Gibbs was a man at war with boundaries.
He grabbed his bike, miscellaneous other road- trip-type things, and headed out on what he calls his “Exodus” tour.
The son of Dick and Boots Tolsdorf, who reside on the island, Gibbs started his journey on October 1 and has been blogging about his experiences. He started in New York City, then headed to Syracuse. Niagara Falls was his next stop, and he’s currently in Toronto. From there he’ll hit Detroit, heading west, and expects to be in Los Angeles in January.
“I’m on a journey to do whatever I feel like,” he said. “I wasn’t always this way. I started out well, but then I faltered.”It sounds like a familiar story to many of us. A few years ago, though, when Gibbs first felt the nagging sensation that all wasn’t right in his world, he did what most of us don’t have the courage to do. He put all of his random wish lists into a cohesive plan to “leave it all behind,” and that is exactly what he did.
“I decided I would stage an Exodus and live my dream,” he said. “I’ve created the blog so people can follow me, if they choose to do so. Somewhere along the way I want to inspire others to live their dream as well.”
Gibbs was born in Wilmington, Del., a town he classifies as one that no one would be likely to put on their list of places to see in the United States.
He grew up in West Chester, Pa. and has fond memories of the place.
“It’s beautiful, and was named after Cheshire, England, and for good reason,” he said. “Both places have lots of horses and farms, and rolling hills. Although in Cheshire the streets are much narrower and they don’t have Genesee Cream Ale, which is all I remember my dad drinking when I was a kid. That and big gallon jugs of Gallo red wine. I don’t think they have that in England, either.”
He grew up with a brother, Christopher, who is three years older than him.
“It took us 37 years to like each other, but once we did I felt a foot taller,” he said.
He also has fond memories of his first dog, named Brixie. Brixie was a “Lassie-type” dog, according to Gibbs, and the experience of having that dog taught him a valuable life lesson.
“We went on vacation when I was young and left her with my grandfather,” Gibbs explained. “She ran away during a thunderstorm and we searched incessantly for her after cutting the vacation short. It wasn’t until I was 23 that my father slipped and I discovered that she was hit by a car. I vowed never to lie to my (still non-existent) children about that kind of thing. All that time I was sure that she had wandered onto a beautiful farm somewhere and spent the remainder of her days just running through sunflower fields, chasing horses, and pooping wherever she felt like it.”
Gibbs is a bit of comedian who used to want to be a professional hockey player, but his father thought it might be best if he had a back-up plan. As he got older he realized that his father was right, and he decided to become a businessman. He attended school at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
“It is, in fact, a co-ed college,” he said, referring to the famous college’s “all-girl” reputation. “If it hadn’t been, I would have been extremely lucky, but also extremely confused regarding the exception. I majored in philosophy in the hopes to never make money, but always continue to question.”
He bought his father’s company in 2003 and did his best to turn it around. He got lucky, though hard work did play a part in his triumph.
“I worked hard because I had to, after losing everything and more starting a company in New York City in 1999,” he said. “I have a general manager who runs the business now, and he is fantastic because he has the genes for the role. Managing people is a unique skill that no business school will teach you, and he nails that bullseye on every throw.”
He continued, “At the moment, I only work on making the most of every day. I don’t have a ‘job’. In fact, at a very young age I knew I didn’t want a ‘job’. I have only worked for a few people, and mostly they fired me or I quit when I felt like they were about to fire me. I’m best working for myself.”
Gibbs said he believes that by starting out well and faltering, it helped him to do what he really wanted to do: To keep exploring, to keep moving, and to keep meeting new people.“I had to get a job at some point, because this is the common way of feeding, clothing, and sheltering yourself,” he said. “But I knew I couldn’t do it forever, and I knew that the pull to move along would come calling … and it did.
Gibbs said that one of the most important things he has learned from traveling is to go the opposite direction of the crowd, and to open your heart, eyes, and hands.Spontaneity is the name of the game with his blog. He has several videos from his trip so far, including several of him bicycling at various locations, and one that focuses on an argument with a Thule fairing on his tricked-out Audi S5.
The traveler, comedian and writer has listed some words of wisdom on his blog that few can ignore. Whether you agree with his idea to travel and complete his “bucket list,” or feel he should be working every day as many of the rest of us do, there are things to be learned from everyone’s philosophy. And Gibbs doesn’t really seem to care whether his methodology is socially acceptable or not, which is refreshing in and of itself.
“Living the dream to me means getting my most basic priorities straight and adhering to them in all of my decisions, letting go of all of my fears, ignoring my inner skeptic and inspiring others to take steps towards living their own dream,” he said. “What does living your dream mean to you? Are you doing it?”
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