In 2010 or 2011 I decided to give everything up and live out of a backpack. It didn’t work out but not for the reasons most people would think. I broke up with my girlfriend, sold what I could, donated or trashed the rest, kept two weeks of clothes and enough electronics to get some work done.

I’m ashamed of how I ended things with my girlfriend but grew up around people that slapped their girls around and treated them like servants. It never crossed my mind that someone could grow accustomed to having you around, much less living situations, and things of that nature.

Not all my friends were misogynistic, sexist, pigs but as I got older the ones that were ended up being the ones that were around most often as the decent men took good care of their families had scheduled play time a few times a month. I was a late bloomer so didn’t have many friends to hang out with by the time I met her. Maybe just one or two good friends I admired.

Besides that, it also never crossed my mind that kids looked up to me, my family was proud of me, or that people I never met in my community thought I was a decent person. In my mind since nobody really knew who I was, I seldomly talked to my family, and all my friends were busy raising their families; living out of a backpack didn’t seem like a bad idea. No mortgage, car payments, kids, or wife.

Even though I grew up poor, I grew up sheltered and a bit pampered. My family took me to church several times a week and when I started making friends in middle school only a handful of my friends were my age. The rest were at least five years older and several where in their thirties or already in retirement. Nobody bothered me, I never felt threatened or afraid and because of that when something did happen I was always ready to fight without thought to personal injury.

Living out of a backpack would be easy and would serve as practice for traveling around the world. I lived three to four months in several different parts of L.A. including South L.A., Lincoln Park, Korea Town, Highland Park, La Crescenta, and eventually signed a lease in Downey, back where I started.

I also lived in the Midwest for a while and spent most of my time volunteering and just hanging out.

What I learned from it all was that you don’t have to be a blinged out, balling out of control, violent, aggressive, gangster to feel extremely lucky, like you matter, and like people look up to you.

I also learned that a lot of things people brag about and are willing to commit violence to obtain are just a normal part of life that most people have and don’t require crime to obtain.

The best feeling in the world during this period is the amount of people wanting to help because they though I was down on my luck. I didn’t tell anyone it was a willful decision at first because it would just lead to an awkward conversation about success, prestige, influence, and a legacy.

When I did start to talk to people about my decision, the conversations where more along the lines of you could help a lot of people rather than you could be a blinged out baller that laughs in the face of those less fortunate and peels out in their sport car in front of the food pantry with their radio blaring.

It was those conversations that got me thinking about how I wanted to spend my time and what I would do when I figured it out. Out of all the things I tried, veganism caught my attention for several reasons, so did environmentalism, economic equality, clean drinking water, and human rights.

Generally speaking, all the things that caught my interest fall under human rights. For me human rights means the less fortunate aren’t punished for behavior that is generally acceptable above a certain economic threshold and that the wealthy aren’t forced to fund behavior they disagree with that is not essential to human life. Privacy, self defense, the right to thrive, and the right to live free from violence all fall under the same umbrella.

What I’m doing with my time now is pushing for those causes I believe in in any way possible. I’m not affiliated with any Government agency, charity, or non-profit and I never have been. I also don’t have any partnerships with any corporations or businesses yet although the topic has come up a few times.

As a freelancer working under a corporation that I own, I have a lot of freedom and flexibility. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do for the next twenty years and hoping that more of projects will be centered around the industries I listed above.

I’m really good in all things IT but would like to be able to do more planning and management while still being allowed to keep my skills current with the crew in the trenches. We’ll see how things turn out but at least I have a plan for now.