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How Travel and Writing Saved Me by Tony Brasunas

What would happen if you left everything behind – your culture, your family, your place, your people, and your history – and moved to a faraway and foreign world? 

What would happen if you did this alone, when you were young? 

It would be a terrifying and exhilarating time. Your experience would be something others would probably call "Coming of Age." If this departure were voluntary, others might say you were "Seeking Your Fortune." 

But the experience would be even more profound than these terms suggest. You wouldn't just find maturity or a fortune; you would uncover who you really are and what you can really do. Without the culture, family, and society that had raised you and known you all your life, you would come face to face with you. Who are you – at the core? 

Setting Out

I left the United States for the first time at the age of 22 and moved to China. I taught English in a Chinese high school and journeyed throughout the country with just a backpack. I did come of age; I did not find a fortune, other than perhaps the untold riches inherent in self-discovery. 

That turned out to be quite a lot. 

I discovered who I am, at a level far deeper than I had ever known. I also learned, through repeated experiences teaching and traveling, that this world and this life is an open garden awaiting us, awaiting our hopes, intentions, dreams, and creativity. I learned that if you trust yourself, your instincts, and your intuition, and if you take the risk of letting them truly guide you, the world opens up to you in unexpected ways and you discover the essence of your own inner being. You get to be alive in the fullness and magic of your true self. 

Putting that lesson into practice removed ten tons from my shoulders; it was the thing that saved me. I learned not only who I am, but that who I am (and who all of us truly are) is good. I embraced that, I took risk after risk based on that, and I found the ability in most every moment to do what I most deeply want. I discovered two happinesses. 

I returned home to the United States and found a culture, a family, and a world that expected me to be the person I had been before. I tried to meet their expectations, for some reason. I never told anyone the details of my story, and no one asked. I became depressed and chronically ill, and I had no idea why. 

At the suggestion of an old and distant friend, I began to write about my journey. As I began to explore where and who I had been, the me that I had discovered – the one who trusts himself and guides himself by his inner knowing and intuition – he was still there, just hiding because no one knew him. As I wrote, he could come forth and share his discoveries with me and with others. 

Two Happinesses

Writing was the second thing that saved me. I wrote and wrote, and rediscovered myself through this second journey. Along the way, my writing got longer and better. I learned something of this eternal and elusive art. And I set out to write a full book. 

Today, a decade later, thanks to dozens of helpful angels small and large, my story is now published. With deep joy and a touch of exhaustion, I can announce that it is here, my book, Double Happiness, the story of the two happinesses. 

I offer it – and all my writing – as a gift, first to the people, land, and spirits of China; second, to the many angels who helped me find my path to being a happy person; and third, and most of all, as a gift for people everywhere who might learn or benefit from my discoveries. 

May it be helpful to you, and to all who seek happiness, whether you are able to travel yourself or only to travel from an armchair. 

Trust yourself, have fun, take chances.

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