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ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM OUT -

What ad­vice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self? You know that body of yours? The one you’ve been treat­ing with such a cav­a­lier attitude? The one you’ve been glee­fully dump­ing beer and crappy food into? It won’t be all svelte and firm like that for­ever. Take bet­ter care of it!

What ad­vice would you give your 80-year-old self? Re­mem­ber the dig­nity of your own mom when she was in her 80s. Draw strength from that.

What do you know for sure? There is more to us than mere mol­e­cules. As much as I ad­mire sci­ence and the sci­en­tific method, a purely ma­te­ri­al­is­tic view of the world is woe­fully in­ad­e­quate when it comes to ex­plain­ing our sense of self, of won­der and the in­eluctable mys­tery of be­ing alive. What have you learned? Do not use spray paint on Sty­ro­foam. It cre­ates a bub­bling toxic fume that is po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive. (Note: This knowl­edge was ac­quired first­hand while help­ing my son with his Grade 6 sci­ence project. You’re welcome.)

What will you never learn? How to fix things around the house. I am the world’s worst handy­man. (I think other men are hav­ing se­cret meet­ings with­out me where they teach each other manly arts like how to use power tools and what an al­ter­na­tor is.)

Best piece of ad­vice? My fa­ther said: Fig­ure out what you love to do, and then fig­ure out a way to get some­one else to pay you to do it.

Did it work? So far. What in­spires you? The sto­ries that sur­round us. Ev­ery one we meet has a story to tell, some epic, some small, but all heart­break­ing and hu­man.

The mo­ment that changed ev­ery­thing? Miss­ing a bus in ru­ral Ja­pan. With­out think­ing, I stuck out a thumb at the next ve­hi­cle that passed. It worked. Af­ter that, I be­gan hitch­hik­ing across Ja­pan, even­tu­ally all the way to Hokkaido. From that came a se­ries of travel ar­ti­cles, a hitch­hiker’s guide­book and a bur­geon­ing ca­reer as a travel writer.

Hap­pi­ness is … Like try­ing to catch smoke in your hand. Just when you think you have it, it’s gone. Which only makes those few, rare mo­ments of pure hap­pi­ness all the sad­der, all the sweeter.

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