Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Below I've posted my self-description, which I originally wrote for my work with Blue Zones. They asked me to write about myself in terms of childhood and in terms of travelling/exploring the world (and also to list my accomplishments*). Here's what came out:

* Traveled in six of the seven continents
* Was once in the room with four living Presidents
* Won High School Championship in Volleyball
* Lived and worked in Costa Rica
* Worked on Kerry/Edwards 2004 Campaign
* Slept in over 135 beds from May 2004- May 2005
* Founded the philosophy/travel Web site ienjoysneezing.blogspot.com

As a kid I was mostly into playing sports with my friends. I always said that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up. I wasn't much of an explorer. The first exploration I remember took place when I was around seven years old. My older brother and his friends were planning on heading into the woods behind my house to find the abandoned (and supposedly haunted) house deep in the forest. I begged them to let me come along. The house had been destroyed in a fire many years before and my brother told me that the ghost of the witch who had lived there still haunted the premises. I was scared out of my mind.

When I was a kid I hated having to change my clothes with the turn of the seasons. In the fall, when the weather turned cold, my mother would force me to wear long pants instead of shorts. I always said that I didn't like the feeling of the pants. In the spring, my mother and I would have the exact opposite fight: I always refused to start wearing shorts again, claiming that shorts didn't feel right.

It wasn't until I went to Spain at age 20 to study the country, the language and the culture that I became interested in travelling abroad. I have spent more than three out of the last six years out of the country and I believe that it has shaped me into who I am today. I have learned that the society that I grew up in is just one of the infinite realities that exist on our planet. I have learned that even though there are six billion people on Earth with six billion different lives, there are certain pieces of life that all people share. I have learned to be patient, to trust the righteous path, to trust myself and my choices. I have learned when to swim with the current and when to swim against it. I have put myself in difficult situations, mild danger and physical discomfort. The more I challenge myself through travelling, the more I appreciate the warm comfort of coming home---the familiar faces, my family and friends, the food I grew up eating, and, perhaps most of all, my bed.

Despite all I've experienced and learned in the past 20 years, despite the physical discomfort I've put myself through on my travels, the 30-hour chicken bus rides through mountainous northern India, the extreme heat of New Delhi in May, and the insatiable hunger that two months of eating noodles left in my meat-deprived stomach during my time in Asia, some things never change. To this day I struggle with pants. Yes...PANTS. I tend to find a pair of pants that I really love and wear them everyday for 6 months, maybe a year, until they fade away and die. I struggle to adjust when I lose a pair of pants to the gods of wear and tear. I mourn the loss. Then, some day not too long after, I find a new pair of pants, which I will undoubtedly wear for the next 6-12 months. Also, I haven't worn jeans since the early 1990's. I tried a pair on at the Gap a few weeks ago. It was repulsive.

My point is this: after all I've experienced, all I've learned, there are certain pieces of our personality that will never change. And that sums me up pretty well. I put myself in tough situations, I challenge myself to adjust, to change, to become a better person. But there are certain parts of me that are simply me.

That's Michael.


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