BSE ChE '00
For Eric Bernath, his last day in the office still resonates. “One of the leaders of my company stopped me as I walked through the headquarters building saying: ‘Young man, I hear you are leaving us to go live the dream’ —which was not at all my frame of reference, but I could understand the perspective.”
After graduating from Michigan, earning a masters’ degree, and working 14 years in the biomedical industry, Eric made the rare decision to walk away from his career, donate everything to charity, and ride a motorcycle around the world. He set out from California to travel across all seven continents, 70 countries, and 100,000 miles on a motorcycle he had only recently learned to ride.
Starting out from Los Angeles, Eric rode 30,000 miles from Alaska to the tip of South America. He is now riding from the tip of South Africa to the northern-most road in Norway, exploring and photographing the world along the way. He takes a short break in his travels to share some thoughts and images with us.
What was your motivation to take this trek?
The routine can be the enemy—of creativity, of invention, of growth. Challenge is a necessity for growth and many of us reach a familiar place in our personal or professional life where our brain figures out a pattern, goes on autopilot, and stops stretching its muscle. I began to consider what might challenge me so much that it would frighten me if I ran towards it. And this is where I landed—to spend a couple years crossing the planet overland to discover it in astonishing ways. Travel by motorcycle allows me to meet fascinating people and cultures living in places beyond. And with that break in my old routine, I find that every minute the mind is learning something new, waking up, feeling alive.
How did you research / prepare for the trip?
All of life’s necessities had to fit on the back of my bike, and with that forcing function I realized a joyous simplicity in paring down my lifestyle to the essentials. And when you step away from that cycle of planning which so dominates the short work vacations we are used to, the mind stops worrying about what that day or that week might have in store.
How has the experience changed your outlook on life?
For me, I recognize I will return to a professional life. Until then, this trip is rewiring my mind and outlook to fully appreciate that the way one lives may not be the only way to live. That the world from your lens looks very different from someone else’s. That the lives we touch during our travels will be valued more than the things we buy or the years we worked at the office.
The adage goes that life feels really long when young, but becomes this strange quick blip. It goes by fast. But we can slow that down. Spend time creating something. Fill days with good family and friends. Touch people from other cultures and learn from their perspectives. Volunteer. I realize not everyone can undertake a grand journey in their lifetimes, but I hope my journey inspires a few others to grab hold of little opportunities to experience the most from their days. Read more about Eric’s trip at www.twowheelsonejourney.com.