Brandi and I recently connected on Instagram, where she shared her story of the first solo travel she ever did. As a fellow freelance writer and nomad with an affinity for wood smoke and the open road, I knew we were kindred spirits.
She completely inspired me with her story about seeking answers, finding the unexpected and receiving unconditional kindness from strangers in the process. Rather than interviewing her for a Bliss Interview, I thought the best person to tell her story of happiness would be Brandi herself. So, here it is:
“I took my first solo road trip last year out to far West Texas.
I was nervous, excited, and the combination of the two meant forgetting a lot of the essentials. I slowly discovered just how much I had forgotten over the 6-day trip, shaking my head in the middle of the desert with no one but the Ocotillos for miles.
It seemed only fitting that I would find myself in need of help most when there was no one around.
It was a good thing, though – forgetting so much of what I thought I needed. It meant being resourceful, reevaluating everything’s purpose and, most of all, it meant opening myself up to strangers. You see, not every good deed starts with doing something good for someone else. I was on a quest to “find myself,” to run from problems and loneliness at home. I hadn’t thought about anyone but myself in I couldn’t tell you how long. That was part of the problem.
Tunnel vision, closed-mindedness, entitlement. These were the very problems I was running from and it took me nearly 800 miles to face them. It all found me while I was away from home in the mountains on the hard rocky ground without a sleeping pad or a blanket. It took me to a 30-degree night, shivering under a towel I’d found in the back of my car, head sticking out of my tent to gaze at the Milky Way while my teeth chattered to realize what I was running from.
The next day I awoke sore and starry-eyed. I hiked into the mountains for a while, got lost in the rocks, broke camp, and went South to find a blanket. What I found instead was a hardware store in Terilingua, TX. I stopped in and asked where I could find a blanket.
I’ve never done that before – stopped in somewhere to ask for something I couldn’t find myself. Because I’ve always had this gadget we call a cell phone in the palm of my hand with all of the answers. But out in far West Texas, those gadgets don’t get service.
It was appropriate to be stripped of something I call a necessity in the wake of a freezing sleepless night at the hands of my own doing.
Wasn’t that what this was all about? The less you have the more you have, right?
So I went into the hardware store, told the two ladies behind the counter about my predicament, and was surprised by their reaction. Instead of waving me down the road to another store, one of the ladies who happened to live next door retrieved a blanket from her home, while the other told me the best spots to hike at my next destination and tips for keeping the bears and mountain lions out of my tent. Then, both waved goodbye wishing me luck as I walked out of the store with a cozy blanket for the night, free of charge with no obligation to return it.
It seems like such a small gesture, but it was the highlight of my trip. It ultimately granted me the greatest lessons, like: not all strangers are out to hurt you, kindness between human beings still exists, and it’s ok to admit when you need help.
Best of all, it instilled in me the spark of spreading good deeds. When faced with an opportunity to help someone in need, I remember that I was given a comfort – not a necessity – it changed my worldview for life. If something that small can instill a change so great within me, what goodness could I bring to the world through small gestures?
Every day there are opportunities to help someone out and (now) every day I choose to pay it forward. Will you?”
P.S. Brandi is one of the most inspiring, kind people I’ve met out there – don’t you agree? Check out what she’s doing on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And, if you want your own story to be featured, make sure you leave a comment below and I’ll get in touch.
Remember: Choose Happiness!