:

    Words from Mary Oliver always touch my day–something like when you and a fellow walker on the trail bump arms as you walk. It’s nothing more important and nothing less vital than just knowing someone is walking also.

  • soultravelers3 says:

    Oh, sooo true & I LOVE Mary Oliver! ( often quote her on my twitter stream).

    I love the logistics too and finding the way out of places, the twists and turns. I was just talking to my husband about that as I was researching and fantasizing about taking some cargo ships to Tahiti and around the south Pacific, earlier today, planing our adventures to come.

    I said how grateful I am that our child gets to experience this traveling lifestyle & how just the journey alone enriches her. This child who had never taken a bus when we left in 2006 when she was 5, now at 9 has experienced subways, buses, trains in 32 countries & is totally comfortable on a cargo ship, plane or camel. Walking the land of so many countries buying groceries or planning itineraries or getting lost together.

    Ordinary things in extraordinary places can be an education in itself!

  • Susan says:

    Me too. It also makes you feel like “I can figure this out” in most any ‘everyday’ situation when you already know you’ve talked your way into Saudi Arabia without a valid visa….

  • Lisa Sellman says:

    I always get a smile deep from my heart when I read your blog but today was different. I read the poem and I had not read it before and kept thinking, oh no, Chris is taking me some place I had not planned on going. I read it three times and I have finally smiled because I developed the realization and appreciation at this moment that this is what I needed to learn today. I tend to love life so much I find it to be a lonely place at times. It is quite easy to complain all of the time but when you are on the path to inner peace and stillness and securing every bit of marrow out of the bone of life (I am a dog person, too) then you some times wonder if things are going right. When I finished the poem on the third time, I knew I was right where I am suppose to be. Thank you again, my smile is right where it should be.

  • Yo says:

    thank you for that inspiring poem!

  • Ben says:

    I´m riding my motorcycle from the USA to the southern most city in the world. I´m now in southern Patagonia, Argentina andI had one of those challenging days today. But there was joy in overcoming the difficulty.

    I also remember getting through the Central American border crossings. Ya, they take forever, and ya they are confusing, and ya everyone tries to rip you off, but it´s also so much fun playing the game and getting through.

    Great post, keep up the good work and positive attitude!

  • John Williams says:

    Here’s wishing you a great adventure, Chris! Good luck with the BA situation, especially.

  • linda says:

    Of course I love this poem. My blog is called journeyseeds…and I have Mary Oliver’s poem The Journey on my front page. It’s a great theme I think…..

  • Andi says:

    I LOVE challenges, especially when they’re related to travel. The Journey, ahhh it’s SO worth the crazy ride!

  • Devin says:

    Hey all,

    Love the sentiment. I feel good about being the right track. I also love the word, “journey,” except when I hear it used on reality television.

  • ConsciouslyFrugal says:

    Mary Oliver! Gotta love that poem. The one you cited, coupled with her poem, “Wild Geese” could prove to be all one needs to make it through life.

  • Rishi says:

    I feel “The Journey” is about thoughts. How you are not your thoughts/emotions. You’re something much bigger than that. And once you can see thru this fog to recognize yourself. You’ve saved yourself, the only one person you could save.

  • Alicia says:

    A great reminder that when you’re going through hell – keep going. Thanks Chris for another meaningful post.

  • Brandon Sutton says:

    Hey Chris – thanks for the inspiring post/poem! I knew I was going to love it by the title.

    In the movie Peaceful Warrior, the main character came to the realization that life is all about ‘the journey’ as he said those two simple words. It was a poignant moment in the film and really spoke to me personally.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Safe travels…

  • Molly Hoyne says:

    This poem is at the beginning of my world traveling journal from back in 2006. It spoke to me then, and it still holds power now.

    Love that Mary Oliver! Thanks for the reminder, Chris. Have fab time on the road. Sorry to miss you in P-town! I’ll be there this Thurs-Sat…

  • juds123 says:

    That was a caffeine jolt, Chris!

    Every struggle, big or small, as a journey…whether it is traveling in some place or wrestling with pending issues in my mind. The best part is in overcoming the difficulty or in resolving the matter or even in not getting what I want provided I did something about it…and afterwards, I like the feeling that comes with it. 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    I forgot how much I love poetry. I posted this on a health forum I’m active on in the motivation section. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lana Kravtsova says:

    “Enjoy the journey for it is” – this is beautiful Chris! That’s totally what I am doing, I am on the right track:)

  • Jordy Clements says:

    It’s odd, I have to return to Boston from Omaha for a bachelor’s party, and I have totally been regretting booking the ticket (probably costing myself in the process). I know you revel in travel hacking, Chris, but all the websites, services, programs–I constantly feel like I’m losing in some grand game.

    But then I remember running to catch buses in Colombia, or “talking” with taxi drivers in Turkey by pointing and hoping. I DO enjoy the journey, it’s just hard to remember that sometimes…

  • FreeThinker says:

    Great inspiration and affirmation.
    I’m one that loves challenges and not for the outcome (as it’s just icing if it goes well ), but the process and logistics as you mentioned.
    The journey makes it all worth while.

    Really happy I found this site.. Carry on fellow unconventionalists (yeah not I know not a real word 🙂 )

  • AdventureRob says:

    It’s all about the journey Chris!

    It’s my 1 year of travel anniversary today too n_n may it continue for more years to come too….

  • Debbie Clark says:

    I absolutely needed to read this right now. Thank you, Chris.

  • Baran says:

    I don’t have anything to add to this conversation, but Karol Gajda told me if I like a blog post just to say Thank You. So thank you!

  • Tina says:

    Wow, talk about synchronicity — I just read this poem for the first time, a few weeks ago, in a book called something like “Twelve Poems To Change Your Life.” Very spooky…

  • Chris Fritz says:

    I’m one of the only people I know who actually LIKES traveling – even flying! Whenever I’m traveling, it’s always the end of one adventure, and the start of another. And in that gap between adventures, it’s a whole new adventure – a world that’s opened up, where everyone knows it won’t last. The cast will soon recycle itself, so we’re all more open to sharing our thoughts and experiences (Why not? That world will end soon anyway). Sometimes it doesn’t go well (hint: Brussel Midi is not the middle station on the way to Brussel Zuid [south], it’s the same as Brussel Zuid, and if you miss it, next top just might be Paris). So I’ve spent some unintentional nights in cities or the middle of nowhere, sleeping in or outside of train stations. Hey, it happens, but like Chris, I like finding my way out of it.

  • Greg Blencoe says:


    Thanks for sharing this poem. I really like the idea of listening to your own inner voice and ignoring the loud voices around you.

    A couple of years ago, I asked my grandmother what advice she would give 18-year olds about life. And she responded by simply saying:

    “Follow your heart.”

    I think this is basically what the poem is saying.

    And I totally agree with this statement that you made:

    “If you know you can enjoy it for what it is, without any other reward, you know you’re on the right track.”

  • Cynthia Morris says:

    I love the logistics of travel, too. It’s fun to engage my street smarts.

    You’ve probably already seen this, but it made a lot of sense to me and I think you’re benefiting brain-wise from your travels!

  • kathleen says:

    thanks for posting that poem, Chris! I used to treasure that poem in high school and had forgotten all about it. Of course the timing of reading it now is PERFECT, as always.
    Lovely reminder for us all.

  • Walker says:

    Chris writes: “If you know you can enjoy it for what it is, without any other reward, you know you’re on the right track.”

    This reminds me of a friend who taught me that you are living close to your area of calling if you are able to do difficult or long, mundane tasks without it frustrating you.

  • Adam Kornfield says:

    In travel, I love getting lost and turned about. There is no real final destination, its all about getting there.

    The more stories the better.

  • Steven says:

    Chris – you nailed it. I enjoy planning a trip right down to the hour and figuring out how to get from place to place so that I can maximize my sightseeing time. Then, when I get there, I deviate from the schedule if I want to, or if I am tired, or my wife is getting frazzled or whatever. I don’t feel like I HAVE TO keep the schedule. I just get a lot of satisfaction from planning the trip. It makes it last longer and I see more of the things I want to see. So far, I’ve never been able to keep the pace I’ve set for myself, but that’s OK. The memories I bring back (and the pictures and video) are what it’s all about. Obsessing about keeping a schedule would ruin it for me. So, I don’t! I have fun.

  • FredInChina says:

    Osu Chris,

    I took the liberty to echo your post on my just-started-yesterday karate journey around the world blog.
    …indeed: ………………………….one day I finally knew…

    Maybe our paths will bring us together one of these days.

  • Susan says:

    Often the journey is the most fun, just like dreaming is usually the best part of achievement and not the actual moment of achieving.

  • Alastair says:

    Once again a perfectly timed post Chris. I’m contemplating my journey and this poem profoundly summed up what I want to feel. Thanks!

  • emma says:

    I simply love Mary Oliver. She articulates so specifically and concisely that which I think and hope. So happy for the reminder, Chris, thanks!

  • Wyman says:

    While my wife and I are taking care of my 93 year old mother-in-law and some walking problems of my own, actual travel is very limited at this time. I am working on weight lose to move better.

    The journey I am now enjoying is building my on line business. The money will mostly be donated to improving the lives of those in 3rd world countries. It is a technical struggle but I am having a blast.

    I’ll travel through you for the moment. Enjoy Chris.

    I once questioned the value of just traveling without a purpose (agenda) but I have come to understand the value of just doing your thing for its own sake.

  • a bennett says:

    Ah, yes, I am reminded that Mary Oliver is coming to Cleveland soon … as I look out at another gray, rainy NEO day (Northeastern Ohio), I imagine the stars her words conjure and listen for my own small voice.

  • Beth says:

    This is a wonderful passage, so inspirational! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sonicsuns says:

    Good stuff.

  • Matt says:

    I’ve never read this poem before, but I love it!

    “But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn..”

  • Sanish says:

    Thanks Chris for this inspirational poem.

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