Guest Post: Flying through Door #4

It's been awhile since I've sat down and watched TV. Maybe a year or so. But, from when I did, I remember a commercial for Audi. Clearly, this commercial was posed for the young, up-and-coming gen-y. If you don't remember the one, let me give you the run-down:

Behind a stark, stoic desk sat a stark, stoic man. In front of him: a younger man, much less comfortable in the office filled with deep mahogany furniture.

The elder of the two dogmatically laid out the other's life for him.

"You will attend one of these three [Ivy-league] Schools"

"You will enter one of these three [high-paying, upper-echelon] professions"

"You will drive one of these three luxury cars..." and, of course, this is when the Audi pulls up providing the perfect option #4.

What Audi did well was identify a foundational paradigm shift in the mindset of this generation: we're willing to take the chance behind door #4. We are making choices that dumbfound our elders, but seem natural to us, albeit a bit risky from time to time. But that's what excites us. We know this is our life, and we're set on living.

One year ago, I walked - or rather flew - through my door #4. I left the comfort of my hometown, my friends, family, managerial position in retail, roommates and culture to fly to the other side of the world and teach English in Taiwan for a year.

What I learned in that year I will carry with me the rest of my life. My view of culture (both mine and foreign), and my view of myself altered entirely. The details of how and what are chronicled on my blog, but I'm not here to bore you with that.

What I'm here to say is this: the rules of the game have changed. Door #4 is not only a more viable option, but a more accessible one.

On the rise in the US, and already widely accepted in much of Europe and Australia, is the gap year. This is the idea of taking a break from life and doing like I did: getting out. It's generally before entering university, after graduation, or occasionally in between (though the "adult gap year" is on the rise as well).

As the world gets smaller every day, and technology makes life and communication more mobile, leaving for a year (or 6 months, or a month) becomes easier.

There's increasing research that the "gap year" has unseen benefits that employers are taking notice from. reported on researchers finding an association between those who have lived abroad and an elevated level of creativity.

But here's my beef with the "gap year" mentality. It leaves the traveler with the idea that the year is a "break" from her/his life.

Let me tell you, that year is as much a part of your life as your 4 years in university. Or getting hired at your dream gig.

Over at The Drift, we have a saying: The Journey is the Destination.

We've been programed to think our life is a succession of events: High School; University; Career; Family; Retirement; Death.

That's boring.


If I can encourage readers to one thing, it's this: Don't be afraid to do something different. Something you never thought you'd do. And when you do, remember what you do along the way to your "life goals (or "destinations")" is just as much of your life as those big events. Because Life isn't about the big events; life started yesterday, and yesterday is gone. Don't wait for some far off event to start living.

More than any point in history, any generation before us, the door on option number four has blown wide open. The rules of normalcy have changed, and the rise of information and technology have given us the keys to our life. Take them and use them. Find what you're passionate about through your door #4, then walk, no, fly through and live your life.

Because Life is a Journey, friends. And the Journey is the Destination.

About the Author: After spending a year in Taiwan blogging at The Taiwan Drift, Chase relocated himself back to sunny Southern California and relocated his blogging endeavors to Feel free to drop him a line on his blog or on Twitter.

[Photo found here through Flickr's Creative Common]


  • Kelvin, thanks again for inviting me on board!

  • great article, Chase!

    I think I have a similar mindset as you when I think about my "inner compass" life philosophy I've had since college. Taking door #4 is definitely empowering and it's empowering to see that it's becoming more and more of a viable option.

    I guess I'm taking my gap year a little late but better late than never ;)

  • "We're willing to take the chance behind door #4. We are making choices that dumbfound our elders, but seem natural to us, albeit a bit risky from time to time. But that's what excites us. We know this is our life, and we're set on living."

    CS Lewis, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, John Lennon: there are those in each generation that sees and travels through Door Number Four.

    They often call out to others... but regardless of who does or doesn't follow, who does or doesn't understand, they themselves pass through the door and live large...

    Plato had his cave, where many are satisfied to stay... but if you've seen Door Four or traveled outside the cave, can you be satisfied to live in the Shadows?

    (I like your point: It's not about a gap year... it's a gap life!

  • You're welcome Chase. I do like the point that you state the fact that our lives are programmed and what we typically would like to do stage our lives. I never really hear of this concept of the gap year. I'm not familiar with it and I'm sure you are because you may have experienced this while being out of the country.

    And I do agree that having a programmed life does seem boring and we should go out and take adventures. Often times different is good because it is not the same as something else that is already out there in the world.

  • @Floreta, it's not late! It's all part of the journey. Your compass didn't tell you it was time til now, and, now it's time.

    @Don, I like (and appreciate) the cave/door#4 analogy. Makes me think that the Door #4 Life is much bigger than just the "gap year" mentality. And you're right, it's definitely a Gap Life!

    Thanks to you both for reading!

    And, thanks again Kelvin! Yeah, the "gap-year" is definitely on the rise in the States, but... think beyond the year! haha ;)

  • The Amish "program" in a gap year. The expect their youth to go "English" for a year. Academics embraces the "gap" year via the sabbatical.

    The sabbatical was every seven years, but I like "gap life" better.


  • Don, you seem to be a bit familiar with all of this. I find it quite interesting to know something know beyond what I may hear every blue moon.

  • Wow, nice post! I especially like the ending where you say that the journey is the destination - I've never thought about it like that before.