abk Lifestyle: Redefining the Summer Vacation

“Summer is for falling in love.”- Musician Sarah Kang

A funny thing happened to me the other day while I was talking to my sister on the phone. She and her family were spending a week at the beach, and she was busy telling me all about it. While I was absolutely buzzing for her and knew that she was having a great time, an odd feeling crept inside of me. As someone who loves to travel, for the first time maybe in my life, I felt numb to her location. Summer vacation? Beach week? Something had changed.

Over the past four plus years, I’ve done a complete 180 on roughly 4,297 things (roughly). Of all of those things, most of them were intentional, and most of them I am very pleased with.

I knew I was moving to a place that claimed beautiful weather 10 months out of the year. I knew I was going to a place with a coastal vibe. But until I actually experienced it, I didn’t really understand what all of that meant. Until the lifestyle really started coming together, I didn’t really know what it would look or feel like. But having been deep inside of it for just over two years now, I have a decent idea. The beach is literally across the street. I spend every day at a beautiful golf course, working, playing, or both. A boat ride is a quick text away. A jet ski ride relies merely on calm seas. 80% of the time, the sun is shining.

Recently, summer hit, and the talk of summer vacation cropped up. I was as baffled as I had been in a while. Summer vacation? It feels like I am living in a summer vacation. Long story short, I’m constantly looking it wind speeds, wave heights, and my work schedule to determine which activity wins the day: snapper fishing for Christy, island days for Banks, golfing days for Benj, or all three. It’s as non-traditional as it comes, but that’s the whole damn point. As long as the naps and stretching get done (shout out last week’s piece), it’s a limitless opportunity.

So now that it’s actually time for summer vacation, I guess it’s time for another 180.

The small towns of Wingate, NC and West Point, MS likely do not top anyone’s summer vacation list. But for the next two weeks, they will be my Vegas, Key West, and Pebble Beach, and I am so excited.

The hardest part of moving away from NC, for me, was moving ten hours away from my family and friends. The move was tailored primarily for Christy and her family, secondarily for Banks’ childhood freedom, and I was tasked with making it all work while embarking on an ambitious personal journey of my own. It’s been a hell of an adventure, and it’s been absolutely the correct move, if there is such a thing. But…

It’s time to visit old family and friends. It’s time to celebrate certain major milestones. It’s time to eat Bojangles, Gino’s, and Dave’s Pizza. It’s time to see Coach and watch my big man play on the field I used to roam. I’m so excited. Little ol’ Wingate, NC has me feeling like I’m going to Milan.

With mixed emotions, I have to leave the vacation early to make the nine hour drive to east central Mississippi. I have a smoking hot date with Mossy Oak Golf Club for, I hope, five days. I’m buzzing, but I’m also very nervous, which could easily be the tag line for my last four years of firsts. I’ll be joined by my main man Kris, who will be tasked with keeping me calm and loose. Little ol’ West Point, MS has me feeling like I’m going to Tinseltown.

And then summer vacation will end, and I will return to my regularly scheduled summer vacation. You know, the one where I play golf in shorts on Christmas Eve.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: Naps and Stretching

“…because the easy answer to what they wanted in life was comfort. The great American dream, from my point of view, wasn’t life, liberty, or happiness—it was salary.” -Tom Coyne, A Course Called America

It should be well documented by now that I have a lot of things I want to do with my life. However, I can assure you that these things do not involve the phrase work, then retire in comfort, then do X.

I see my life as fluid. Live until I die. I chucked literal comfort out the window 25+ years ago, but not by my choice. It was, however, my choice to send figurative comfort packing about four short years ago.

One of the main hallmarks of lifestyle design is that, to the extent that it is possible, traditional hours of the day and traditional days of the week don’t matter. Want to do some work at 1am? Want to have some fun on Tuesday midday? Want to go to bed at 8pm on Friday? I’ve been fascinated by this idea for decades.

I called it the Cameron Indoor Effect. If a buddy called and offered Duke basketball tickets for a 6pm tip-off on a random Wednesday, would I drop everything and go? (In my new life, this is called the Augusta National Effect.)

Life could care less about Monday through Friday and 9 to 5. It happens when it happens. It’s been a wonderful and exciting learning for me. When an opportunity presents itself, when life presents itself, we must strongly consider taking the leap. I’ve woken up as early as 3am to do so. I’ve driven 8, 10, 12 hours in a day to do so. It really depends on want to, one of life’s most underrated qualities.

The golf lifestyle that I have chosen has many, many opportunities available, opportunities that can be reimagined and redefined every whichaway to fit my specific desires. Fashion, camaraderie, community, playing, teaching, architecture, travel…I could go on forever. It’s certainly not an uncomfortable lifestyle, but it can be expensive. It can be taxing on the body. Its opportunities can present themselves on odd days or at odd hours. Maybe I have to bob and weave a little. For me, it continues to pose that one burning question. How bad do I want it?

That is the question that drove me to wake up before the crack some twenty months ago to play golf in New Orleans with the man who wrote the book that I quoted above. Said book was just released, and damned if I’m not in it.

That is the question that drove me to send a random message to a prominent golf photographer from California who was in town a couple of weeks ago. After three days of no response followed then by a very last minute response, it was that question that caused me to drive two hours to go meet him for ten minutes. Those ten minutes resulted in our exchanging phone numbers, a 4am wake up call the following day to play golf together, and my featuring in his most recent blog under my new pseudonym, Swampy B.

📸: Patrick Koenig

That is the question that caused me to drive eight hours this past Thursday to Mossy Oak Golf Club, site of my first real tournament in three weeks time, to do a little homework. Up at 6am. Home by dark. Investment in the life I am trying to design.

So maybe you are wondering about the title?

Yesterday was Golf Day 598. My life has changed dramatically, obviously. Some days I only get 4-6 hours of sleep. Some days I exercise for 6-8 hours. Some days I’m on my feet for 12 hours. My elbows and forearms have lived three lifetimes.

So I take naps, and I stretch constantly. It’s the only way any of this remotely works.

Because as glamorous as the lifestyle looks, as lucky as I know I am, as fun and rewarding as it can be, it’s rarely ever comfortable. And because it’s not comfortable, I get the beautiful opportunity every day to ask myself, How bad do I want it?

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Golf: Two Lifetimes

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” -the late Arnold Palmer

It happened on St. Patrick’s Day, 2019. Using official golf metrics, on the chilly morning of Sunday, March 17, I opened my long awaited round at the legendary Pinehurst # 2 by 8-putting the first green en route to an opening hole 11 on the scorecard. If you want to know the proper definition of opening hole jitters, this would probably do the trick.

As an unofficial 14 handicapper who averaged a score of 93 or thereabouts per round, I shot a 109 that day, salvaging my only ounce of pride remaining by one-putting the 18th hole in true Payne Stewart fashion.

As I recounted the day in my mind as I drove out of this wonderful golf village, I was officially sick of not knowing how to actually play golf. I had waited 36+ years to play this jewel which was some two hours from my (now previous) home in Charlotte, NC. I forked over an exorbitant amount of money that, in retrospect, turned out to be a decent dollar to final score ratio. (Don’t get me wrong, the overall experience was fantastic.)

But as a former collegiate soccer All-American whose competition standards remained sky high, I shat the bed that day. And I had had enough.

I had already agreed to move with my family to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in five days. I had already offered my resignation from my commercial banking job in Charlotte. I had already sold my house and was living who knows where with who knows whom. So why wouldn’t I decide that after shooting the worst round of golf in recent memory, I was going to commit my life to getting good at golf for the foreseeable future? And not just getting better. Getting good. And not just getting good. Getting really good.

So five days later, I arrived in Mississippi homeless and jobless, and after a few weeks of rest and rehab for back soreness and fatigue, my dream officially began.

It is 26 months later, and I play golf every day. For all intents and purposes, I’ve played golf every day for the past 25 months. I’ve gotten better. A lot better. Some might say I’ve gotten good. Some even really good. I like to stick with I’ve gotten a lot better, because good is so hard to define.

I have a feeling, though, that it is going to be defined for me in 26 days as I tee it up for my first real tournament, the Mississippi State Amateur. I’m proud of myself for having the courage to play in it, to be honest. The field is loaded with ex college studs, big time amateur studs, and at least one wandering wannabe. By every metric available, I should get the shit kicked out of me. But then again, by every metric available, I shouldn’t be in southern Mississippi playing golf every day.

Currently, I’m playing to a 1.2 handicap with an average score of 75.5. To the average joe, that’s smoking. To a really, really good golfer, I need to shave five more strokes off. And you know what, I know that. And you know what else, I’ve tried. For nearly 600 days and 3,000 focused hours. But when you get down to that low to mid 70s range, the game gets really, really hard.

Especially for a knucklehead that only really started to get serious about and understand the game at the ripe old age of 37. I might as well be one of these kid’s grandpa.

The prize for winning this tournament is an automatic spot in the PGA Tour event that’s held in Jackson, Mississippi each year. I’m a massive dreamer, I’m a massive doer, and I have massive self-belief in certain things, but I’m also a realist. I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready to win.

But I’m ready to start, and I’m finally ready to compete. I need to know what all this looks and feels like. How my heart beats. How my forearms feel over an important putt. How nervous I might be on that opening tee shot.

I have my realistic sights set on 2024, so I have to keep that in perspective. That’s three more years to take five strokes off, body willing.

So for this tourney, I really only have a few things to tell myself. You’ve done the work. Do your best. Stay patient. Dial in. And for the love of God, don’t give up on yourself.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Travel: Hot Dogs and Horses

If you ever come to my house at The End of the Earth, Mississippi, you will know when you have arrived. Your GPS will look like you are driving through water. If you keep going straight, you will drive into a swamp. Unless you hit a tree first, of course. If you turn right, you have about four seconds until you…

Given the location, it’s likely been a long voyage for you to get there. So just look left and exhale. Freedom and creativity rule the roost. You’ll feel it as soon as you step out of the car. You have arrived.

Getting to Far West Texas is roughly the same. At an absolute minimum, it’s a three hour drive from anywhere. For my buddy and abk supporter, Kris, and me, two days. TWO DAYS. But anything but khakis ®️ turned four last Saturday, so an epic abk adventure was in order.

Starting from my house at roughly sea level, we eventually reached almost 8,000 feet on an off-road trail in Big Bend National Park. In Marfa, we experienced the largest hail storm I have ever seen, and twelve hours later it was 104 degrees just a couple hours south. It’s a scruffy, vast terrain, and if you find yourself there, it is not by accident. At our campground, I could have hit a pitching wedge into Mexico, and I thought about it, but then I thought better of it.

Numerous folks have asked me, Why Far West Texas? They might as well be asking, Why coastal Mississippi? Why this specific location? Why to any of the crazy places I have visited? The lazy answer is, why not. The more thoughtful answer is creativity, variety, and freedom.

Marfa, Texas is this tiny town, nay intersection, in the middle of freaking nowhere. Roughly 2,000 people live there. It is close to nothing. But somehow, there is this unbelievable international art presence and creative vibe all over town.

I mean, I get it. I’m sure Mississippi is not at the top of any creativity lists, but when I step outside my front door, that feeling I feel begs to differ. I’ve felt it in Cody, Wyoming; Hurricane, Utah; Ocean Springs, Mississippi; and now Marfa, Texas (among others).

Roughly two hours south, Big Bend National Park looms large along the Mexico border. It’s not necessarily a creative place, but it reeks of freedom and variety. Nobody says you can’t do this, you can’t do that, mainly because for hours on end you may not see another human being. Roadrunners? Yes. Mountains? Yes. Desert? Yes. Humans? Maybe not.

The biggest drama that we encountered along the trip was the wildly unpredictable weather. Otherwise, no soap operas. No complications. Just nature. On the way home, my buddy, Kris, and I discussed the coolest moments that happened (or didn’t happen). I was hoping to get a cool tattoo in Marfa involving a skull, a cowboy hat, and golf clubs, but they couldn’t fit me in. We got rained out trying to play golf in Austin with my buddy Marcus on the way home.

But of the things that did happen, our Top 5 Moments were unanimous. In reverse order:

1. The food and drink at local Marfa joint Al Campo. The lemon chicken over sweet potato mash was banging.

2. Sunset in the desert.

3. Talking with the locals at the golf course during the hailstorm. They were a little unsure of us Voodoo foreigners at first, but they ended up buying us each a beer.

4. Grilling out hot dogs at the camp site while wild horses grazed close by.

5. Stargazing and planet gazing under the vast, dark, unpolluted West Texas skies, and then having a coyote come visit just before heading to bed.

Nothing fancy. Just life.

So why West Texas? Why this? Why that? Surely, after 4 years and 202 articles, it has become crystal clear.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Building a Perfectly Imperfect Foundation: Four Years of No Days Off

“If you are willing to drop the ideas, philosophies, and belief systems you are currently attached to, you can re-create your entire life with the very next moment.”-Inner Management, Sadhguru

In an effort to take full charge of my life and maximize the possibilities of my entire existence, over the past 1,461 days, I decided to go full bore. If I found something that interested me, I pursued it. If I felt a curiosity, I peeked around the corner. If a self-made limit needed to be pushed, I pushed it. If some PC BS needed to be squashed, I squashed it. If I felt fear, I tried to overcome it. If I felt nervous, I tried to understand why. If an idea, philosophy, or belief system needed to be dropped, I dropped it. If I encountered someone who had the real want to to get better, I took a real interest. If a below-the-surface personal issue needed to be worked on, I got to work.

I went full bore, and I engaged with life in its entirety. No specific category. No specific agenda. Just life. The limitless journey. The whole creative process.

Chapter 1 of anything but khakis®️started May 15, 2017 from the white sand of Destin, Florida. Chapter 5 began May 15, 2021 from the Far West Texas creative outpost of Marfa, TX. In between, I did a lot, and I did it every day. I wrote exactly 200 articles about what I did, saw, thought, and felt. You might have read one or 200 of them. I hope something, anything, resonated just a little.

abk is about a lot of things, but at the heart of it is the human journey to get better. Not perfect, but better. Massive difference.

On the surface, there was a literal travel journey that saw me log hundreds of thousands of miles to who knows where. There was and is a golf journey that thoroughly re-engaged me with life. There were relationship journeys, a beautiful parenting journey, a building this unique lifestyle journey. Most important was the often ignored journey of self.

My previous personal poison was perfectionism (PPPP), versus just living. I expected it of myself always. I expected it of others sometimes. It may sound like an admirable aspiration, but I can assure you it is no way to attempt life. To self, it is unattainable. To others, it can be annoying, I’m sure.

This journey of trial and error, numerous life lessons, and new experiences has helped. Making left turns has humbled me. Trying to build abk has humbled me. Learning how to play golf well has humbled me. Starting over has humbled me.

One day, my son got mad at something and started yelling. I calmly asked him if he ever heard daddy yelling. He immediately replied, “yes, but only at yourself, at the golf course”. That humbled me.

I’ve written extensively about my efforts to relax and just live. To not necessarily lower my standards, no. Maybe even raise them in some circumstances. But to be nicer to myself if I don’t meet my own lofty demands or if The Universe has other plans for me. That’s been a very freeing journey.

To be intense and relaxed at the same time, consistently, is a personal aspiration. To be physically fit, intellectually sharp, more emotionally available, and full of positive energy. To experience joy in all of these processes instead of seeking perfection. It’s okay to be human. It’s good to be human.

I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people. Hundreds, if not more. It’s ironic how many wonderful people who are on their own journeys have been a huge part of this journey of self. My hope is that abk helped you a little also.

I turned 39 yesterday, and Chapters 1-4 are now complete. Chapter 5 is going to be very, very different. But I like different. It’s how I experience life. I’m playing in my first real, serious golf tournament in June, I start a new golf job in July where I have so much I want to do, and I’m going to be a father again (Girl Power!) in September.

As I have been advised by my boss/teacher, I can take this wherever I want to take it, as far as I want to take it. It’s on me to own it. #abk

I end Chapters 1-4 and begin Chapter 5 with three of my favorite learnings from the journey so far.

1. My whole life experience revolves around creativity, variety, and freedom. Those three things cannot be stifled. They must thrive. It’s literally who I am.

2. Living outside, in nature, every single day is a completely different existence from constantly being inside.

3. And in the greatest abk irony in the history of abk ironies…though having children in theory limits freedom, I have found parenting with Christy (based heavily on anti-perfectionism and freedom) to be my most favorite thing ever. It took a minute, but the last 3-4 years have been priceless. The car rides to and from school, the soccer games, the days at the golf course, the Pelicans games, the bracelet making, the Friday night camp outs, the teaching, the learning, the love.

What’s next? Well, I don’t know. But as the old saying goes, why go and see the movie if you already know the ending?

Far West Texas recap coming Sunday.-Benj

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The Soul of abk

One of the pitfalls of the outdoor lifestyle, especially as it gets warmer here in The Deep South, is the presence of potentially dangerous animals. The gators, for whatever reason, don’t really phase me. In fact, they fascinate me. But the snakes, oh, the snakes. Copperheads and cottonmouths, namely. They just blend right in.

A week ago Saturday, I was out on the course playing 18 at sunset. I played the back 9 first and then played holes 1, 2, and 3. As I drove from 3 green to 4 tee, something grabbed my attention. Just on the cart path, the end of a snake’s tail peeked out at me. Just off the cart path, the remainder of the rather thick, venomous snake blended right in.

I’m not a big fan of horsing around with snakes, but something inside of me told me I needed to handle the situation. The snake was nestled right around a bend, right where walkers might walk, camouflaged completely. I couldn’t take the chance that another person might encounter it. At a minimum, I needed to get this joker back into the woods just to my left. So I grabbed a log, some sticks, and some pine combs, but instead of me encouraging the snake to wiggle back into the woods, I just pissed it off. It started striking at me, so I had to punt and go to plan B.

I hopped in my cart, retracing my steps back to the clubhouse so that if any other players were nearby, I could warn them. Back at the clubhouse, I found a couple of guys who were informally trained aka not terrified of snakes, and they came and helped me out.

Long story short, the situation got handled, I finished my round, and I dreamed of snakes for the next three nights (only joking). And then, remarkably, this happened…

When I was 23 years old, I found myself looking for a furry companion who, how shall I say it, shared the same zest for life as me. After careful consideration, I got Becks, a newborn Jack Russell terrier, who ate zest for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (She also ate everyone else’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I digress.)

From the start, she was my spirit animal. She loved life, and she craved freedom. She also drove me nuts, but in a I wouldn’t have it any other way kind of way. She didn’t listen to a damn thing. From Day 1, she was on her own mission, a mission that was bred deep inside of her, and I quietly admired that.

She listened so little that we had to put an electric fence in the yard, but that didn’t matter to her. I keenly remember one day (or a thousand days) where she bolted down the street, getting shocked the entire way. She’d be gone for 15 or 20 minutes, and then she’d return home, neck bright red, but happy as a clam.

For the past however many years, I’ve told people that when it’s her time, she will inevitably die at the hands of another animal, likely a snake, which makes this last bit all the more funny (don’t worry, she didn’t die).

Since the move to Mississippi, Becks has fought raccoons, armadillos, and God knows what. A couple of weeks ago, she fought, well, God knows what.

While we were in South Florida, she stayed at The Farm, where freedom reigns supreme. When we returned and she came home, she was the same old Becks, but with a big grapefruit on one side. I didn’t think anything of it. I never do with her. She’s lived nine lives plus some. But a couple of days later, the grapefruit burst, so Christy took her to the vet.

I wish I had been there when the vet examined her and said, She has been bit by something. Likely a non-venomous snake. Three times. But she’s fine. I can see it happening. The snake bites. Becks keeps at it. The snake bites. Becks keeps at it. The snake bites. Becks finally says screw this and walks away.

I called my parents. They started cracking up. I called my sister. She started howling. I’m giggling just thinking about it. Ol’ Becks. Nearly 16 years old. I’ve got her living to at least 20, easy. She’s just got that zest for life.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Two Walks to Remember

“There is no place on earth even remotely like New Orleans.”- the late Anthony Bourdain

This week’s piece has the chance to be the worst one I’ve ever written. Out of respect and privacy for the people involved (some quite high profile) along with the ever fluid Covid protocols, many details will remain only in my memory. But I’ll do my best to tell a good story.

Also, sometimes you just get lucky. Maybe my curiosity and desire to LIVE help a little, but truthfully, sometimes you just get lucky.

My job as a walking scorer at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week was to walk inside the ropes with my assigned players, providing real-time scoring that is disseminated all over the world. Also, if there was any weird situation that the players encountered out on the course, I was their lifeline to central command.

I had three must-do’s. Be accurate. Be timely. Be invisible. The first two? No problem. The last one? Easier said then done.

To try and blend in, I dressed in the mandatory uniform, but…

One of my professionals in Wednesday’s much more laid back Pro-Am grew up roughly an hour away from where I did. This, combined with him being known as one of the friendliest players on tour, provided an easy opening for me to simply say hello. After he hit his opening tee shot, we found ourselves walking close to each other, so I took the opportunity to say hello and tell him where I was born and raised (shout out Wingate). I cannot print what he said back to me, but I can tell you that it made me laugh out loud. I can also tell you that it began a wonderful conversation that ended about six hours later. (Great job being invisible, Benj.)

He asked me why I left Charlotte, so I told him. We talked about people we both knew and some of our favorite restaurants. We talked Carolina Panthers. The whole group talked golf, soccer, and our kids.

Soon enough, the pranks started. Then came the jokes. The players and caddies were kind enough to let me in on all of it. Before the end of the day, I don’t think a magician could have made me invisible.

On Thursday’s first day of competition, it was the complete opposite. Different players. Different personalities. Everyone was cordial. Everyone was focused. I was invisible, which after Wednesday, I kind of liked. I was asked to do a job, so I did it.

Over the two days, I was able to be a fan for a couple of hours, roaming the course, the range, and the practice area taking it all in. I interacted closely with six professionals and six caddies. All of them were cordial, 70% were nice, and 40% were downright awesome!

Four of the players were ranked as one of the best 85 golfers on this planet, and therein lied my focus. As amazing and fun and lucky and whatever else was that I experienced, especially on Wednesday, I was there to learn. That’s why I threw my name in the hat. To watch and listen (and even ask a few questions) to decipher why each one was a Top 85 player on Planet Earth.

At the end of each round, I received kind words, fist bumps, a signed ball, or a signed glove (I did not request these). I got a crazy cool lifetime memory. But most important for me along my personal golf journey, I saw and heard what details were a given, really didn’t matter, and really freaking did. To the best players in the world.

It was like learning a new language in 48 hours.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: A Taste of the Deep South

Last Tuesday evening, the storm came out of nowhere. I was out on the course playing and helping another player, and we had been delayed earlier due to lightning, but something started to feel downright bizarre. All of a sudden, an intense four club wind began that didn’t stop until Thursday. 40+ mph here. 90+ mph off the coast, I read. Some how, some way, a line of violent electric storms that didn’t stop until Saturday night decided to appear.

In less than 24 hours, my parents were set to arrive from North Carolina, and they were ready to experience this unique outdoor lifestyle I had been busy designing from afar.

Well, there’s always next year.

When the golf outings and soccer games were inevitably cancelled, we did what you are supposed to do in the Deep South: eat. We ate and ate and ate. We visited. We chatted. My dad and I snuck in some wet chips and putts. My mom played Super Mario Bros., much to my delight. And then we ate some more.

Instead of trying to describe the meals, this week, I’ll simply show a few pictures and let your imagination and taste buds do the writing for me.

On the last night, everyone gathered for a big dinner out, and an interesting thing happened. When my father has a meal that is exceptionally good (both service and food), it has the same effect as some other person drinking a good bottle of wine. He subtly gets very happy, and the stories start flowing. (He was a college professor for decades, so he has some good ones.) That was really fun, and then we all said our goodbyes.

As we said goodbye, just for the hell of it, I glanced at next week’s weather forecast and just smirked. Perfect weather, as usual.

Life is absolutely hilarious.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Travel: That Trial and Error Lifestyle

Last week, I wrote about worlds. Throughout the past four years, I’ve written extensively about my travels, hidden gems along the way, and happy places. Places that just hit me a little differently deep down. Places that I will jump at to experience over and over. Places that provide a quite particular and personal experience.

How have I found these experiences? The only way that I know how…brochures! (Ha! Just kidding.) I just go. I go and find them. I go and feel the vibe personally. The exploration is half the battle.

Nestled just south of the mega mansions in America’s third wealthiest zip code is a half mile swath of land, if that, that is home to one of my new favorite places. Two of my new favorite places, to be precise: the small public beach run by the Town of Palm Beach, Florida, and the ridiculously beautiful Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course, also owned by the town.

In the land of billionaires and private beaches, we enjoyed this little public nook, two hour free parking and all. Christy, Banks, and I hung out there on a sunny Thursday amidst a smattering of scantily clad women and men. (It is South Florida, baby!). It was just a vibe, really. Beautiful blue water. Boats zipping by. Not a care in the world.

But it was Saturday at the beach that really hit deep. Christy stayed home, as Banks and I braved the windy day. As we wandered out for a more adventurous boys day, the sea breeze had the waves crashing. I asked Banks if he was ready, and he asked ready for what? To ride your first wave, son. Shaking with excitement, he said he was ready. We tried, we failed. We tried, we failed. And then with me a mere feet away, a big one got him, and he somersaulted and twisted his way back to shore. Proud as can be and laughing uncontrollably, I shuffled to shore to congratulate him as he stood up. Unsure of what had just happened, he looked at me shocked. I gave him a high five, told him great job, and asked if he was okay. After a brief confused second, he started shaking with excitement again, ready for round two (and three and four).

I had driven past the golf course a couple of years ago, musing to myself that it looked quite beautiful. Fast forward to Thursday after the beach, and it was time for my maiden voyage. Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, the course is prime property. Three holes play along the waterway, three holes play along the ocean, and the others have various views that might bring you to your knees. I was in love, straightaway. Two near holes in one, four birdies, and even par on my first 18 made it even better.

But there was time for more. 9 more until a ravishing sunset hit, and then another 27 Saturday night in already worn clothes and almost comical wind. Happy places could care less about details like that, so why should I?

I’d like to shout out Aunt Robin aka Rockin’ Robin (tweet, tweet) for hosting such a beautiful Spring Break 2021. There are so many great memories: local food, drink, Miami, the safari, etc.

What could have been better?

Well, I tried a golf course on Friday that was absolutely terrible, so that was a miss. (I did, however, play with a couple of cool dudes.) The restaurant, al Fresco, that was recommended by literally everyone I met was completely booked by the time I called, so that was a miss. And it would have been awesome to have the jet ski down there, zigging and zagging amongst the yachts and speedboats of the rich and famous, so that was a miss.

But the cool thing about happy places is that they have a way of inviting you back. To repeat those things that you love to do, and to correct those things that you might have missed.

Next month, I’m headed to West Texas to an area I know little to nothing about. (I’m still waiting on the brochure in the mail 🤦🏽‍♂️.). And I have a feeling, just a little gut feeling, that it’s going to hit hard too. The freedom of wide open spaces is an exploration invitation that I have a difficult time passing up.

Have a great week.-Benj

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A(bk) Seeker’s World: Where Anything is Possible

As much as I despise limiting categories, I am equally enamored with limitless worlds.

Where I am now, both externally and internally, literally and figuratively, is because I discovered or was introduced to worlds that I did not know previously existed. To a seeker like me, getting here is both just the beginning and also a massive success.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi? Never heard of it.

Jet skiing on random Wednesdays? Get out of here.

Friday nights in New Orleans? Stop it.

Shooting under par, even par, or just over par nearly every time out? Seriously, stop it.

Running two marathons with serious arthritis? No way!

Playing golf essentially 549 days straight? Impossible.

Not sleeping in my own bed for two years straight? Maniac!

Writing 196 articles about my ongoing seeking and unorthodox lifestyle? 👀

Golfing in Tijuana? Hitchhiking in Iceland? Highly unlikely.

Unlearning everything, then consciously, thoughtfully reconsidering everything.

Learning the importance of using my unique view on life to help others.

Learning how to be a father.

Learning the importance of feelings.

Learning how to re-center my life’s priorities daily, sometimes more.

Learning how to relax. (A little.)

Learning how to use discomfort and uncertainty for extreme personal growth and to build the lifestyle I didn’t know could actually exist.

Learning to be happy.

Learning courage, and how to combat fear.

Learning to live.

Every day, I see or hear someone (or lots of someones) who, it’s obvious, has never been thoroughly introduced to another world. (Contrastingly, I also interact with tons of people who introduce ME to their many interesting worlds!)

As someone who has been lucky enough to explore thousands of worlds, I am aware of the growth, potential, and open mindedness that each new world can unlock.

At abk, I am not trying to change anybody. No, no, no. Hell, I couldn’t if I tried. That’s on each individual person to own his or her life story. What I am trying to show (introduce) are the endless worlds, possibilities, and potential that actually exist out there, should we ever choose to stop placing limits on ourselves.

For me personally, this involves constant reinvention each time I get more clarity along my journey.

I remember running that first NYC Marathon lifetimes ago, thinking I was busting down some proverbial wall. A young man with ankylosing spondylitis pounding and pounding when he shouldn’t be. Doing something that he really shouldn’t be able to do. And then I saw the runner who couldn’t see, the participant with only one leg, the participant with no legs…

And that day, I was introduced to a new world. I remember saying to myself, When you think you are pushing your limits, Benj, you are not even close. You are just scratching the surface.

And now, four years on, it’s just my way of life.

Have a great week.-Benj

Join the abk community!

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis, @abkgolf, and now @anythingbutkhakisphotography.

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