With a mother who escaped the tyrannical rule of Ceauşescu, and a father who escaped the extreme boredom of western Illinois, I was born with a sense that there was more to the world than just my own backyard. I spent my youth in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., often imagining myself to be anywhere else.

After graduating from college–armed with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a conviction to move “anywhere warm”–I landed a job in San Antonio, Texas. I quickly learned that in Texas, summer was not so much a season as a way of life.

I spent nearly eight years in San Antonio, which was possibly four years too long. Though taking frequent trips to visit friends across the country and in Canada, I felt the yearning desire to explore further. My attention to work suffered, and in January 2016, my employer decided enough was enough and fired me.

That should have been a wake-up call–the culmination of a multi-year downward spiral of depression and poor choices–but it would take me another two months to truly hit bottom. After a particularly tense phone call with my mother, I received a message from an unlikely source–a podcast with musician, computer programmer, and quirky spiritual guru Derek Sivers, who said simply, “Even when everything is going terribly, and I have no reason to be confident, I just decide to be.”

For reasons as of yet unknown, those words clicked in my mind. Inspired by the story of another innovative thinker–Tim Ferriss, who chronicled his own journey from overworked entrepreneur to tango champion in Buenos Aires–I decided to take a 3-month trip to South America. Highlights included: skiing the Andes in July, viewing the mighty Iguazu Falls, biking the vineyards of Mendoza, hiking the remote corners of Northwest Argentina, surviving one of the driest places on Earth in the Atacama Desert, taking in the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu, and trying to surf for the first time in my life in Huanchaco, Peru.

It was during this time that I began chronicling my thoughts. At first, I simply thought a blog was the easiest way to share my journey with friends and family (and let them know I was still alive). It turned out that people enjoyed not only that I had not died, but to read my accounts of my experiences in strange lands.

Upon returning home, I promptly ran out of stories to tell. My well of creative thinking run dry, I decided to take a break from blogging.

Yet something urged me to come back. A nagging sense that I should still be sharing my viewpoint. And a friend who enjoyed my sometimes offbeat thoughts on the world.

I call this my prologue. A summary of the events that led me to this point. And an introduction to my world.