"Just Go" is the title of his book. It is also the mantra on which Bangor resident Chris Ruggiero has been developing his career as a traveling juggler, entertainer and entrepreneur — a career that has brought him from the Slate Belt to Singapore and elsewhere.
Ruggiero, who hosts "The Chris Ruggiero Podcast," said "Just Go" is many ways an extension of his podcast and his blog, the latter of which captures moments and interactions from his five years traveling across the country. Ruggiero also has his own clothing line, Between Dreams Clothing.
"The idea of writing a book was intimidating," Ruggiero admitted during an August interview in Downtown Easton. "I built up a lot of blog posts and then kind of adapted them and compiled them into the book, in very short chapters."
The blog, and the book, are inspired by discussions and conversations he has had with college students before and after performances. The goal of both, as well as the podcast, Ruggiero said, is to motivate others to explore their own passions and pursue their dreams. “They’re (students) trying to figure out their pattern in life. They see me doing something that they might not have ever known was possible to do," Ruggiero said of taking his variety show on the road. "They’re always so intrigued and inspired by that. (I thought) Oh, I can utilize this.”
The cover of "Just Go" captures Ruggiero walking along the same stretch of Highway 63 in Monument Valley, Utah, where Tom Hanks' titular character ends his famous cross-country run in the 1994 film Forrest Gump. "That was really cool to see," Ruggiero said.
One particular trip that continues to stick out for Ruggiero is a visit to a college located on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. He described the experience as "eye-opening."
"The Native American reservation is not what we were taught in school,” he said. “When I got there I was like, ‘This is the desert.’ There are huts and one Burger King for the tourists driving through … There’s nothing there.”
Being on the road has become somewhat of an old hat for the 2003 Bangor Area High School graduate. His one-man show -- a mix of juggling and comedy -- has taken him to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlantic City and Birmingham, Alabama. Ruggiero has performed at Musikfest in Bethlehem and on WFMZ-TV Channel 69. Before focusing on juggling, Ruggiero cut his teeth performing for crowds as a member of the rock band The Only Exception.
In 2012, Ruggiero traveled with a handful of NFL cheerleaders to the Diego Garcia military base as part of Pro Tour Productions and Armed Forces Entertainment, where he performed for American military personnel. "That still kind of stands out," Ruggiero said. "I flew to that island in the Indian Ocean and stayed there for two weeks and performed for the troops and came back through Singapore ... It's still one of the most grand things I've ever done."
The overseas excursion was Ruggiero's a-ha moment. Ruggiero said he quit student teaching to focus on a career in entertainment. "When I came back from (Singapore), that was the turning point," he said.
However, Ruggiero realizes the road to success is windy, marked by plateaus and dips. "When you reach for that horizon, you realize it never ends," he said.
"Just Go: Adventures of a Traveling Entertainer and a Guide to Living Your Dream" is available in paperback on Amazon.com.