The first thing I wanted for myself was to travel. Good grades, admission into university, a successful career—all these wants were given to me. But to explore the world for myself and see it on its terms and my own? That want was birthed in the secret and mysterious places of my heart.

In the first three months of this year, the gates to worldwide travel slammed shut, and a curtain fell over the highways, airways, and waterways that humanity spent millennia engineering. Not everything about a globalized world is good, I promise you. But the freedom for different nations, peoples, and cultures to meet, exchange, and grow is one of the most transformative blessings humanity has achieved for itself.

As a man who has drunk deeply of this blessing and knows its many benefits, I feel the loss acutely.

Today, rather than enjoying motion between destinations, we live indoors on a frozen planet, cut off from our outdoor lives of work, school, nature, hobbies, sports, worship, and community. Emotional isolation has been the most common result, along with creeping frustration and exhaustion.

El Perito Moreno Glacier
El Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafaté, Argentina (2016)

But it gets worse. In our shared aloneness, we’re being polarized against each other:

Black vs. White
Man vs. Woman
Right vs. Left
Gay vs. Straight
Science vs. Faith
Individual vs. Collective
Citizen vs. Police
City vs. Countryside

And so on.

It’s easy to demonize strangers when we’re not allowed face-to-face contact with them. It’s a universal human tendency to project onto “the other” every dark quality that lives within ourselves. If we could leave our homes, we might be able to see our fellow citizens and humans for who they are, and find ways to resolve our challenges with courage.

Instead, the clerics of science, medicine, and politics proclaim that we must remain inside, afraid, and wait for the media’s images to tell us how to proceed.

After months of non-stop exposure to these images, some of us have begun to question their reliability, or are beginning to. Unfortunately, doing so publicly today entails certain risks.

For an era that appears to be without religion, these are dangerous days to be a heretic.

WHO I AM

I’ve seen a lot of the world, and not just in the terrestrial sense. I’d like to share some facts about what I’ve done—including some things you’re not likely to know—so you can get a sense of who I am.

I’ve visited 33 countries on all 6 inhabited continents.

I’ve walked on glaciers, climbed mountains, trekked through deserts, bushwhacked jungles, swam in lakes, ridden on grasslands, sailed across oceans, snorkeled off beaches, scuba dived reefs, camped in forests, hiked up hills, explored a cave fifty meters underground, flown in a biplane through the sky, and stared into the cauldron of a live volcano.

Walking on El Perito Moreno
Walking on El Perito Moreno (2016)
Cruising down the Amazon River
Cruising down the Amazon River (2016)
Sunrise over the Sahara
Sunrise over the Sahara (2015)
The fires of Ambrym Volcano, Vanuatu
Ambrym Volcano, Vanuatu (2018)

I’ve traveled on jets big and small, props and puddle jumpers, trains, subways, trucks, buses, cars, carriages, vans, scooters, tuktuks, rickshaws, bicycles, motorcycles, cruise ships, sailboats, dinghies, kayaks, horseback, camelback, donkeyback, and also on an elephant.

I’ve slept in dorms, tents, huts, yurts, cabins, casitas, treehouses, guest rooms, living rooms, family homes, five-star hotels, grimy apartments, and sleeping bags on the cold, hard ground under the stars.

Campfire songs in the Tahr Desert, near Pakistan (2019)
Campfire songs in the Tahr Desert, near Pakistan (2019)

I’ve hugged a saint, drank with a gangster, spent an evening with a call girl, volunteered in a prison, been charged with a crime, and assaulted by cops.

I’ve feasted, fasted, partied and prayed; fallen in love and fallen for scams; cried tears of joy, tears of pain, and tears of laughter. And I’ve watched a loved one die.

My aunt, mother, and grandmother
My aunt (left), my mother, and my grandmother in 2004. My mother and grandmother passed away in 2006.

I’ve witnessed the light and dark in my soul on entheogens like Ayahuasca, Huachuma and Bufo Alvarius. I’ve surrendered to the loving embrace of God and experienced something approximating hell for twenty long seconds.

I was born Jewish and Bar Mitzvah’ed. I went to a Catholic Jesuit high school. I’ve had daily practices of Kabbalah study and dream interpretation. I’ve meditated with Buddhist monks until my consciousness disappeared and trained with a kung fu master on a mountaintop at sunrise. I’ve broken bread with Muslims and visited their mosques, prayed with Sikhs at the Golden Temple, and participated in the largest gathering of Hindus on Earth, bathing in their holy river. I’ve attended New Age festivals and retreats, been to Burning Man three times, sweated in Lakota lodges, heard the sacred medicine songs of the Shipibo and Emberna peoples of Central and South America, performed a haka war dance with the Māori of New Zealand, and had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Sunrise over Wudan Mountain, China
Sunrise over Wudan Mountain, China (2018)
My legs after the Maori Haka
My legs after the Māori haka (2019)
When I learned the truth
When I learned the truth (2015)

I have friends who are lifelong Conservative Republicans. I have friends who are devout Christians. I have friends who are anarchists, atheists, and libertarians. I have a friend who is a Flat Earther. I have a friend who did time. I have friends who are hippies. I have friends who are gay and swingers. I have friends who proudly voted for President Trump. I have friends who can’t stand him. I have friends who despised him and now are voting for him in November. I have friends who are rich. I have friends who are poor. I have friends who are old and friends who are young. I have friends who are professors. I have friends who are dropouts. I have friends who are policemen, soldiers, and former interstate drug dealers. I have friends in every shade of skin color and in every country I’ve visited. I wish I could get all my friends together. We’d have an awesome party.

In 2008, I campaigned for the election of Barack Obama. For six months I made hundreds of calls to voters all over the country, including on election day.

Election day 2008
Election Day – 9am on November 4, 2008, at Obama HQ in San Francisco

In 2009, I attended President Obama’s inauguration in Washington, DC. In 2010, I collected in-person signatures for Obamacare, and attended the Stewart & Colbert “Rally To Restore Sanity” on the National Mall.

Inauguration Day 2009
Inauguration Day – Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 on the National Mall in D.C.

After the Democrats lost control of Congress in 2010, I realized that laughing at Jon Stewart and posting on Facebook wasn’t affecting change, regardless of my sense of self-satisfaction at doing both. So beginning in late 2011 I became an anonymous mid-level activist for Occupy Wall Street in San Francisco. I built and ran the city email list from scratch, and produced and designed print materials for a team I co-founded, the Ideological Liberation Working Group. If you live in San Francisco, you might have seen my work without knowing it.

Email card
Just a sample…

I attended protests and linked arms to prevent the occupation at Justin Herman Plaza from being raided by police. I spoke on the “people’s microphone” and shivered in the damp winter cold during long weeknight meetings. For more than a year I gave up my hobbies to be an activist as a side job while working in an office full-time during the day.

Justin Herman Occupation
The occupation at Justin Herman Plaza (2011)

I quit Occupy in 2012 primarily over its unwillingness to condemn property destruction as a form of protest, after watching the movement be infiltrated by a group of violent bad-actors in black hoods. I attempted to broker an agreement between the two leader groups to work together without the need for violence, and I almost succeeded. But the black hoods backed out at the last minute, and I left. Years ago, I concluded the black hoods were likely working for an outside organization.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Stanford University, Class of 2002. While at Stanford I lived in Ujamaa, the African-American ethnic theme dorm. By charter, half of the dorm’s 109 occupants must be members of that race. (Stanford also has Asian, Latino, and Native American ethnic theme dorms.)

I was assigned to Ujamaa at random my Sophomore year in 1997. When I had the opportunity to live anywhere I wanted on campus during my Junior year, I chose to live in Ujamaa again. That year, I was named “Most Active Member of the Non-Theme Race” by my fellow residents.

In 1999, when I was 21 years old, I co-founded a dotcom startup with a fellow student, an African-American man named Ralph, who became our company’s CEO. He and I sat on the Board of Directors together. With our other co-founders we raised millions of dollars from private and institutional investors, and hired dozens of people from around the country and the world.

Ralph leading a company meeting
Ralph leading a company meeting downstairs at our Palo Alto, CA office (2000)

I lived on Treasure Island in San Francisco—the third most diverse zip code in America—for twelve years, until 2016 when I left to travel. I was a proud member of my community.

I dated a Filipina immigrant for over a decade.

The woman I almost settled down with in New Zealand is part-Māori, and works towards Māori social equality in the field of national health research.

I invite you to consider the facts I’ve shared, and what you might intuit about any man they’d describe.

THE IMAGE OF TRANSFORMATION

In the past four months during lockdown, I’ve had the chance to reflect on the roads I’ve traveled, the things I’ve done, and the versions of myself I’ve been. I’ve been assembling and reassembling the pieces, trying to figure out where I’m going next and who I’d like to be.

During this time I’ve also wanted to write on my blog about topics related to my travels, and that might not touch on current events. But I’ve held back due to fears of “cancel culture,” a form of online bullying that attempts to determine who can speak and what they can say. I’ve been worried about losing close friends and drawing the ire of family if I say the wrong things or if I fail to say the right things, even if I don’t believe them.

I’ve investigated the ideology behind “cancel culture” enough to know that anyone who shares it won’t care about what I’ve done, seen, or learned firsthand from my rich and varied life experience—which is to say, they won’t care about me. The ideology only cares about race, gender, sexual orientation, and demonstrations of allegiance, even if that allegiance is just performative.

Similarly, the ideology doesn’t care about truth, dialogue, learning, or growth: it apparently has all the answers it needs. It has sacred texts and prophets, evangelists and zealots, and cannot be questioned, taking on all the worst aspects of a religion.

This new religion is seeking both converts to the faith and heretics to crucify. I know I’m not alone in observing this phenomenon and hoping to avoid becoming either.

The problem is that’s no damned way to live.

On the road I spent four years expanded as close as I could get to the size of a planet. Before my journey, I spent two years resurrecting myself to stand upright like a man. Through effort, intention, and courage I escaped from the cages I’d built around myself. Then I left the U.S. and completed my Hero’s Journey with honor and dignity, manifesting my heart’s dream to wild success. Every step of the way I was aided by human and divine grace, for which I’m eternally grateful.

In other words, I did the thing.

Elixir Sword, Wudangshan
Training in the Elixir Sword, atop Wudang Mountain in China. (2018)

Now I’m supposed to spend my life in a shrinking physical and linguistic sphere, circumscribed by bureaucrats and ideologues? And I’m to stay here until they tell me otherwise?

I’m sorry, no.

Because another thing has happened over the past four months: I’ve lost more than 30 pounds, and I won $2500 for my efforts. Click below to see a pic. (Warning: half-naked pics of me.)

These photos are 108 days apart: Monday February 17 to Thursday June 4, 2020. I accomplished 2/3rds of this during lockdown using diet, bodyweight exercises, yoga, and occasional agility drills in a nearby park. No gym required. The second photo is more than a month old now, too; I’m fitter today. And I did my own photo shoot in my apartment.

The shedding of physical baggage has accompanied a shedding of emotional and spiritual baggage. While transitioning from travel to home life, and transforming my body into a healthier and more capable version of itself, I’ve discovered something:

I have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to feel guilty for.

Because I know in my heart that I’ve walked the roads of my life with compassion, kindness, curiosity, and humility. I’ve done these imperfectly, to be sure, but at every turn I’ve done them to the best of my ability. The truth is in my conscience and my spine.

I mention this because “cancel culture” and the religion behind it impose themselves by force on individuals and institutions using tactics of guilt and social shaming. They have no other tools, especially not rational debate.

But as I look into myself in daily meditation and prayer, I feel pride, deep gratitude, and a carefully-cultivated and preserved integrity. This means I’m not likely to be a convert to the religion. That leaves just one other option: heretic.

A third choice might be silence, an attempt to ride out the storm. But I don’t foresee this storm passing soon; it’s been building for awhile.

Besides, silence hasn’t served me. In self-reflection I’ve discovered I have a voice and with it, things to say. I also have this platform on which to say them. I don’t have to interject my thoughts into anyone’s Facebook or Instagram feed, I can put them here.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I will gladly bear the risk of taking on cancel culture’s favored tactic: a predictable accusation of bigotry. My conscience acquits me of that through the choices I’ve made during the last 25 years of my life. Actually, the matter never comes to trial.

I didn’t make those choices because I was “supposed to,” or because anyone was watching, but because the choices were obviously right. I did them alone, often at great personal cost, and long before today’s crusaders took up the charge. I climbed mountains and told no one.

Finally, I’ve seen more of the world—up and down, left and right, inside and out—than anyone I know. Probably more than any two people. In doing so, I’ve questioned my prejudices and fears not with book research but action.

More times than I can count, I took bold leaps into frightening and unfamiliar situations and cultures for the sole (soul) purpose of seeing the truth for myself—whether on the pilgrim-packed streets of Prayagraj, the dark alleyways of Cartagena late at night, a local bus in the suburbs of Ulan Baatar, Market Street in San Francisco in winter, remote islands in the Vanuatuan archipelago, or a hard meditation cushion in the mountains of Kashmir. The perspective on true human diversity I’ve gained from those experiences—and thousands of others—are a part of me, and cannot be taken away.

Prayag Pilgrims
Walking to the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, India. (2019)
Shanghai crowd
Called up on stage to be part of a magician’s performance in Shanghai, China (2018)
Medellin party
Celebrating a football victory on the streets of Medellín, Colombia (2016)
Boys in Vanuatu
Young boys on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. They asked for me to take a selfie with them (2018)

God blessed me with these opportunities over and over again. As I reflect on my story, I can see I’ve seized each one with both hands.

Because that is who I am. The further back I look, I see that is who I’ve always been.

TO LOSE THE WORLD AND GAIN MY SOUL

I understand that for some, no evidence will be enough to convince them of my “ideological innocence” when their worldview is consciously or unconsciously based on spreading guilt and toxic shame. This is fine.

Thankfully, I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to those of you in the middle, who feel yourselves caught in a war, hunkered down in a foxhole listening to the battle like I was. You know what you hear, you know what’s true, and you know what feels false. But maybe you don’t know how to express that, or whether or not it’s worth it to try. Maybe you want someone to speak with, to, or even for you.

Or maybe, for God’s sake, you want to hear someone talking about anything other than politics for once!

Well, I’m not a martyr, but I am a man. I’ve earned the right to call myself that. And if I’ve learned one thing about men and masculinity over half a lifetime of deliberate study, it’s that men must stand up courageously for what we believe in and what we know. There’s no hope for anyone unless we do.

So going forward, I’m going to express myself on the subjects that I choose. Not all of my posts will be political. For those that are, I’ll endeavor to connect them back to travel and my larger perspective on the world, driven by my experiences. I’ve been blessed with a life that’s given me the chance to explore far beyond the bounds of the average person. This is a rare gift in all of human history. I claimed it, and now it’s my responsibility to share the prize.

I also confess a selfish motivation: I want my planet back.

I want to fly again, to sail again, to travel again. I want to see the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. I want to marvel at the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I want to party at Carnavál without a mask, watch the Northern Lights, climb the steps of Teotihuacán in Mexico, take photos of Red Square, drink a Guinness at the factory, and set foot on the South Pole, my seventh and final continent.

Through doing all of these I hope, as ever, to be a stitch that helps to knit our fractured world back together in a fuller, better way; and to help you, through word and photo, see “the other” in the ways that I’ve been fortunate to.

But none of these things will happen on our current trajectory. I refuse to see the world through a TV screen, to watch loved ones grow old and die on a video call, to be blackmailed out of my sovereignty by medical bureaucracy, and least of all to allow myself to be silenced by a secular religion that determines my virtue by the color of my skin, rather than my priceless, God-given individuality.

I hereby refuse the terms being offered by our institutions and media today, and I believe them to be deeply suspect.

I cannot take up arms for these causes. The world doesn’t work that way, thank God. For now I fight with my ideas, thoughts, memories, questions, voice, mind, heart, spirit, and effort, supported by as healthy a body as I can achieve.

This is what I choose: to find my way through the middle, as always, not out of hatred for what is but a fierce love for what can be.

If that costs me the approval of the world today, so be it.

I may lose the world, but I gain my soul.

For what profit is it...

Subscribe to

The Lost Pilgrim

55 Comments

  1. JOHN MCNALLY

    Let’s take our planet back. This is inspiring and powerful, a life well lived, but so much more to come in the future.

  2. “Men must stand up courageously for what we believe in and what we know. There’s no hope for anyone unless we do.” – This is inspirational to me. Thanks for sharing your story. What a journey.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Ken! I’m so happy you liked those lines, and that they inspired you. I have led a remarkable life. Writing this helped me see that, and it makes me feel even more responsible for speaking up on behalf of the world I want to see.

  3. My heart is warmed to hear that you truly got to experience the world at the height of its connectivity. I hope we can get back to that one day so I can have a fraction of your experiences for myself. The world is losing its ability to tolerate the middle, whether due to the progressive religion or fears over the coronavirus. We need voices for the middle. We need more love, more humanity.

    I’m with you; I look forward to hearing what you have to say, both in the future and in your past posts.

    • Will Spencer

      Thanks, Colin! Yes, I feel very lucky to have gotten to see the world before everything changed. The timing on how all that happened is very much its own story. I also hope we can get back to that, sooner rather than later.

      And yes, the world is definitely losing the middle, and people who know how to navigate that gap when there’s so much pressure either way. I’m no expert at it, but I’m willing to give it a try.

      Thanks for standing with me, Colin, and I look forward to sharing more with you.

  4. Michael Guimarin

    I like this. When they cancel you, you have a wonderful artifact of the person they’ve come to destroy. Ad hominem. I hope you get to travel again. And I hope for more essays on how your experience of the world’s diversity will help and guide us to a better future.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you so much, Michael! That really means a lot. I’ve put a great deal of thought into how to express what I know. I’m looking forward to finally having the chance to share that.

      “When they cancel you, you have a wonderful artifact of the person they’ve come to destroy.”

      I LOVE this. Thank you! Made my day. 😀

  5. A very inspiring post, Will.
    The type of text that leaves one thinking “damn, I want to be able to say similar things about my life someday”… and I’m not talking about “things” as only the material or the experiences you’ve been through, but also to be able to write with such authenticity.
    To know thyself, to be confident in your choices… Isn’t this what we all strive for, at least at one point in our lives?

    Even though ideologically we are very different (or at least we were, 10 years ago) I’m glad to see such a defense of individuality. It’s what makes us, us. I firmly believe we all have something to add to this world, as long as we keep true to ourselves.

    Thanks for writing this. We need people who, like you said, “stand up courageously for what we believe in and what we know”. There’s nothing toxic about it, like some people like to spout. We must recover this feeling.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Antonio! It was a big “claiming” of my life to write all this stuff down. I would like nothing more than for you to live the kind of life you want, and feel the same enthusiasm to give back as I feel.

      My politics have changed a lot over the years, both from travel and my activism days, which showed me the dark side (and blind side) of what I was supporting. Future posts will explain that. But I’m very much an individualist, in part because I’m an American and it’s in my blood, and also because of my spiritual belief that we are each as unique and precious creations as anything else on Earth, if not more so.

      And totally agreed that we must all reclaim the power of speaking up with integrity! I have been through enough to learn who I am. I’ve been tested, and that’s an ongoing process. But I think you feel all those streams flowing together in this post, which means that aspiration that lives in you too.

  6. Raymond Allen

    Excellent writing & powerful message! Truly inspirational!

  7. Philip Ovadia

    Excellent essay. It is inspiring to see how you took the time that you were prevented from traveling to improve your health. A great example of how any one of us can emerge from these times stronger and prepared to move forward with living life to the fullest

    • Will Spencer

      Amen to that, Philip! Obviously I’d give anything to have changed the lockdown. But given that I couldn’t, I chose to make the best of it. That choice (or really all those cumulative choices) might not have just changed my life. They probably saved it.

      And thanks so much for taking the time to read this, brother.

  8. Mike Yuhaniak

    “Because I know in my heart that I’ve walked the roads of my life with compassion, kindness, curiosity, and humility. I’ve done these imperfectly, to be sure, but at every turn I’ve done them to the best of my ability. The truth is in my conscience and my spine.”

    Powerful words that resonate deeply and can only be spoken by a man who has earned them. Despite having only met you once, I state with conviction that you have a beautiful soul, and it is inspiring to see you bare it to the world without reservation. This post aptly demonstrates your “carefully-cultivated and preserved integrity.” I look forward to seeing more of your synthesis of experiences and diligent study.

    • Will Spencer

      Mike, you’re the best. Thank you so much. I can confidently say that you also have a beautiful soul, and it comes through in your work and skill. So I think you have some of those same qualities you admire in me, including generosity and the rewards of diligent study. I’m sure we’ll meet many more times than just one. I’m looking forward to it.

  9. Joseph Seila

    That was very well written. You have had traveled a lot and have a great testimony. I always wonder how people like you manage to do all that traveling. Hopefully I can travel more once the lockdowns in other countries end. Hopefully I can find one of your older posts to see if you explained how you managed to do so much traveling and found all those interesting places. I’m definitely looking for good scuba diving spots.

    I’m glad to see you make this post, we need more voices and people speaking up and standing against cancel culture. I am looking forward to more of your posts.

    • Will Spencer

      Hi Joseph – Thanks so much for your comment! The story of how I came to travel the way I did spans 16 years, many twists and turns, hard choices, losses, successes, failures, hopeless moments, and ultimately triumph when I least expected it. It’s way too long—and much of it too private—to put on my blog, and some of it might not sound like you’d expect. But I’m always willing to tell the story in person. So I hope we’ll get a chance to meet someday so I can.

      I also hope that you get to travel, too! Mostly I just went with the wind, and where my instincts carried me and what sounded interesting and unmissable. Scuba diving was the one thing I didn’t really do, though! I did a test dive off the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas, Australia. But I’m sure an experienced diver would have found my dive a bit boring. Still, I did it.

      I’m looking forward to sharing more posts (and travel advice!) with you. I agree that together we can stand up for free speech, against social censorship. Thank you so much again!

  10. Matthew Fernandes

    As somebody who hasn’t traveled much outside of my little bubble, I look forward to reading more posts like this. It’s uplifting and inspiring to read about the life of a man such as yourself. We’re in an age where men aren’t men anymore, and intelligence is gone from the masses, replaced with a blank, thoughtless populace. I seek out men like you Will, to let me know that there are still embers burning in our society, keeping thoughts and ideas alive. Thank you for the post, I look forward to reading more of these posts.

    • Will Spencer

      Hi Matthew – Thanks so much for your comment! So much of my desire to understand and cultivate my own masculinity was wrapped up in this trip, not just the journey itself but getting to the point of doing it! I haven’t always been the man I am today—read this post for more: https://willspencer.co/the-face-i-deserve/ – but I am happy to say that I’ve never given up on myself, and my vision for myself and my future. I’m very lucky that way; blessed, in fact. And that you admire that in me means the same ember burns in you. We share it. And I’m certain we can use our shared embers to kindle something great. Your reflection means a lot, and I’m looking forward to sharing most posts, ideas, and adventures with you. Real life is so much better than a screen, anyway. Have a great day.

  11. “If that costs me the approval of the world today, so be it.”

    When the whole world is running towards a cliff, the man running the other way appears to have lost his mind. I only hope this inspires more people to have the courage to “lose“ theirs too.

    • Will Spencer

      Call me crazy, but I have a feeling we’re running together. Maybe we can get a few more people to come along for the ride.

      Your comment is amazing, Tysenberg. Please take the brevity of my reply as a sign of my respectful and grateful silence at the beautiful sentiment. Thank you.

  12. Patrick Casey

    There’s so much good in this world. If only more people would take the time to seek it out as you have. Walk The Path, I’ll see you along the way.

    • Will Spencer

      The world is overflowing with good, and people are too! The saddest thing is that our society tells us to ignore the good in ourselves, and as a result we forget how to see the good in the world. Happy to be sharing this Path with you, brother. Let’s see how many we can get to come along with us. Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. Joe Katzman

    I have walked some of this road, and you have done The First Thing. You stood up as a man, and then you took the first step to show that your bearing was not idle.

    Coming from a man who has shown a willingness to question and experience so much, that step is enough. For all else will flow from it. And if that step takes you to places and scenarios and ideas as different and wild as the ones you have visited in your body, well… you have done no less before.

    Buckle up. And welcome.

    • Will Spencer

      What powerful words. Poetic both for what they say and leave unsaid. I appreciate this more than I can explain, because it’s clear that between the lines we share an understanding of the unspoken things of manhood and of life. I sincerely hope that we get to meet in person to speak about them someday, even if that speaking is done in reverential silence.

      Onward, to The Second Thing. Happy to be sharing this road with you.

      It’s very meaningful to me that you took the time to read and leave a comment, Joe. Thank you.

  14. Fantastic & inspiring piece. I look forward to reading more insight from a man who searched the world for meaning and found himself. I have no doubt that many with whom you crossed paths were also changed dynamically, and I trust for the better, in small and large ways. Hopefully the world opens up soon, so you can continue to create things that are worthy of being called “good”.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Hutch! What an awesome comment. I often say that one of the curses of being human is that we rarely get to know the effects of the good we do. How many customer service supervisors get calls that are complaints rather than compliments, right? But your comment reminds me that my path may have touched the lives of many people in ways I’ll never know. What a great feeling to start my day off with. I’d sure like to think I gave as much as I received.

      And it’s funny you say this: “a man who searched the world for meaning and found himself.” I had real problems with the phrase “finding myself” — and I wrote about some of them here: https://willspencer.co/on-finding-myself/ — but ultimately that is what I discovered. That was the real gift, and I’m grateful now to have the (forced) time and space to share it.

      I look forward to creating more “good” things, including with you. Onward, brother. Thank you.

    • Joe Katzman

      How do we change the people we cross paths with? And what do we create?

      Wherever the path takes us: to towns or to the world, to peace or to war – these are good lodestones to have. Thanks, Hutch.

  15. Hey Will, the life you show is an inspiration for generations to come! Especially now with the weird current situation that we’re in.

    “Because I know in my heart that I’ve walked the roads of my life with compassion, kindness, curiosity, and humility. I’ve done these imperfectly, to be sure, but at every turn I’ve done them to the best of my ability. The truth is in my conscience and my spine.”

    Couldn’t have said it better, Peace ✌️

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Lowen! I’m grateful that my life and experiences are an inspiration, because I’ve been inspired by the many men and women that blazed the trail for me. I like that you highlighted my comment about integrity too. It’s so essential! Knowing that you resonate with the sentiment, I have no doubt that you’ll also blaze a trail for those who follow you. Happy to have met you, and thanks so much for your awesome comment. Peace.

  16. Wow!
    What a journey!
    Now that I know what sort of experiences you had in your life, for me it’s actually even more difficult to guess who you are. However, I have no desperate intention to guess it right, because I am able to receive positivity from you and I am able to pray for you unintentionally otherwise.
    What we are going through right now is temporary and we will surely have a better tomorrow after the lessons we must learn. Faith is the key. This time will pass too leaving great stories behind.

    • Will Spencer

      Hi Kaavya! I can help you guess who I am. Would you like some clues? Because if you figure it out, would you tell me? LOL!

      Thanks so much for your comment. I love that you’re able to receive positivity from me, as I enjoy sharing that vibe, especially with you because you’re so sensitive and receptive to it. I’ll definitely take all the prayers that I can get, too. Though I agree with you that this situation will pass and is temporary, I believe it’s also calling to the best in each of us to stand up for that better tomorrow. In fact, this may be the exact right road we all need to take to get there. Wouldn’t that be a puzzle! But surely it shows the loving, steady hand of the Divine, ever guiding us to faith and good works in the world.

      Have a wonderful day. So marvelous to hear from you, as always. I will keep you in my prayers, as well.

  17. “I have climbed mountains and told no one!” I love that! I haven’t traveled much in this world, but I’ve climbed those mountains inside myself. They can be lonely, but the view from the top is worth the climb. Travel on, friend, and keep telling us all about it!

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you Christy! It is such a great feeling to have climbed a mountain in some meaningful way and yet to keep the accomplishment a secret. It’s the true definition of “empowering”, in the sense that it gives us power. And it’s one of those rare scenarios where the journey and the destination have equal value. I look forward to sharing more with you as I travel (in place, for now) and I’m so glad you resonated with the piece!

  18. Chris Horrigan

    Inspiring post, Will. I’m glad to see someone speaking up in this hard to describe vein — it’s not really a political vein but at the same time there are obvious social/political implications. Those of us who find ourselves at odds with the Modern World and its anti-human ways don’t really have a good way to get in touch outside of anonymous internet posting. This heretical way of thought is usually arrived at through highly verboten political channels which can get you “canceled” if you’re identified participating in them. That’s often an ugly scene due to its intimate proximity to polarizing political events and social tension, but it’s also usually the only way you can find people (anonymously) who are on a different wavelength from Clown World.

    I feel what you have here is a unique approach from the other angle, which is of fitness and adventure and just being spiritually separate from Clown World Bugman-ism. It’s not about political extremism and hatred. It is about loving humanity in all its actual diversity, and valuing human freedom. I am looking forward to seeing where you go with this and I think the vibe you have going here is something like-minded people can feel free to coalesce around.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you so much, Chris. Your comment is perfect.

      I have another upcoming post that I’ve been working on, about selecting one’s own worldview. Really it’s a process of building a worldview. The thing is, I’ve actually had the experiences, been the places, and seen the things necessary to build my own perspective on the world, outside of any established dogma. I mean, right when I left the US it became apparent that everything I had learned about my country and others was riddled with falsehoods. The more I saw, the more that was confirmed. So I had to figure out how to live in integrity with that.

      So when you say this…

      I feel what you have here is a unique approach from the other angle, which is of fitness and adventure and just being spiritually separate from Clown World Bugman-ism. It’s not about political extremism and hatred. It is about loving humanity in all its actual diversity, and valuing human freedom

      it’s absolutely accurate. And even despite knowing all I do and seeing all I have, and coming from the place I am, I’m still afraid to speak up. Nonetheless I have to. And the best part is finding that, while I took a unique road to get where I am, I’m not walking alone.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I’m hoping to build a bigger, better space for people to coalesce around, as you say. Thank you.

  19. Chris Wheatley

    “I’m talking to those of you in the middle, who feel yourselves caught in a war, hunkered down in a foxhole listening to the battle like I was. You know what you hear, you know what’s true, and you know what feels false.”

    Amen, brother. Thanks for sharing your story. You’ve had an amazing journey so far. Can’t wait to see what comes next.

    • Will Spencer

      Thanks, Chris! I’m so happy to know you liked that line. I wanted it to reach people, to let them know that these are real feelings. Your comment confirms that it probably did. I really, really appreciate it. Look forward to sharing the journey with you.

  20. Were someone to ask me what I’d think a modern day Shaman would like like,I’d point them,to you. Very amazing story and well articulated thoughts and beliefs.

    • Will Spencer

      Now that is a huge compliment, Robert. THANK YOU. I’m flattered and honored, and don’t know what to say. But I hope to continue living up to that ideal, that calling. You really made my day. In a way it’s everything I’ve ever wanted, to be a guide for others to themselves.

  21. Made my hair stand. You’ve traveled and experienced enough to make a conscious decision like this and it’s very inspiring. Let’s take the world back!

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Noufal! Awesome! So glad you liked it. Yes, it was a conscious decision. I fought off many different instances where I wanted to go “unconscious” and just post something out of frustration on Facebook or wherever. But I’m glad I waited for the right moment, to stand on my two feet and do it “solar.” 🙂 Yes, let’s take the world back! Happy to be in this fight with you!

  22. Fantastic read. Looking forward to hearing your perspective more often.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you, Craig! I really appreciate it. I look forward to sharing my perspective more often now, as well. 🙂 Have a great one.

  23. Thank you for writing and sharing this. Living with integrity is the highest form of self-respect, and one that everyone has a right to. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten how to live with such integrity, and as you have pointed out, there are forces at work that aim to suppress living authentically. Therefore, you standing up to that tide is worthy of applause and emulation.

    I look forward to seeing and reading more from you.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you so much, Kavinda! I totally agree with your sentiments about integrity. My belief is that there is no more important quality in a man (or a person) than his integrity—not just in relation to other people, but just for himself, to be able to look within and know that he is living the highest truth of which he’s capable. It’s quite a feeling, and I’m happy to hear that it’s one that you’re familiar with.

      Indeed, there are many, many forces that suppress our authenticity AND that subtly suggest to us that compromising our integrity “is no big deal.” We see and hear them all around us all the time. In fact, I’d say that it’s a core message of modernity that “Integrity has no value. Just do what feels good.” As you know, this is a bald-faced lie. It only gains a semblance of truth because of how often and how loudly it’s repeated.

      I confess that I can’t take all the credit for standing up to the tide. I have been immensely blessed in my life with a spirit that values growth and transformation. I wrote this piece because my integrity tells me that it’s my responsibility to share my gifts, not because anyone else has told me to but because I feel it. So to be seen in that, by you, through my words, is immensely validating.

      I’m grateful that we connected, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you.

  24. Very profound writing, Will. I wanted to take the time to read this properly and stand back to gather my thoughts.

    As we know, life is not a rehearsal. You have shown that with your travel and experiences.

    Indulge me a little on this one, but as an atheist I am in awe of the path we have taken as a species. We are standing on the shoulders of giants.

    We have all – all of us – won the fucking evolutionary lottery. Just thing how many genetic variants fell by the wayside during evolution and enabled us to forge a path all the way through and we are HERE.

    I respect and admire all those who have faith – whichever faith. For me though, everything is about the HERE and NOW. We need to burn brightly, otherwise we dishonour all those who have gone before.

    Against this backdrop, will I accept ‘cancellation’? Will I be assimilated?

    Hmm, not so much.

    • Will Spencer

      YES! “Not so much.” Excellent.

      Although I’d offer just one correction: we’re not standing on the shoulders of giants. Most of us are crumpled into a ball upon their backs, or are simply lazing. If more of us were truly standing, redeeming the species, making good on all our genetic achievements, we’d live in a very different world.

      For those of us who’ve chosen to stand, however, it’s a pretty incredible view, as you know. And once the smoke clears, it’ll be even better. 🙂

      Grateful to have met you, and to be traveling with you, Paul. Thank you for the gift of your time in considering my piece. It’s honestly one of the greatest compliments you could have given me, and I’m very, very appreciative.

  25. Your words weaved such a profound, revealing story of the gift of your life, Will! I am so inspired by this journey you’ve taken me on and know many others will be, too. Thank you for sharing so beautifully, courageously and vulnerably of who you are as an awakened individual in this wild and crazy yet incredibly beautiful world we live in.

    • Will Spencer

      Thank you so much, my friend! So sorry for the delayed reply. I’m grateful to have brought you along on this journey, and to have shared this grand journey of life with you. Blessings to you, wherever you are today. 🙂

  26. Wow, thank you for sharing your life’s story and having the courage to make that first step in taking back your planet, our planet. My own journey began at the end of your post

  27. Just stumbled upon you and very much enjoyed and resonated with your worldview in this article……Many things in my life conspired to wreck my mojo for at least 12 years, culminating in a betrayal tragedy 3 years ago that has left me destroyed……trying to navigate my spirituality now through this dystopian nightmare overlaying us….I nevertheless try to be a “lightworker” with children which is my “dharma” (for lack of a better word)….Was impressed how “explored” you are both worldly and intellectually…..I’ve always had a nervous breakdown just trying to get out of NY airspace even in the old days when I tried to travel…..thanks for accepting me in this community….JOE

    • Will Spencer

      Hey Brother – I’m so grateful you read this article, and so happy you liked it. It sounds like you’ve been through quite a lot. All I can say is that the worst events of my life—and there have been a few—became the doorways to my greatest achievements and blessings, because I found (and was given!) the strength to keep going, to keep working it. Our pain activates the light in us, forces us to dig deeper to compassion, strength, and fortitude that comfort never makes us find. Suffering has purpose, even though it might not seem like it at the time. So, keep going. You’re a part of this community, and of the global community of humans trying to build a better world, with the unique gifts and skills they were given. Be safe. Thanks again for reading.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *