Posts Tagged ‘epiphany’

Ontheroad1 chucking it all

Click here to access all entries in Douglas Simonson’s “On the Road” Series

I made a huge change in my life when I was 19 and I left Nebraska to move to Hawaii.

It was the best decision of my life.

Now, over 40 years later, I’m about to make a change that is almost that big.

I’m chucking it all and going on the road.


The view from my Waikiki living room.

I’ve spent over 40 years in Hawaii and I have loved living here. I’ve loved making a career here as an artist of the male nude, being able to live in Hawaii and still have collectors all over the world. I especially loved the change I made 3 years ago, when I bought an apartment (my first time as a homeowner) in Waikiki. I loved the apartment, and I loved living in Waikiki! I absolutely loved waking up in the morning and looking out at the ocean, Diamond Head, and the Ala Wai canal, seeing the palm trees sway in the breeze, and knowing that I lived in the most beautiful and comfortable place in the world.

It was perfect!

Yeah, PERFECT…for a while.

But paying a big mortgage every month, not being able to travel much because of that mortgage, and living in a place that feels like my PERMANENT home in a way a rental never does, has had an effect on me. As much as I’ve loved living in this apartment, over the past year or so I’ve begun to feel a bit like a prisoner.


The living room of my oh-so-comfortable Waikiki apartment.

I felt like I was chained to this apartment and its comforts (not to mention Hawaii and its comforts) and I kept hearing this very reasonable-sounding voice saying, okay, now it’s time to just accept it, you’re over 60 now, you’re slowing down, settling down, you’re going to grow old here in this place. Relax and enjoy it…it’s a beautiful place to let your life wind down.



…let my life WIND DOWN??



So here’s what happened.

I was cleaning out a kitchen cupboard one afternoon and I was about to wad up and throw away a months-old issue of the Honolulu Weekly when an article caught my eye.

The story was about a British woman in her mid-40s who is rowing her way around the world. Yes, ROWING. Roz Savage had a mid-life crisis when she realized she had lots of material things and a comfortable relationship and a cushy job, but something was missing. At that point she did something really interesting: she wrote two versions of her own obituary.

In the first obituary she imagined continuing her life as it was going. In the second version, she imagined herself doing something adventurous and living life by her own rules. It was quite an epiphany for her. She wound up deciding to end her marriage and her career and give up all the material things she thought were important. That’s when she came up with the crazy idea of rowing across the Atlantic. (Read the article at the bottom of this page if you like.)

I’m not going to row across the Atlantic. (It’s painful enough flying across it in Coach.) But I have taken her message very much to heart.

Okay, it’s not quite the same. I’ve been living an adventurous life by my own rules for practically my whole life, and I’ve loved it, and I love my career and I will be keeping it. But that story really struck a nerve. I was standing there at my kitchen counter reading the article, thunderstruck. I realized what I HAD to do.


In a matter of about 30 seconds I not only knew I had to go traveling, I knew how I would do it. I would rent out my apartment (let someone ELSE pay my mortgage for awhile!), move my studio into my current office (which actually has plenty of space for it), sell my car and get rid of everything I didn’t need, and take my drawing, painting and photography (and blogging!) on the road. And I would travel for at least one year!

The fact that it took under a minute for me to know exactly how this would be done tells me that on some unconscious level I’d been planning this for awhile. But I hadn’t known it until I read that article.

What struck me with great force was how RIGHT this felt. As soon as the idea of doing this occurred to me, I knew it was already a done deal. It felt so right on so many levels, there was absolutely no question it was my path. I didn’t realize how unhappy and conflicted I’d been feeling until I finally saw my next step, and saw it with crystal clarity. I got so excited I could hardly contain myself, and I’m still feeling that way!

That was a little over two weeks ago. Since then I have contracted with a property management company to handle renting and management of my apartment for at least 1 year; I’ve put my car up for sale; I’m putting together a garage sale to get rid of everything; i’ve cancelled the cable, car insurance, and a dozen other things I had taken for granted and now feel lighter for having cut off; and the movers are coming day after tomorrow to move my studio into my office.

I’ll be flying to Los Angeles around June 30 (give or take a few days either way) to move in with my friend Gina for a few days while I decompress and start planning the next year (or more) of globetrotting.

Although I’m not going to plan TOO much. I’m excited by the prospect of making it up as I go along.

I love the fact that I’ll be free to travel the world yet I get to keep my gorgeous Waikiki apartment…kind of putting it on reserve until some future time when I’m ready to move back in. This is a mix of liberation and stability that really appeals to me.

I’ll have my studio all set up in my office so that whenever I’m in Hawaii (I plan to come back and check in every 2 or 3 months—where I’ll stay I don’t know yet but that will fall into place) I’ll be able to spend some time painting in a fully equipped studio. But most of the time I’ll be drawing, and photographing, wherever in the world I happen to be.

And I’m inviting you along for the ride, in a way. I’ll be updating you regularly on my adventures via this blog. And of course you’ll continue to see my new art popping up on my fine-art website,, and new models and photo shoots appearing in new entries right here on this blog.

Don’t hesitate to comment on any of this as we go. I’ve always enjoyed your comments on this Artist’s Diary blog, and appreciated them. Now I’ll appreciate them even more as you give me your feedback on where I’m going and what I’m doing and your suggestions on where I should go next, and what I should do when I’m there! I love the fact that I’ll be traveling on my own, but I’ll never be alone.

As Buzz Lightyear would say, “To infinity…and beyond!”

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