Posted by: rngerlach | July 23, 2007

My Final Message from Europe: Live YOUR Life

I warn you this is a long blog posting pretty much summing up some of my thoughts from the last eight weeks. Enjoy…

Many will ask upon my return, “what was Europe like?” or “how was Europe?” I must be honest, I can not sum up complete reply to those questions. It is truly something that must be experienced to fully understand, just like anything else in life. I will have too many stories to share, just pick a city or a country you would like to hear about and I will be off and running with stories, but you just will not comprehend unless you have travelled for any extensive time. I will do my best to sum up Europe and my newly gained perspective on this world and the people who inhabit it. In one sentence, the last two months in Europe was the most adventurous and educational two months of my life thus far. It wasn´t so much the tangibles that I gained, its the intangibles. I learned the most about myself, other people, other cultures, and gained a better understanding of how this world works.

Travelling Europe is not for everyone, though I do think everyone should experience it. So just some snapshots of what our Europe experience was: Its waking up not knowing who you might meet or what you will see; its playing hopscotch in the shower because the water turns from hot to cold and cold to hot in the blink of an eye; its sitting in a train station at 2am in delerium waiting for that morning train to arrive; its meeting the coolest Australian ever, only to meet a cooler Aussie two days later; its sitting on a beach in Greece wondering why you should ever leave; its walking through Rome with a bad fever just to see the colosseum; its sitting on another beach in Spain wondering again why you should ever leave; its sitting in anticipation overlooking the cliff into the river where you are about to freefall 200 feet before swinging through the canyon; its running through a narrow street with bulls at the same time wondering what the hell am I doing?; its walking European city after city seeing incredible sculptures, arwork, and history; its going four days in Amsterdam only to wonder where the past four days have gone; and finally its waking up the last day of the trip contemplating on the last two months and thinking “damn, its been one hell of a ride.”

Historical Perspective:

We were lucky enough to see some of the great historical sights on this journey including the Acropolis, Colosseum, the David by Michelangelo, the Van Gogh Museum, Eiffel Tower and much much more.  However, when I look at where the world is today with technology increasing the speed and change ever so rapidly, I must pause and think how this all came about.  Many things have contributed to it including the rise of the internet created by Berners Lee, the rise of software through Microsoft, and of course Google.  Yet, lets think on a global perspective of how this was made possible.  Many companies today are outsourcing to India or China to do the backoffice work while they can concentrate on the service side of their jobs in the states.  Where am I going with this?  I feel none of the outsourcing and rapid rate of globalization would be occurring as quickly without one historical landmark date.  November 9 of 1989, the day the Berlin Wall fell and thus disintegrated the barrier between the Eastern and Western world.  I won´t get into detail about what caused the wall to go down, it is actually a comical story to hear about the day the wall came down, please ask me about it in person.  Since that day, the socialist and communist way of life in the Eastern world has slowly but surely turned to capitalism joining the rest of the world in this rapid rate of change and globalization.  And who has benefited the most? China and India now have hope in this capitalist world since they have the wealth of knowledge.  Again, this is a tangent I have started but I look at all of the historical sights we have seen and have to think that the Berlin Wall has cause the most impact on where we stand today in a fast-changing global economy and society.

This all brings me to my next point about change.  One thing is for certain in this world that humankind has always struggled with and that is change.  I just touched on a little bit of how the world is changing so rapidly but think about people.  Relationships change because people change and only those relationships that last through the change show a form of compatability to the change.  Do not resist the change in your personal lives it will only slow your growth down in a world of rapid change.  Travelling through Europe, something was new everyday, things were continuosly changing.  Friends would come and go, times would be good and they would be bad.  It seemed like a microcosm of life.  We saw so much and met so many people yet we are only hitting the tip of the iceberg on world travels.  Anthony Keidis, vocalist for Red Hot Chilli Peppers, summed up this trip with the lyrics “the more I see, the less I know, so I just have to let it go.”  It was so overwhelming at times how much change was happening and it hurt when I resisted until I realized we are only seeing a very small part of the world and there is so much more to it, so I just had to let it go.

Live Your Life:

My true final message is to Live YOUR life.  It is such a simple phrase but it is a phrase that I think has a liberating ring to it.  Don´t try to live the life your parents wanted to or be in the shoes of your favorite athlete, rockstar, or actor.  They are all just people like you and I.  I do not think comparisons do any good in this world either.  “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Living a life through comparison to others will only make you live their life.  Instead of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ perspective, try landscaping your perspective and live through your heart by being uniquely yourself.  I am one who compares many things in this world and to be honest it was never really productive. Never be too foolish to put others above you (millionaires, rockstars, athletes, government, your managers or bosses), yet never be too arrogant to put yourself above those who are less fortunate than you (the bum on the corner, mentally challenged, physically challenged, etc.)  Because the reality is we all have the same bloodflow with similar desires and similar struggles.  The us vs. them attitude will only take you to the land of comparisons.  I think once you see the world as one whole community, you see the proverbial ‘light’.

I have done my absolute best on this blog to help you share the European experience with me but the truth of the matter is literature or pictures just don´t do it any justice.  You really cannot feel the experiences I have endured the last two months and I cannot feel what you have gone through in the past two months or even a lifetime. The best we can do is share them with each other and let the imagination wonder.  In retrospect, our life is only a speck in the line of history on this earth so all you can ever do is live your life.  Inherit the change that is inherent in you;  Read a new book, try a new cuisine, meet a new person no matter how weird you perceive them to be, sing a new song, dance a new dance, etc.  Whatever it is, make sure you are living the way you want to live.    Because one day, this earth is still in rotation and you are not here anymore, but until that day LIVE YOUR LIFE!


I have several thanks to give, big thanks to:

Nick Urbani for encouraging me to do this travel blog, I truly hope it has only opened up your minds as much as the experience did for me.  Great idea Nick!

Josh Ragland, Cando, and Pappa Green for always being the firsts to leave awesome comments on the blog, I never really knew if people were actually reading it but you three were always on top of it.  Also big thanks to Ragland for the map of Amsterdam, that map is legendary!  And big thanks to Cando for encouraging us to run with the bulls, so many stories to share.

Tyana for being great company in Greece and sharing all to good spots to visit in Barcelona and Paris

And of course I have to thank my parents for supporting this trip as it has changed my life in so many ways, it would not have been possible without their support.

Finally, a big thank you to the one person who experienced this continent minute by minute with me, for putting up with my funky yoga stretches after long days of walking, keeping my attitude in check when it went sour, and for being an incredible brother. Thanks Dana!

56 days, 13 countries, 26 cities, 22 hostels, 3 night trains, 2 travellers, and 1 unforgettable journey to last a lifetime!

Signing off from Europe, see you all very soon!



  1. Well said my friend, well said. I enjoyed reading your posts these last few weeks and truth be told, it became part of my morning ritual, drinking my morning coffee while reading the newest post and imagining myself there or remembering my own experiences at some of the places i have traveled that we share in common.
    The section above about live your life really struck a nerve with me. Case in point ,June 9th 1996, facing friends, family, and teachers about my decision to wear a “tree suit” and wield a m-16 rather than wear a polo shirt and wield a calculator for 4 years. The question was always “why?” and the answer was always the same. ” It’s my life and I want to live it the way I want live it” did I lose some friends over my decisions? sure but what I have gained and how I have grown totally made it worth while.
    Travel safe my friend and keep fighting the good fight!

  2. Your most welcome my friend.. i was so glad I could help you and dana on your trip! Glad you two will be back soon!

  3. I remember when we all talked about this blog idea with Nick you told me you didn’t really write too often, but you wanted to someday write a book.

    This has been such a crazy adventure for you, I’m so stoked that you got to experience everything you did. This is the Bohemian Revolution, our lives I mean.

    I know you won’t be the same Red as before, but even better! Don’t worry about the travel itch, only three more months ’til we’re on the road again! safe travels!

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