“Every man has a destiny, but sometimes…fate gets in the way”
I will never forget those words that a simple fisherman told me while backpacking through Malawi, Africa back in 2007. It was one of those moments that you literally stop and have nothing to say remotely close to that level of wisdom. Just two years earlier I was begging to die from a rare strand of malaria that latched on to me in a remote area of the South Pacific known as the Solomon Islands. Not only was I lucky enough to contract the world’s deadliest disease but I was certainly unlucky enough to catch the third worst strand of malaria known to man. In that moment at 21 years old and with hours to live, I had nothing to reflect upon in my short life- no positive exhale of accomplishment, no heroic exit. I quickly came to the realization that the emotional pain of having mere moments to sort through memories of a life saturated in selfishness can be just as excruciating as the disease that gnaws upon your brain like a rabid beast. I hope you never have to experience what it took to shake my world upside down and open my heart to appreciating the only things that make life worth fighting for- family, friendships, love, and ultimately…true happiness. At the end of each passing page my hope is an unspoken bond between you and I, and furthermore a change in life perspective.
One of my best mates would address me with a saying that in its acquaintance would appear silly but within it would radiate so much hope and purpose in my life- he would say to me, “Hey B, cold beer and a hot dart (slang term for a smoke)?” I know it’s intense so I will translate for you- simply, “Hey, let’s talk and restart, let’s connect.” Let’s ignore the fact that clearly a beer and a cigarette were needed for this friendship therapy. Through the years of our discussions and random bull shit I was always left with this encouragement- “Relax. Life takes time”.
In my excursions around the world interacting with thousands of people from different cultures and worldviews, I have noticed three universal similarities amongst all of humanity that have remained consistent over time and will never change-
We ALL feel pain, physically and emotionally.
We ALL want to be loved and accepted.
Finally, we ALL just want to be HAPPY.
From the tallest high rise in Chicago to the deepest jungle in Fiji, every single human being wakes up and pursues happiness on some level and in some way on a daily basis; however, our generation has a very global problem- millions, MILLIONS of people are falling short of an genuine smile and an excitement for life….why??? Unhappiness is at the forefront of divorce, depression, mass killings, addiction, suicide, you name it. The good news is I have discovered the all fulfilling recipe to true, organic happiness; mind you it took about eleven years and it cost a hell of a lot of wear and tear on this body of mine. Now the bad news, for those of you that like to spend money to be happy is that the key to happiness is absolutely free; in fact, true nirvana requires less work than you would think.
In the upcoming pages I will address three lifestyle adjustments, or rather three core “ingredients” that will completely redefine purpose and authentic joy in your life. My stories and reflections won’t contain many scientific words or degree supported studies and statistics- just unedited life as I have seen it, that’s it. This collection of simplistic journals and stories birthed from extraordinary life adventures may ignite purpose and happiness of your own- in all honesty, nothing would fulfill me more. In the meantime chew the meat and spit out the bones and enjoy your read. I am truly honored to have your attention…
What makes YOU happy?
I threw that question out to my friends and family via social media and here were some of their responses:
Helping others achieve the life they have always wanted to live; not the life they have to live, but the one they have always wanted.
True friendship! Knowing that you are not alone, won’t be judged, and having someone to laugh with and talk to.
Seeing friends and family happy, and plenty of sex, alcohol, and money.
Understanding the difference between “success” and “significance”.
Playing and laughing and feeling completely free with my kids.
Having peace of heart and peace of mind through God and what He has done for me here on Earth.
Seeing my child develop, grow and become a better human while being raised by my best friend (wife) and me.
Bottle of Jack Daniels…the inevitable adventure of the future…traveling the world…receiving a heartfelt ‘thank you’…the look of wonder on a child’s face…chocolate…puppies…children when they aren’t crying… a full tank of gas…the first cup of coffee in the morning…catching a sunrise…expressing myself… my own moonshadow… NOT being pregnant…a finished to-do list…
…a good book, a good story…
This unique memoir was written as if you and I were sitting around a porch somewhere with a cold beer and a hot dart in hand, bullshitting over life and connecting on an intimate and real level. I obviously cannot be with you wherever you may be, but instead I have reached inside my emotional core and willingly pulled out my heart and put it right into your hands- “Here you go my friend, here is everything of ME…the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
That is exactly how vulnerable I plan to be with you.
The task of getting Cold Beer and a Hot Dart available to you was no easy feat, and honestly finding time to write while working a full time job and being a full time husband and stepdad to two little boys was actually the easy part. The hardest challenge of the book writing process was digging through eleven years of journals written all over the world and reopening memories and wounds that I had buried deep in my emotional closet. In the many, many hours spent writing this memoir, I found myself laughing hysterically at parts, waiting until the house was asleep to cry over parts, and slamming a few extra cold beers down to power through other parts.
In 2003 I set out as an innocent teenager around the world on a mission to find a source of happiness and personal direction for myself, but after going overseas for the first time and realizing that the world is a whole hell of a lot bigger than my little town of Vancouver, Washington State, I knew that I needed to broaden my international backpacking mission to this:
In a world with so many people, cultures, mindsets, and ways of life, what is the ultimate global recipe for organic happiness and life fulfillment? What are the ingredients that EVERY human being has an equal access to whether it is a tribesmen in the amazon or a millionaire in Manhattan?
ONE recipe to achieve happiness for all of mankind everywhere…what is it?!
If I asked YOU right now, “Are you happy with your life day to day?”, what would your answer be? If your answer is “Without a doubt!” then enjoy these crazy international stories and maybe this book will help you expand on your personal fulfillment. If your answer is “Honestly, no, I’m not happy with my life” then maybe my story and the recipe that I have assembled can help you in your personal journey.
Over a span of eleven years, I backpacked throughout fifteen different countries having been chased by wild animals, contracted one of the world’s deadliest disease three different times, witnessed multiple natural wonders of the Earth, found myself in the middle of demonic deliverances, stepped foot in villages that had never seen white people before, and was also told in 2005 by medical professionals that I have until around age 40 (give or take) to live…well, only time will tell on that one.
Fear not though! Through the incredible adventures and tribulations and every story in between I have discovered the ingredients to organic joy…how I got from point A to point B, however, is purely for your reading entertainment.
The followings pages have been locked away in my mind and heart for quite some time now, but it’s time to just lay it all out on the table. Honestly I believe that it has done me more harm than good to keep my journals sitting in a box collecting dust, for something inside me says that there may be some of you out there that could benefit from my vagabond tales. With all that said, this is my closure to my twenties, and with this memoir in your hands I can finally put the final nails into the rebuilt bridges to my heart.
I can now say in my early thirties that I am truly, undeniably HAPPY.
The journey has been wild, and Cold Beer And A Hot Dart will relive just about every pivotal moment…