Sitting here, I’m currently somewhere over the Atlantic. Depending on which timezone you prefer, it’s either 2am in the morning, 9pm the night before, or some other placement of one’s own choosing. I’ve been in the air for almost 8 hours, with another 4 to go, and that’s just leg one. Then again, I’m midway through the opportunity of a lifetime and nearly there to one of the top seven continents in world, so I suppose a single long travel day is more than worth it.
Looking back, there’s no one moment to define this adventure. Moments have been insane (hello walking home at 8am in the morning), mundane (me, food delivery apps, and Netflix made for quite a wonderful Saturday), sheer joy (enter countless explorations with this crew we call Meraki), and frustration (enter countable, though I won’t, moments with the same crew).
Some days it’s easy to say “there’s no way I can go back to ‘normal.’” Other days this feels astonishly normal. The truth is, there’s still a 9-5, even if timezones shift those hours one way or another. There’s still the daily grind of shopping for food, finishing work, weighing the options of going out or staying in, and always wondering if the choice you made yesterday was the right one.
On the other hand, I’ve traveled to five countries, with at least seven still ahead, drank in all that those countries had to offer (literally and figuratively), hiked to higher heights than ever before, found family in seventy strangers, and have no doubt that the next six months will be even more unexpectedly amazing than the last.
So should you do this? Absolutely Yes. And Absolutely No. And Absolutely Maybe (does that even work…?). The truth is, this life is not for everyone, but perhaps it should be. There’s something vital about tossing oneself into a sea of unknowns, all the while surrounded by people who soon, if not already, know you better than anyone else. I’ve long stated that I’m the type of person to jump off a cliff and build a hangglider on the way down. What I’ve learned these last months is that while that might be true, at least on occasion, I’d far rather jump off said cliff with a few dear friends and work with them all to build a jet instead.
On the flip side, there’s something amazingly dear about home, and all that comes with it. Perhaps for you that’s a place, perhaps it’s people, perhaps it’s something else entirely. For many here, home is the group we travel with, location, situation, and crisis be damned. For myself, that’s half the story. Home is a where I can both be bettered by those around me (as I am here) and where I can also make those around me better. While I hope I’ve had some of that impact in these last few months, I’m not naive enough to pretend that this trip will last forever. Come January 2018, or perhaps February (sorry mom), I’ll leave this traveling life and return to “normal,” whatever that might be.
On the one hand, that means a place to invest long-term, not just for one year but five or ten or twenty. On the other hand, that means leaving behind (at least on some level) the family I’ve built here and the wondrous madness that they all offer. That’s thrilling. In the most literally sense. In the sense that recalls skydiving and bungee jumping are “thrilling.” In the sense that it’s terrifying, but something that needs to be done, and once the threshold is crossed, offers greater unknowns ahead.
When I left for this trip, I said I’d return to Denver, “no question.” That’s still probably true, but the “no question” should really be dropped. I still, foolishly perhaps, think I know what I want for my life when I return, but an honest reflection of this journey so far suggests that when jumping into the unknown, you can learn far more if don’t pretend to know it all beforehand.
So with that, here’s to the next six months of jumping. Of building jets, helicopters, hanggliders, and even occasionally crashing full speed into the ground below. To cultivating family along the way. To investing in those near and those far. And to learning to cherish the surprises that life offers, rather than “knowing” how to handle them ahead of time.
To the crew that have been my friends for life, even if was all crammed into six months (so far), thank you.