288 days after this reckless, life-changing journey began, my plane finally touched down in familiar territory: Houston, Texas. I might not know what it looks like, but I'm excited still to begin the next chapter of my life. First, however, I owe my mother several dozen hugs.
Rode My School Bus(?)!
I rounded out my Big Damn Trip through Asia in the best manner possible: spending an incredible week at the Kopila Valley Children's Home in Surkhet, Nepal. There, amidst the color and commotion of the first week of the school year, I hopped on a familiar yellow school bus and rode along for its first morning route through Surkhet's sleepy streets. Watching the seats crinkle under the weight of dozens of shy, smiling students made for a morning I'll never forget.
4,130 Meters Above
Perched high in the white crags of the Himalaya, the Annapurna Base Camp has quickly--and rightfully--become a rite of passage for Nepali trekkers. My week-long slog there and back forced me to walk uphill six hours daily through sloped farmlands, white rock riverbeds, and slick paths carved into the ice, snow and hail dogging my footsteps through the mountains. Standing at the base camp, blinding white all around, I realized something profound: I'm an idiot. Don't do this in Converse, people. Don't be like Matt.
Slept by the dunes of the Thor desert
Citing lax hygiene, grew a beard
First attempt at poledancing
Threw up on the Great Wall of China
The Big Damn Trip begins
With my brother in tow, I grabbed a 10kg backpack and set out for a year in Southeast Asia. We hit China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and India over the course of the journey, making great friends and greater memories all the while.
Inspired by 7-min.com, I threw together a small (and goofy) workout app that lets you shuffle a high-intensity interval training routine of your own selection. Give it a try! I can hear your muscles rippling from here.
Bought a School Bus(?)!
For my 25th birthday, I decided to do something reckless: give up my birthday and try and raise $25,000 to buy a school bus for the students of Kopila Valley. I still can't believe it worked. I also can't believe we blew straight past to $25K and on to $43,870. Read the full story here.
Temporarily mastered the handstand
Third book: Happiness Is
Having penned a list of twenty-something small, simple pleasures in life, could I convince artistic strangers all across the globe to help me illustrate it? I'm proud to offer the result: Happiness Is, on Kindle for 99 pennies or on your hard drive for the shocking price of free.
My Accidental Acting Debut
On a whim, I attended the filming of Scotty McCreer's debut music video, 'I Love You This Big.' I, uh, didn't know who he was beforehand, but that didn't stop the directors from shoving my plaid-clad self into several pivotal scenes. Watch it here!
Second book: Roots
My second book took a different tack: after a few years of living like a caveman (at least in the dietary sense), I'd learned how to simplify so many other parts of my life. Like showering. I've changed my mind on a few things since, but the book proved a valuable teacher in how to design and market a self-published book.
Voluntarily jumped off a bridge
Voluntarily fell out of an airplane
Moved to California
Blessed with both restless feet and an amazing friend (with a couch!) in Hollywood, I packed a single backpack and hopped a plane to LA. This simple, strange move kickstarted a year of transformation, laughter, and much debate over who in the hell had the spare keys.
First book: Simpler
My first book, a treatise on simple ways to live and thrive in an increasingly complex world. It's due a major revision, but it (somehow!) grew popular enough to be translated into Italian and Russian. The Internet is amazing and weird.
Blaming gluten, lost a lot of weight
First blog: Three New Leaves
I'll admit it: I went Paleo. Full Paleo. And I lost a few good pounds in the process, kickstarting a whole new approach to health and fitness that I still carry—in modified form—today. This blog chronicled my progress in the most embarrassing manner possible: shirtless photos. No, you can't see them.
Blaming pizza, gained a lot of weight
Graduated from the University of OK
Wrote a (pretty terrible) novel
My Darkest Secret
Where did I begin my writing career? Where did all this ridiculousness start, you might ask? I have three words: Harry Potter fanfiction. That's all I'm saying. Sorry!
So, so many video games
A Christmas Baby!
In celebration of my sudden (and safe!) arrival, the doctors slid my tiny baby self into a Christmas stocking before handing me to my mother.
25 years later, this would come back to bite me in the ass.