The last few blog postings have been all kicks and giggles... as it should be. However, I've been inundated with emails from people thanking us for sharing our experiences, inspiring them to think differently about their lives, and urging us to keep going.
There's a problem... we're all inspired by surfing the web. In fact, "we" surf all of the time... WIFI connection permitting. We seek others who are getting off the grid in their own way, we seek inspiration... and above all, we seek validation. Are we doing the right thing?... for our children, for ourselves and are we living the best life we can in our short time on this earth?
As a family we often have long conversations about the future, where we are going and what lies at the end of the rainbow. I remember having these conversations with Doreen on and off for over 20 years, and they usually came up when we we're at a low or a high point in our lives. The bits in the middle are a blur as we were just going with the flow and maintaining a lifestyle. I'm sure this sounds familiar to most readers of this blog.
So, I'm looking for action. But, what is "action" and why do people take the first steps to make good on their promise to themselves and significant others? I'd love to say that we laid out a well defined plan 5 years ago and have been executing that plan perfectly. I'd love to take the credit for being adventurous and bold, for "going where no man has gone before"... but I can't.
Life is a tricky thing and 99.9% of people have no control over their lives... really, we've tried to control our life but have had little influence. We're controlled by the "events" in our lives... and the film "Lemony Snicket's A series of Unfortunate Events" is the closest thing that most of us have to a plan for every day living. We have many highs and lows, dead end jobs, small businesses, feast or famine, family up and downs, and generally go with the flow... sound familiar?
It may not be obvious or we just don't want to believe that we don't really have much control. I have friends with master plans, big dreams and paths to wealth.. but, events are what shape and define that plan, no matter how obstinate you are about following it. Our plan is simple... keep going until you find something or an event that redirects the flow. But, I digress... this post is about "action" and how we got off the couch, away from the TV and found some freedom and adventure.
It was simple... the economy sucked, our house wasn't worth the price we paid and the cost of living in the US was going through the roof, with income stagnant since the early 90's... we'd been basically going backwards for 20 years. We had been talking about "escaping" for a few years and even made some attempts to actually do it. But, events always got in the way,.. redirected us. The last big influence was peer pressure... "you must buy a home". Which we did of course, but not by blowing half a million bucks as the bank suggested (I just kept seeing a huge suit case of money and no way to pay it off without pulling an "Italian Job"). So we went small and then spent 3 years and every penny rebuilding a real fixer upper to make it perfect. These events taught us a lot... independence & self confidence, how to do everything yourself and only heightened our urge to "get away" on an adventure.
The actual turning point was not during a "high" or "low" as you might expect, but during a "maintaining" period. There was work so income was ok, we had everything we needed and a beautiful small home, the kids were growing fast and we'd become comfortable with the fact that our home might be worth something in ten or fifteen years... boring, boring, boring. In reality I was working all of the time... or chasing the next project, the kids were home schooled at this point "(the state of education or "day care factories" in the US is another post). But they seemed to be slipping into a rut, becoming lethargic, and their energy, lust for life and daily excitement had transitioned to a reliance on video games, TV, and their parents to entertain them. We all spend too much time watching the TV, living our adventures through the Discovery Channel or escapism through video games and movies. Our lives were being controlled by events being pumped through the TV... war on terror, unemployment reports, CNN, politics, religion and doom & gloom.
The action came one morning over coffee... I told Doreen that I might do something crazy and uncertain... "Would you come along for the ride and leave everything behind"?... she looked thoughtful for a moment. After 20 years of marriage she knew not to ask "what" so that it didn't influence her answer to this very simple question... "YES"
That wasn't an "event" it was an action, the defining moment, the promise of commitment to each other and our family... the next question was "What"?... remember, we don't actually have a plan.
We thought about driving around the world in a truck and trailer, backpacking, buying some land in the mountains. We had so many ideas and excitement about the proposition of doing something crazy. We researched every way we could travel with the kids, live simply, and provide food, shelter and educate for our family.
It took about a month to make a decision on the "What"... for us it was a boat, we love the ocean, we've been involved with boats for many years and I have a captains license. It's a big world so we need to cover a lot of ground and many different countries cost effectively... to find adventure and the next thing!
We bought a boat in California, rented out our house, trailered everything we owned across the country and worked on it for a winter... sold it because we had a crazy offer and a dead economy... it was taking too long and the kids would be seeking their own fortune in a few years.
We bought another boat "Odessa" in the Caribbean and spent a year renovating here to a safe seaworthy state... buying Odessa was the hardest decision to make. We had lucked out and sold our old boat... which put some cash in the bank and that "event" gave us the option to turn back, go home and "maintain" again.... it gave us a way out of this craziness.
But the trick is to be stubborn, single minded and keep going no matter what. That's exactly what we teach our children, "you can do anything you want... if you want it badly enough". And, we had really enjoyed our adventure so far, despite the challenges and fact that we hadn't actually left yet. We made everything an adventure, driving across the US twice, finding a temporary home in Napa, working on a boat, even selling everything we owned and renting the house out again... it was all exciting and scary at the same time.
Even after 6 months working on Odessa, a summer diversion in Paris working on a film project (we don't have any disposable income so work is still a daily preoccupation), a hurricane, and the trials and tribulations of rebuilding a boat in a foreign country... basically not having left anywhere yet. We are closer to our children, more in love with each other and happier than we've ever been in our lives... and we have always been generally very happy people.
So, that said... I'm looking for action. Action from everyone who has emailed us, every reader of this blog. Please comment, email and let us know what's holding you back, your worries, concerns, and most of all you're actions, triumphs, and achievements in heading towards an adventurous life. We are no different from anyone else, we need inspiration and validation, and I'd love to read your blogs, find about your dreams and adventure.