This month is the kick-off for a new feature on my blog! Each month I will feature a brave bellyflopper. Someone who has taken a brave leap forward despite the possibility of things going askew. If you’d like to be featured, please do not hesitate to contact me at: tko@bravebellyflops.com! I look forward to hearing about your awesomeness!

To get us started this month I am featuring Nathan Parker, adventure traveler extraordinaire. In his own words:

If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them about your plans.

About two years ago, I was a licensed acupuncturist in California. For someone not even a year out of school, I had a remarkably successful practice, doing something that I loved. I had an office in San Francisco and in Oakland, and could at least pay all my bills, while most of my classmates had already gone back to their old jobs, moved back in with their family, or resorted to being supported by their spouses in the tech industry. But I looked at where I was, and where things were heading, and I realized that, no matter how good I was at what I was doing, it wasn’t ever going to be enough. The cost of living in the area was being driven by the tech industry, another bubble was coming, the wholesale looting of American infrastructure and the steady dismantling of the Bill of Rights, to name a few factors, all came together at once in my mind. I suddenly knew, as terrifying as it was, that what I’d spent the last 4 years studying, and gone deeply into debt for, was never going to be more than a way of running as fast as I can just to stand still. So I left.

monkey and monkey

I folded my practice, I gave away most of my possessions, except what could fit in my bag, and I bought a one way ticket. I had only the vaguest of plans, none of which worked out, and simply kept moving, doing whatever seemed to make sense at the moment. Over that next year, I wandered through 6 countries, became a Wilderness EMT, made friends all over the world, nearly died, and had experiences that I will cherish forever. I’ve stayed mobile, poised, living life on my toes, always ready to say “yes” first, and figure out how after. And that’s led me here, to Taipei, where I’ve been flown out to help an international artist collective design and build a huge art project for Burning Man. I’ve jumped into the deep end, and despite never having worked on a big art project before in any capacity, I’m now the project manager for a quarter million dollar project with a crew pulled from at least 6 countries. My crew is amazing, we’re kicking ass, I’m learning new things every day, and we’re already entertaining offers for big projects in Asia that could potentially make this a viable career.

Of course, nothing ever goes to plan, and I’m not counting on anything. But right now, I have what would have been my dream job if I’d had a grander imagination, getting paid to travel and make amazing art with my friends. And then, something else will happen.

Check out Nathan’s adventures at Leaving for a Living and read great reflections on uprooting oneself. 

 

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