The Second Wingtip Just Dropped!

So I was driving to meet my biggest client this morning when I had a sudden revelation: I’m done.

I’m done spending $4 a gallon to fill up my crappy VW Jetta so that I can drive a full hour to a place I don’t want to be.  I’m done working my ass off to make just enough money to ensure that I’ll never really get ahead.  I’m done using my talent to pad the bank accounts of people who seem to have almost no practical skills of their own.  I’m done listening to Republicans and Democrats argue with earplugs in.  I’m done feeling bad about my divorces, sad about my foreclosure, and embarrassed about my bankruptcy.  I’m done worrying about what the charlatans on Wall Street have in mind for what’s left of my 401(k).  I’m even done wondering why the “k” is in parentheses.

Seriously, stick a fork in me.

My name is John Brighton and I am the Creative Director of an advertising agency.  I plan to fix this in the very near future.

You see, as a modern day “Mad Man” it is my job to create perfect little worlds in the form of television spots.  In most of these worlds families are fully functional, businesses care about people, and everyone has a $400 haircut.  Looking back on my 25 year career, I now realize that I’ve been part of the problem all along.  No wonder I’m about to throw it all away on the off chance that there’s something real out there.

In a nutshell, my plan is this:

• Sell our old Jeep Wrangler (anyone?)

• Use the money to take my girlfriend on a two week scouting trip of Latin America

• Come home and tell my 82-year-old father that he’s moving to our chosen destination with us (this will be humorous)

• Quit my job and finally, once-and-for-all, decline both partnership opportunities I have received from competing agencies

• Drain my 401(k), (sorry Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, I’m done!) pay the penalties and taxes, and secure the remaining $100,000 or so

• Sell the remainder of my stuff and–let’s face it–put my girlfriend’s stuff in storage

• Move to a beautifully imperfect Latin American country with nothing but my girlfriend, my dad, the clothes on our backs, our laptops, and about 25 words of Spanish between the three of us

• Learn the language, embrace the culture, sleep in the hammock

• And find a sustainable source of income that will keep us from slinking back to the States for a minimum of ten years

This is ridiculous.  Society won’t like it.  But it should make for some pretty good reading over the next weeks, months and–if I have anything to say about it–years.  Maybe you’d like to join us some day.  Or maybe you just can’t make yourself turn away from this obvious train wreck.  Whatever your reason for coming back to this blog, I’m excited to take you along.  Please be sure to share your email address so that I can keep you updated along the way.

Oh, and by the way, when I finally got to that meeting this morning (five minutes late) my revelation had already managed to become visibly apparent.  The client took one look at my face and said, “You look like the cat who ate the canary!”

Who knew being done would feel like just getting started.

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19 thoughts on “The Second Wingtip Just Dropped!

  1. You are an inspiration, to all of us from so called “First World” who are afraid to live and are spending their lives in quiet desperation…I wasn’t born in the First World, but came to live there,
    it took me years to finally understand it wasn’t live I wanted. You go, man !

    • Thanks, Aura, I’m glad you’re getting something from the blog. But I’ve still got a whole lot of following through to do before I get to be called an inspiration! It’s definitely a grinding process, but I’m convinced it will all be worth it by sometime in October.

  2. keep me informed. i have been thinking about doing this for a couple of years. dont have the “guts” yet.

  3. that’s pretty cool that you’re taking your 82-year-old dad along. We (Norm and Judy) are almost ready to retire and would like to get out of here, but the kids and grandkids are all here, so we’ll see. Might just be a dream. Will be interested to read about your experiences.

    • Diana has four kids plus grandkids as well. I know she struggles with this same question. On the one side she’s got a 48 year old childless man telling her that she’s given enough, and that it’s time to do something for herself. On the other, she has all those maternal instincts rising to the surface as we get closer to our fall moving date. I understand just enough to know that I can’t possibly understand. Still, we talk about things like coming back for a full month of real quality time each summer, the day when/if we’ll be able to have them come down and visit, all the ways the Internet has made communication and sharing possible, etc. But in the end I realize that kids are the one subject I am supremely unqualified to advise her on. Like you, she is having to find her own peace with the decision.

  4. WOW! How great for you! Actually, I am there too. Literally. My wife and I will be doing an exploratory the first 2 weeks of August also….and it’s only a few days away! My wife isn’t there yet, but I am. I hope the trip charms her. I loved the insight to what drove you to “give it all away”.
    If we go, I will keep a place in the states, and come back here 3 or so months a year. We will be staying in Puerto Cana for a week, and plan to travel up the the coast to the Jama area. Anyways, Hope it ends up being everything you want it to be! By chance, are you going to be at the International Living seminar?

    • We are definitely planning to check out Jama and as many other small coastal towns as possible while we’re there. Good luck convincing Tina. The idea of going to anything with the word “seminar” in it while we’re down there makes my palms sweat. You can send me the notes though!

      • Hey,

        Looked at Jama. Really a sleepy town, with a US type subdivision or two. Pretty much North Coast. Will be happening in 7-10 years.

        Ed & Tina

    • Hey Ed & Tina, if you stumble on anything awesome that is not to be missed while we’re down there, shoot me a comment! We’ll be down the week after you arrive, plus the following week. Maybe we grab a beer or something if paths cross. Bon voyage!

      • John,
        Absolutely we will. I would love to get together and “break bread” and have a few cold ones with you. I will message you on this site, if you wish, and maybe we can cross paths. Maybe Bahia or Crucita…….

        Regards,

        Ed

  5. Congrats!! I have no idea if you have made it to Latin America but I too was fed up with the rat race and literally quit the job, sell everything, pack up 2 bags, the dog and headed off to Honduras. It has been scary at times but I DO NOT regret my decision, I LOVE LIFE again and strongly suggest getting on a plane ASAP! Best of luck, Krystal

    • That’s awesome, Krystal. We are still aiming for mid-October. What area in Honduras? We looked very seriously at Tela for a while. Then Ecuador kind of grabbed us. And of course there are areas of Mexico that we’ve been interested in for years. Why did you choose Honduras?

    • Krystal,

      So incredibly jealous! Hubby and I were in Honduras in April. We LOVED it!! We sat on the beach drinking a $1 local beer, and said “we have to live here!” We put it to rest for a little while because we just made a move from California to Virginia early last year. No regrets there either, we never could have saved money for a crazy move while living in CA. We ask ourselves daily what we are doing in the States. High taxes, no access to health care (our premium was $1,100 so we got rid of it and nothing cheaper will cover us because of a pre-existing condition that is now fixed!), broken government, and as you stated, the rat race that we can no longer contend with. Do you mind us asking how old you are? We are 34 and 39. Have some money saved and aren’t afraid to do something that others consider crazy (like whisk ourselves off to Latin American). We own a business in the States that we can always come back to, no problem, if we had to. It’s a business we could carry over into Latin America if we wanted to. Although, it hurts to think about having to come back to the U.S.! We’re done with it!! Mentally, we’re totally checked out.

      Hope you’ll see this message! Best of luck to everyone here!

      Stephanie

  6. I am in the process of picking a place to escape from the USA. I did the same thing from England in 1973 -this place is reminding me of those times. Can you REALLY spend $400 on just a haircut? Thats just-messed up!

  7. John, stumbled onto your blog as the webmaster for Expat Wisdom, Johnny Mueller’s website, and wanted to say TWO HUGE THUMBS UP for your dedication and perseverance to make your dreams happen!

    Based on your back story, you enjoy a documentary my family and I were featured in last year “I’m Fine Thanks” (view the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNDZgvne_5k ) about folk’s making conscious choices to live their dreams, NOT the “American” dream…we did it once in country, our next will be to Latin America within the year!

  8. John, great blog! I even checked out the link for “I’m Fine, Thanks.” I have had enough of the American dream, am 30 yrs old, and want to explore Latin America, for a landing spot. Outside of the U.S., I’ve only been to Mexico once. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Garet, if you can pull it off at age 30, my advice is to run, don’t walk! Like anything that’s really worth doing in life, my biggest regret is that I didn’t do it earlier. I’m coming up on 50 years old. You will be too about a minute from now.

  9. John – My wife and I stumbled upon your blog last night while I was doing a search on Loreto. You are our new hero!!! Our plan is to move out of the country, for pretty much the same reasons as you’ve described, within the next few years. We were in Puerto Penasco last month, and plan to visit Loreto next year. Although we have yet to read more than this page, and your description of your first week heading to Loreto, it has us even more excited. Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts, and following your adventures.

    Perhaps when we are in Loreto next year we can take you out for a cerveza….

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