Last night, as my 5-year-old son clutched a painting his aunt had given him during his recent time in Santa Barbara, I again wondered if this whole idea of open-ended round-the-world travel was the right thing for us, right now. He was sobbing uncontrollably and there was nothing I could do to help him. He’d pull the painting back and look at it and begin crying again, wiping away tears with the corner of the painting. He missed his grandma. He missed his aunt Michelle.
For a while now, my wife and I have been working toward our plan to eventually set off on a season of perpetual travel. Jackson’s tears weren’t the first thing to make me question the plan. It’s a question Monica and I have been asking ourselves since our Central America trip in the fall.
We feel some pressure to “set-off.” We’ve become friends with a lot of nomadic families and others who are planning perpetual travel adventures. Everyone wants to know our exit date. When will we “set-off.”
It’s a question I’ve never been quite comfortable with because to me it implies that I’m not enjoying life now. The implication is that right now I am trudging through life but I’ve got this date on the calendar when we’ll eventually become a nomadic family traveling the world and then life will be great.
My life is great now. I love Lake Tahoe. My life was an adventure as a college student in Indiana. The adventure continued when I moved to Santa Barbara. Now, the adventure continues in Lake Tahoe where I ski 50+ days a year and enjoy all the mountain life has to offer in the summer months when we’re not off on a trip to Central America or some other corner of the world.
Still, I do want to “set-off” on a season of perpetual travel. I read about the adventures of some of my nomadic friends and think, “I want to do that.”
There’s a part of me, though, that wants what I have now. There’s a part of me — a part of the essence of who I am as a person — that is only expressed when I am traveling. There’s a part of me that was born to travel. Yet there’s this other part of me — a part of the essence of who I am — that is only expressed when I am home. There’s a part of me that was born to be home.
This feeling of wanting to be two people and be two places at once has never been more accurately described for me than by Don Blanding in his poem The Double Life.
How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One.
And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell,
But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content
With hearth and home — dear prisonment,
With candlelight and well-loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,
With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun,
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where…just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.
One eye turns to the forward track,
The other eye looks sadly back.
I’m getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It’s tough to have an idle brain)
But One says “Stay” and One says “Go”
And One says “Yes,” and One says “No,”
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter’s life.
The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.
I long for nomadic living. There’s a freedom that comes with having all your possessions in only a backpack. But there’s that other self shackled to the restless me. It’s the self who loves setting the table with my grandmother’s china and going to my wine cellar and pulling out a bottle I’ve been saving and pouring it into my crystal decanter. That self loves the art Monica and I have collected and displayed in our home. That self loves his treasured loot in dusty nooks.
And as I enjoy a great dinner at home in this setting that I love, I read Facebook status updates from friends in Thailand and Mongolia and India and Patagonia and I want to be there.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been negotiating with my two selves. Monica and I have discussed the idea of moving somewhere new. We’ve looked at places in South America and Southeast Asia and have thought that maybe we’ll move and establish a new home in a new place to experience new things. But Thailand is a long way from grandma and aunt Michelle, and I also didn’t expect I’d come to love Tahoe as much as I do. I love to ski. I love it. It has become the great act of happiness in my life. We could spend winters in Tahoe and still have 6 months a year to travel. There is the question of our home here and carrying that cost. Could we rent it out 6 months a year?
What I want… what I really want is all of the above.
When I think about my life in a broad sense I think I’d like there to be a season of my life when we spend winters in Tahoe and the rest of the year traveling. I’d like to live in Southeast Asia for a few years or South America for a few years. I’d like there to be a time in my life when I set off on perpetual travel.
Whatever season we’re in now or preparing for next, three important tenants remain the same.
- No debt.
- Keep expenses low.
- Location independent income.
So, when do we set-off?
We already have.
I’m on a quest to work less, live more, and travel the world with my family. I am trying to live very intentionally and trying to arrange my life so that it reflects what I value most. If you’re on a similar journey I’d like to know about it. Reach out, let’s get connected, and let’s support one another. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or you can subscribe to our RSS.