I’ve been thinking about the future a lot these days, seeing as how I’m lost in a sea of options. Every day for the past three years we knew what we were doing; where we were going. We woke up and knew we would be getting back on the bikes and pedaling south. We may take a day or 30 off and we may take a detour here or there, but we knew where we were headed. Now, we’re lost. Directionless. Adrift in a whole sea of options.
It’s a bit confusing to think about all the options in this great big world of ours. We could, quite literally, go anywhere and do anything. How does one go about narrowing it down to doing just one thing?
But one of the biggest obstacles I’m facing right now is that whole “perception” thing.
We’ve been living the dream for so long, we expect nothing less from ourselves. We lived and taught in foreign countries for fourteen years. We’ve traveled the world on our bikes for five. We’re out there, doing it. Doing what so many Americans dream of doing. We’re living the dream big time.
For the past couple months, my inbox has been filled with people wondering what’s next. How does one “top” an adventure like ours? What kind of bigger and better event will come now?
I think there is a mindset in America and many other parts of the world that we always need to move on to bigger things. We earned five million dollars this year, next year we’ll earn six! Onward and upward! Bigger equals better.
And yet, I’m not sure there needs to be a bigger and better. Maybe we’ve done the biggest and the best and there is no need to top it. Maybe it can stand on its own.
I’ve learned a thing or two on this journey of ours, and one of them is that exotic is in the mind of the beholder. Living the dream can happen anywhere.
Once upon a time I used to look at all those “foreign” cultures and saw how different they were. How unusual and interesting and mysterious and glamorous… They dressed differently than I did, their houses were different, the food they ate was different. I traveled because travel was… well, exotic.
But now, I’ve been around the block a time or two and my perceptions have changed. I’ve seen that all humanity is more similar than different. We are more alike than unlike. We all have the same basic needs and we all develop our cultures based on the world around us. We eat foods that grow locally; we build houses with materials nature provides for us.
And after all this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the USA is a great place to live. Not because we’re “rich” or because we have this, that, and the other. It’s because we have everything – deserts, mountains, seasons, coasts… It’s a lovely place with amazing vistas you can reach from your doorstep no matter where that doorstep happens to be.
And yet – the USA is not “exotic”. It’s not unusual and interesting and mysterious and glamorous. Or is it?
I feel so fortunate that I can live in the USA. I can travel the USA for years and years and not need a visa stamp in a passport to do it. My friends from other countries are limited to a short three-month visit, but I can stay as long as I want. No paperwork, no visa applications, no bother.
And you know what? The USA IS exotic! It’s beautiful and glamorous and striking and out of the ordinary. It also happens to be home.
I keep hearing from others that we’ll be off again soon – and we very well might be. But maybe we’ll stay in Boise, Idaho and enjoy the exotic right there.
We’ve toyed with all the options – staying in Boise, continuing to travel full time, living in another country, travel half time… And all those options are still open, but I wonder about the “why”.
We could move to Argentina or Honduras or Thailand or Spain, but why? Would our lives really be that different? Better? We would still have to wash our clothes and do the dishes. We would need to clean the house and go grocery shopping and fix flat tires and pay the bills. We would just be doing the mundane in another place. Is that what exotic is all about?
I don’t know which option of many we’ll choose in the future, but I do know it’ll be exotic. It will be out of the ordinary and exciting. Even if it is Boise.