The Comfort Zone Chronicles

Last night, in rural Iowa, I slept in a camper for the first time. Interestingly, I have not slept in my own bed for 133 days now. I honestly don’t even know what that feels like anymore.

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Sure, I like my 8 hours of sleep each night, but it’s the other 16 hours every day that now have my full and undivided attention.

When I wrote the piece Finding True Freedom  right before I left North Carolina, maybe you wondered what I meant by “true freedom”. It’s a valid question, and one that has many answers.

Two of the main categories that I was referencing were freedom to go see the world and freedom to live outside.

As I publish this piece, I am just leaving Chaska, Minnesota. I am roughly 1,031 miles away from the current bed that I sleep in that, you guessed it, isn’t mine.

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I am also smack in the middle of a weeklong walkabout through the heart of the country, seeing people and places both familiar and brand new.

This is what I love to do. It takes a fair amount to get me truly excited these days, but when it is travel week, I get butterflies deep down reminiscent of piano recital night when I was a kid.

At some point, I had to listen to the butterflies. They were telling me something. “You love the road, Benj. Go.”

That’s all well and good, except I’m not 18 years old with no responsibilities, so I can’t just be gone all the time. If I can do one solid exploration or two smaller ones each month, my tank (and wallet to some extent) remain full.

During the non-travel weeks, I must play outside. Gone are the days of staring out a window on a perfect spring or fall day, wishing and wanting and wondering.

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Do you know who my new best friend is in Biloxi?  The weatherman aka the weather, man (shout out Jay-Z).

I take a peek a couple of times per day to see what the day and week is looking like, and assuming I see sunshine, I start to feel the butterflies again.

Now that Banks is back in school, I can easily spend 4-6 hours at the golf course each day, take a quick break, then spend another couple of hours with he and Christy fishing, crabbing, or God knows what. It just has to be outside. And as you can imagine, most every bar and restaurant down here has ample outdoor seating (and cheap, cold beer).

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Isn’t it hot outside?

Yes, but the heat relieves my aches.

Isn’t it hard to be away sometimes?

Absolutely, but it’s also extremely healthy. Plus, I have to be who I am. Plus, I have a dream (shout out MLK, Jr.).

Every morning I walk the 30 seconds down to the water and watch the sunrise. Every night I walk the 30 seconds down to the water and watch the sunset. Every few weeks I hit the road. I always have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and we are even starting to catch our own food. It ain’t fancy, but it’s exactly what I CONSCIOUSLY signed up for. Because after some real self-reflection, my life priorities shifted, and it would have been foolish to just sit there and stay the same.

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Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com .

Owning My Life Story (and not much else)

“It’s my life, not yours. It’s your life, not theirs.”-abk

(To me)-So, what do you do?

(Me)-A lot, but so there is no confusion, I am, by society’s definition, unemployed.

I’m sorry.

No worries. It’s by choice.

Oh. Where do you live?

Currently, I split time between my in-laws’ Mississippi family farm and a small cabin on the Gulf Coast. Neither are mine.

Sounds tricky.

Everyone does their part. I mow large swaths of grass to pay rent. I am extremely grateful.

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Where’s your stuff?

In these bags.

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All of it?

I have my golf clubs too. And some hats.

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So what do you do to make money?

Nothing currently.

Is your family independently wealthy?

No. Just saved a few bucks over the years and have very little to pay for right now. I have confidence that if I ever desperately need a dollar or two I have the skills to go find a job.

Interesting mindset.

I’m simply fully betting on myself. I’ve got some massive dreams I finally got the courage to pursue.

So what do you do all day?

Whatever I want. But to be specific, play with my son. Read, write, and take photographs. Play golf. Have big family dinners like many cultures do.

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Every day?

Yep. I try to grind, get better, and celebrate every day.

Does that get old?

Silly question.

Do you have a car?

I need it to travel.

Where to?

Anywhere and as often as possible. The more real, the better.

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The more real?

Yeah. I went to Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina last week. Next week I am headed to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Real places.

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You know there are a lot of real problems out there that could use addressing while you are out gallivanting?

I am quite aware of what’s going on out there.  Actually, more aware than ever.  Your perspective changes when you see it with your own two eyes and feel it deep down. Also, I’m not gallivanting.

Okay then smarty pants, what’s the biggest problem that you see?

That people don’t pay enough attention to themselves and what they individually really want and need, not realizing then that their capacity to fulfill their life’s purpose will shoot through the roof. Been there myself, and I see it all the time. So bringing that to light is part of my life’s work, and that’s basically what I focus on all day.

I’ve already got a regular audience of a few hundred people, whom I appreciate very much. I understand that it may take a while for  more people to find me (my fault not theirs) and truly understand what it is I am trying to do.

Audience?

Yeah, anythingbutkhakis.com.

Well I’ll be damned. You ARE doing some work.

I told you. I’m not just gallivanting. I am trying to do something no one has ever done before and help as many people as I can pursue their own dreams along the way.

Anything I can do to encourage open mindedness and free thinking and making your own path to happiness, I am more than willing to do.

Would you wear khakis?

anything but that.

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Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com .

 

The Mississippi Chronicles: Daring to Dream

“Played any golf lately?”-normal conversation starter

There is something inside of me that just wants to play. Until I was 23, that was what I knew, albeit in a different sport. Then it was time to become an adult, when continuing to play was deemed unlikely and borderline irresponsible.

That’s when most people (myself included) become bankers or insurance agents or real estate brokers to the players, or better yet, simply spectators.

As much as I love watching sports, my drive to play is still there. Last year, I (correctly) gave up competitive soccer. The last two years, I ran two marathons more as a symbol of humanity and hope than anything. And my arthritis is still ever present, but the blistering Mississippi heat gives me hours of reprieve each day.

So…during those hours, I golf. Or more simply put, at 37 years old, I gave myself permission to play again.

I have never been much of a self-doubter, but as my personal goals have gotten loftier, sometimes even I wonder what the hell I am doing. I didn’t grow up with the game, I am not getting any professional advice just yet, and golf is a massively complex problem with pitfalls around every corner.

But…I love to solve problems. And damn it, I love the game.

First, though, I had to come off of the 15 day disabled list, nursing a tender back riddled with wonderful memories. On April 17, 2019, the official start of the golfing journey, I was back in business.

Since then (45 days), I have played 23 rounds and hit the range on 12 other days. Many days, I do both.  Most rounds I walk, which is a roughly 6 mile stroll in 95 degree heat (heat index 110).  It is a solitary exercise, with at least 75 percent of my time spent alone. I’ve hit thousands of balls. I use foam rollers and exercise bands and stretch and do core exercises like most people watch Netflix. Equally as important, I do mental exercises to keep my mind sharp and engaged.

Did I mention that I completely revamped my swing? Do you have any idea how annoying it is to take 9 steps backwards before taking that first little step forward? Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to simply breathe in the Mississippi heat, much less focus?  Some days, I don’t want to do the work, but I do. Some days I ask, “Is this really possible?”, and I have to have a brief word with myself. “Do the work. It’s an honest reflection of who you are and who you want to be.”

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For those of you wondering, there is no “prize”. No money. No trophy. No nothing. When I finally allowed myself to go beat hundreds of balls in the immense summer heat day after day with no cash or press clippings or Gucci watch looming, I discovered the real reward.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com .

Eyes Opened

“Be careful what you ask for.”-Lots of people

I will be the first to tell you that I love a fancy hotel, a good wine, a nice suit, beautiful golf courses, and fruity umbrella drinks.

I am well aware that I am on this journey that, at times, appears to be this fantasy life, a vision for freedom and happiness that unfolds a little more in my head and real life every single day.

But my passion, my deep down punch me in the gut passion, couldn’t be further from all of that.

I have always wanted a voice, not for fame or fortune, but because I’m interested in those that don’t have one. I’m interested in those that are invisible or a little unique. Maybe they are lonely or a tad bit lost. Maybe they need a second or third chance.  Maybe they are in pain, physical or otherwise. Maybe they’ve never been introduced to anything other than their current circumstance. Though on the surface you’d never know, deep down, I can certainly relate.

In a roundabout way, I got hooked when I would go to New York City as a teenager with my dad, exploring the city all day while he was in meetings. I was fascinated by the unglamorous neighborhoods and even the grimy areas. Who were these people that were never “seen”? I loved the sights, sounds, and smells of the subway. Out to Queens. Out to the Bronx. Who were these people?

In my early twenties, I read a ton, including this book called Gang Leader for a Day that further stoked my interest in human behavior and interaction.

At 23, my buddy Vinny and I walked down the “wrong” street in Baltimore one night, changing course just in the nick of time to avoid potential disaster.

In my mid-twenties, after making a literal wrong turn on my way to a Hawks game, I watched a man in Atlanta get shot and killed right in front of me.

In my late twenties, I participated in a poverty simulation, walking in someone else’s shoes for a month having to make tough decision after tough decision on extremely limited resources. It stressed me out beyond measure, and it wasn’t even real (for me).

Over the past two years, I have seen and felt deeply on my travels. The forgotten in Evansville, Indiana. The angry in New Orleans. The miscategorized in Tijuana and Mexico City.

About a year ago in rural Mississippi, I drove by this area of decrepit, old wooden shacks that looked like a swift breeze might blow them over. Some lacked roofs.  Some lacked four walls. Surely no human being lived there.

But yes. Yes they did. Entire families. An entire community.

And then, just this week, a sweet, docile black lab showed up on the porch at Christy’s family farm.

“Who is this?” I asked anyone that would listen.

“Just another dog that was likely discarded by their owner. Happens all the time.”

Discarded. Like a piece of trash.

I know. This is what I asked for. To go see the world. The real world. To feel it. To, at an absolute minimum, truly acknowledge it exists.

Because if I drink the fine wine, I best be able to scrap in the dirt.

And maybe, just maybe, finding my own true freedom will finally convince me to go get dirty.  To go help out those whose circumstances may be totally different, but knowing deep down, we are exactly the same.

Have a great week.-Benj

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(If you would like a sweet black lab, please message me.)

The Mississippi Chronicles: Been There, Done That

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It was Wednesday morning around 10:30am, and I was eating spicy ribs and watching the late Anthony Bourdain traipse through Montana. It was the two year anniversary of anything but khakis, and I was thinking about where I had been and where I was going.

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For the first time in my life, I was not in any hurry. I was in no hurry to finish my meal, finish this episode, find a house, or even find a “job”. I had found out who I was and what made me tick, and that was all that mattered.

Previously, I could have written the book on wolfing down lunch, closing the next deal, and speeding through life.  I could proudly email you back before you even hit send.  But now, I am pleased to say, I have completely lost interest in all of that. Which is good, because in Mississippi, nothing moves fast.

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Somewhere in that two year period, after I broke through that extremely uncomfortable stage of growth, it clicked. Flying through life wasn’t nearly as glamorous or enjoyable as it was portrayed, nor was it necessary if I could simply minimize my monthly monetary outflows (secret sauce!).

So I made a short list of things that I really wanted in my life and then set off to make them happen. Not arbitrary things like make more money, get promoted next year, or be happy. No, super specific things like play outside in the sunshine each day, spend quality time with everyone I encounter, have big dinners every night, and so on.

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What didn’t I need? To make this simple…most things. I didn’t need a big paycheck (refer to secret sauce). I didn’t need $2,000 suits. I didn’t need other people’s opinions. I didn’t need a big house. I didn’t need so many creature comforts, although I still have a few.

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Been there, done that, and I was heading down a path towards comfort that I didn’t want to go.  So I scrapped nearly all of it.

It’s not that it was wrong. Certainly not. It just wasn’t right any more. Things do change.

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Now, almost 60 days into Mississippi and two years into abk, all of this, every last bit, is progress. And when the time comes that something out there truly aligns with my vision for the world, I cannot wait to jump on it.

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In the meantime, it’s progress every single day, and man, what a ride.

Have a great week. -Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com .