Why? Written in 2007, Equally True in 2012

August 27, 2012 in Inspiration

Official portrait before we left on our bike trip: 2007

I happened upon this post in our website overhaul

So much water has flowed under the bridge since I first wrote it, but it was stunning to me, how spot on it still is.

Would you like to get a window into our world and thought process in 2007, before we hit the road:

Here it is:

The most asked question.

The easiest to answer. The hardest to make other people understand the answer to.


Why would we, home owners, parents of four children, members of a solid community, in our mid thirties, with a six figure income, having worked‚ “our whole lives,” to get where we are, drop it like a hot rock?

Why would we sell our house in it’s idyllic wooded setting, sell our cars and most of our worldly goods?

Why would we put our children’s educations on hold?

Why would my husband give up his, “good, solid, dependable job,” in favor of homelessness and an uncertain career future?

Why would we walk away from everything that makes so much sense to everyone we know into only God knows what, dragging our four precious children in tow?

Why indeed.

Our easy answer: Because we have to. We’ve worked our, “whole lives,” to. It has been a slowly germinating seed of an idea in our souls from the day we took our first breaths. It is our destiny.

That makes perfect sense to us.

It is the next logical step in a long series of steps: meeting one another, joining our hearts and lives, building homes, selling homes, having babies, moving cross country, working up the career ladder, saving money, changing diapers, packing tiny babies on impossibly long trips by car, plane, boat, you name it.

Placing our fourth baby’s toes in the Atlantic, Pacific and the far side of the Hawaiian Pacific before his sixth month began. Climbing pyramids on short trips to condition the kids and build endurance. Doing tooth brush drills at the kitchen sink to train them out of the habit of using potentially contaminated water. All baby steps toward an end.

How to make people understand.

That’s the tough part. How to explain that nebulous sense of, “right‚” that pervades our souls as we move away from all that makes sense. Where to start.

How,’bout standing over Mim’s casket with a palpable sense of her presence even though she is certainly not there. Nothing fits in that box but the dusty shell of her humanity. No house. No money. No cars. No fancy titles or prestige. Nothing that has any physical substance at all… except the pony of Kahlua I tucked in next to her… the only thing I know for sure that she’ll want on the other side and I suspect will be conspicuously lacking at the bar in heaven.

The only thing that goes out with us is who we are: our experiences, our relationships, our memories and the heart strings we’ve tied.

That’s it. Nothing else. Then why do most humans spend their short spin around the sun on the stuff that doesn’t fit in the box?

Note to self: Invest in the eternal.

What do I have right at this moment that is eternal? A beautiful husband and four fabulous kids. Start there.

We have a confession to make: We don’t want our kids to be normal.

That’s why we don’t send them to school. That’s why we travel them like crazy. That’s why we let them be who they are and live their lives in as much freedom as we can muster the nerve to give them. It actually makes me break out in a cold sweat to imagine that my kids would grow up with a white-middle-class-American mindset as the full scope of their experience. There is so much more to the world and we Americans tend to be such a narrow minded, short sighted bunch… just ask the rest of the world, they’ll tell you who we really are.

As soon as it was practical we had our kids alone in a swirling third world city, the only English speakers within miles, ordering their own subway tokens and beginning to feel “normal” in the real, sticky, dirty ‚”rest of world” experience. May they never feel a part of the “Wal-mart Generation.”

Our goal since we had one fluffy haired, pink faced baby girl and no concept of the wild storm that was blowing three boys our way was to touch her tiny feet to the six inhabitable continents before we emancipated her to her own path.

This trip is part of that long term plan.

Our goal is multi-lingual, culturally adaptable and adept children who step lightly on the planet and can see both sides of a social, political, religious or national issue.

A tall order to be sure. It seems to us that one way to quietly accomplish that goal is to walk them across a few continents as students of the world. We’re not just doing it for the kids though. We’re doing it for us.

We know so many people who are hanging their hearts and their hopes and their dreams on that nebulous phase of life referred to as “retirement.” People say it all the time: “When I retire I’m going to ….” fill in the blank.

How many people never make it?

Many, it seems. We know people still working full time jobs at sixty-some years old. Folks who, on a Tuesday afternoon in their forties, wake up with a debilitating disease that shatters their dreams for this lifetime. Parents who turn around to find their sweet children grown and gone, having missed all of those opportunities to do fabulous things because they were”too busy.”

How sad.

We are tangibly aware that we only get this one tiny moment in history to walk this beautiful world, created for our enjoyment. How could we spend our youngest, healthiest years, the years we get to share with four humans from the next generation who will live on into a future we’ll never see, serving money? Serving things? Serving someone else who benefits more from our labor than we do? We can’t.

How could we spend our whole marriage running different directions? How many years will we add to my husband’s life by taking a year or two in his thirties to step out of the rat race and push pedals up and down for thirty miles or so every day? After only 13 years of marriage we’re feeling the stress of life taking it’s toll and the weight accumulated by our comfortable American lifestyle is settling around our mid-sections. This is not good. A change is necessary for body and soul. We want to take a year and a half of honeymoon time in the middle of our marriage, lest we become those middle aged folks who look up from their newspapers and coffee one morning and stare across the table at someone they know longer know or love.

We’ll spend 24-7 for fifteen months or so living one life together… no his and hers… no running two different directions for the same goal… we’ll show our kids what it means to live and love and learn together.

There are lots of details.

Lots of, “What ifs.” Lots of, “Well, have you thought about this…” to wade through, to be sure.

We’ve spent two years planning, making lists, researching, reading, training, dreaming and ordering our lives to allow us to cut the bow line on our life and set ourselves adrift in the ocean of the whole world and see where the current takes us.

For those of you who love us enough to actually worry about such things, yes, we have written our wills. We have saved enough money to do this and are investing our house money so that we won’t end up homeless on your couch with our four kids. We’ve gotten all of our shots and are taking a water filter. We’ve thought about the schooling part and they won’t come back behind, we promise.

It might look like we’re just walking away from a life, but we’ve considered the consequences and counted the cost… of both going and staying home… and we have to go.

Five years later: 2012 Pai, Thailand