***** Disclaimer *****
It’s a dangerous thing to have friends who are writers.
Perhaps even more dangerous to offer one a guest post on your blog, with complete license to write what she wants, with a promise to publish it, no matter what.
My friend Keri sent me this today.
I wrote her and asked to be allowed to edit it. To make it less Miller-centric. I think she’s given us too much credit & made more of us than there is.
She vetoed my request and asked that I publish it as sent.
So here it is. With my disclaimer.
“They’re crazy,” said one woman, “I can’t even take my kids to Munich, let alone bicycle with them for a YEAR.”
I lowered my eyes and sipped my coffee. Munich was only an hour and a half away.
Just days before their final flight back to the US, a friend had introduced me to the Miller family. I had no idea at the time that I would meet a kindred spirit and one of the best friends of my adult life.
Despite the fact that Jenn was a globe-trotting Gypsy-child, and I was a Midwest ‘city’ girl, we often said the same word or phrase at the same time. And we had such engaging discussions about children, education, writing, travel and life in general, by the end of those two days in Germany, I knew, as the famous movie line goes, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Thus, a few days after the Miller’s departure from Europe, I sat at the coffee group listening to the conversation and largely withholding my own opinion.
The general consensus of the table was that for anyone to A) homeschool, B) give up a ‘good job’ (meaning, material possessions) and C) spend vast amounts of time with their offspring, they must have lost their minds.
As the coffee party broke up, I felt sad for many of those ladies, because they just didn’t get the real point of the Edventure Project.
The Millers had simply figured out what was important in life and acted upon it.
After three years of forging our friendship online, my kids and I finally had the chance to spend time with the Miller family in their funky little shack at Cape Cod.
What was it like?
Kids (and not just those that went by the name of Miller) had meltdowns, moments of subtle, and not-so-subtle rebellion; and there were times when chores were ‘forgotten’ in the bliss of keeping company with long-lost friends.
For the few raucous moments there uncountable hours of peace and contentedness. At times, it felt like being in an artist colony, with people young and old(er) writing, sketching, singing, strumming, or creating something of value–even if intangible.
There were times for dishwashing and laundry and times for finding shells on the beach; there were times to punch out an article and times to drink wine (when age-appropriate) and knit.
The Millers have discovered that the true key to being content is to be here (wherever it may be) and to do it now.
A skeptic would say that it is much easier to enjoy life from a hammock by a tropical sea, rather than from a sleeping bag on the floor of a drafty cottage.
But the truth, which the Miller family lives out for the rest of us to see, is that if you are not happy where you are, you won’t be happy anywhere.
With my special dietary needs (gluten-free), and my preferences (vegan), and with one of my children disrupting the house with sleepwalking/night terrors (sorry, Hannah); and by the simple fact that my brood doubled the kid population of the cottage, thereby decimating the food stores, we were not exactly the easiest family to accommodate.
And yet despite all this, I never felt that Jenn had mentally traded her insulated Crocs for flip-flops.
She and Tony and the kids treated us like family, in the very best senses of the word: with patience, generosity, love and kindness.
Whether the Millers are flying, biking, boating, riding camels or pegging down their tent stakes for a while, they value people above all else.
Though they keep dreaming big dreams, and though they work hard planning the future, the Miller family is thoroughly engaged in the present-tense: relishing the highs and the lows that comprise their story.
Likewise, each of us should be inspired to adopt that simple theme, which the Miller’s life-narrative so clearly illustrates:
Be here. Now.