I came up with a saying about three-months-ago while daydreaming down some country road… working hard shouldn’t be hard work.
It shouldn’t be hard work to motivate myself to work hard, and it shouldn’t be for you either. We all make excuses (almost entirely related to money, power, possessions, self-image and fear) to justify doing things we don’t love.
I put money ahead of everything for exactly one year in 2008. I needed to do that… I needed to know how empty a full bank account can feel. In 2009, I decided money wasn’t going to be a goal of mine anymore.
On the road this year, I spent zero time selling myself and my work. I had no income. I strove for complete idealistic purity… freedom to roam with my ears and eyes and nose open, and my camera and pen and notebook close by. Those possessions were all that mattered to me and all that still do.
I developed a fire escape plan in case my van went up in flames. I would grab just my notebooks and my two hard drives with photos. I have them stacked up, ready to go, always. I would stand and watch the blaze and say Donnie, you’ve had an incredible run, brother. Then I would turn around, put my thumb out and find the next thing.
I’ve joked with people that there are two things that could stop my travels… a girl or going broke.
Of all my expenses (and there aren’t many), gas was the one I worried about making me broke. I hypothesized I would spend about $600 per month on gas, but I really had no idea when I started.
So I started this little scratch sheet in April of 2013 to calculate my monthly gas expenditures. I thought there was no chance it would last… I would lose it, or spill coffee on it or eventually say fuck it, who cares about keeping track of gas money anyway.
But it turned out differently. This piece of paper rode shotgun with me for a year, clipped neatly under my tire pressure gauge. And I didn’t end up saying Fuck it 'til I got to Canada and gas was $6-8 per gallon.
I enjoyed unclipping this paper and documenting exactly how much my bank account was shrinking and how little it really mattered. I enjoyed writing down each town name (wish I would’ve started from the beginning), and I enjoyed scanning over the previous towns. Every now and then, I’d see a name from way back and a memory would flash in from that time and place. I’d smile or laugh or say man, those pancakes at the Perkins in Butte were just what I needed that day.
I still remember what the sky looked like and how I felt at each of these gas stations. What started off as a way to track gas expenses became an unfolding blueprint of a year on the Road.
This little sheet represents a year of my life. It represents a year of work and a year of freedom from money… a year that has forever changed what my eyes see when they open in the morning.
When people ask me how much I spent on gas last year, I know. $6,229.34… just about $520 per month.
But fuck it, who cares about keeping track of gas money anyway.