Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat July 04 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | July 4, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Running Full Speed Towards Happiness

    Running Full Speed Towards Happiness

    Taking time to reflect on the last 7 months of travel and where I want to go next (all photos by Shannon Wolf)

    The rhetorical question: What are you running from?

    Facts are facts: we all carry things that haunt us and we travel for various reasons. Some of us travel to find peace within or around us, to forgive ourselves, to forgive others, or to simply start anew.

    After sitting on the beach with my new California friend Steph who is wise beyond her years, we inevitably got to talking about what brought us here — living out of a backpack in the sleepy hippie town of Montezuma with no intention of going back to the lives we left behind in North America.

    She explains to me as we laid on our towels looking into the ocean that “It’s become a common question — having people ask why I left home, if I’m running away and that surely I would have to go back at some point to California. But all I can do is smile politely and say the same line, instead of spilling out my life’s story, that has now become somewhat of a mantra: I left to be happy and it’s as simple as that.”

    She goes on to say, “there was no ‘oomph’ or ‘zest’ to my life and I couldn’t bear to waste a second more of it and so I asked myself one day ‘when was the last time you were happy?’ and all signs pointed to Costa Rica where I used to live for a year just outside of Jaco when I was fifteen. So here I am.

    “This whole thing was supposed to be a spiritual journey, you know? The stereotypical ‘finding myself and working out the kinks’ kind of thing and for a while, I got frustrated trying to search for answers that never came but I realized eventually that it’s not something you can force. All you can do is live in the present, enjoy what’s around you, and let the rest work itself out as it always does in the end.”

    I smiled at her, took a deep breath in of the misty ocean air and said I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

    Everyone I have met who is on a long-term journey has had similar stories about finding their own definition of happiness. It sounds sad but these stories are all laced with hope. What it comes down to is that at some point a metaphoric link broke and we could no longer live without purpose wasting our days away in a premeditative coma.

    The truth is, we are in fact running. But we aren’t running away. We are running full speed ahead — towards happiness.

    After leaving Central America, I found a home away from “home” at the edge of the world in Portugal. I have never been happier.

    For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you live a life you’re proud of … If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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