At age 26, I was a Captain in the world’s most powerful military, the US Air Force.
… and I was completely miserable.
I was dead inside. I could not really laugh. I surely could not cry. I could not feel my life.
In late winter 2001, just 9 months before 9/11, I left the Air Force and – when all my military buddies were taking high-paying jobs with military contractors – I gave my things away and went walkabout into the world.
Just 3 weeks into my journey, late one evening while hitchhiking through northern Wales en route to wherever, I experienced a massive emotional meltdown in an old phone booth. My entire body shook heavily with deep tearful sobs as the pain I had buried so long beneath a mask of perfection ruptured like an earthquake from my core. I couldn’t go back to my old life, but I had no idea where else to go.
I felt utterly lost. I had no idea who I was.
Over the next few years, I would desperately seek to connect with my life as I backpacked across Europe, the Middle East, India and Australia.
I spent 3 months living with Egyptians in Cairo who adopted me into their lives as their own brother and son. They stuffed me so full of breads and meat and surely-tainted water from their beloved Nile that I eventually got dysentery and pray for a quick death. I was also bizarrely sexually accosted at the Pyramids in Egypt … twice. A short time later, I lived with a comically vain “holy man” in southern India who tried to have me committed to an Ayurveda Hospital.