My mission statement, in a nutshell, was to approach life free of expectations and assumptions. I was striving to set aside any of my own personal judgments in order to confront the unknown on its own terms–formless and without definition, until I encountered it in the present moment. In this way, I would be able to experience the pure manifestation of my whole existence with more clarity, allowing the truth within me to peer straight into the essence of reality without the slant of bias; and letting go of the projected thoughts that might have prematurely influenced my perspective. When I began to consider actually turning my idea of this journey into a reality, it was mainly a private matter: I got the funds and resources together myself, and I only revealed my idea to a handful of people–family members and close friends who were more concerned about my well-being than my mission. Aside from my introverted nature, the biggest reason I kept my plans to myself was the actual purpose of this mission: I was about to put my core values on trial, in the biggest and least-controlled way I could come up with. In the comfortable predictability of everyday life, it just didn’t seem like the conditions for paradigm-shifting experiences really existed to the degree that I might start to question my faith in what I thought I stood for. But challenging my perspective in such a way that could potentially expose myself as a fraud for thinking that I represented the principles I most closely identified with was a TERRIFYING concept for me, and turning it into a publicity stunt was just about the last thing I wanted. This was a life-or-death mission for me–something that I had to do for the sake of my inner truth and the potential scope of my entire reality. From my point of view, backing out of this would have been an irrational risk in my life–a deliberate rejection of my potential. Finding out that I’d been living in self-deception would naturally have been a disappointment for me, but believing I was right without subjecting my self-appointed principles to real, firsthand experience would have been spiritual suicide for me. I came to terms with the stakes at hand and decided that as long as I was committed to making an honest effort, if my presupposed adherence to these ideals had not actually held up and I chose to return home, it would be forgivable. Even if I turned back before I’d left the state, I would still deem it to be a successful venture because I’d have at least gained some perspective and learned that my beliefs were in need of some adjustments. Refusing to even try in the first place, however, would have to be considered a failure, and deep in my heart I knew that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for ignoring something I’d thought myself to be so vested in.