05 Feb Three years of freedom and not giving up
It has been just about three years since we left Australia to embark on this lifestyle, give or take a few days. I’m not very good at remembering what day it is any more, unless I have a skype call to make or a toy being delivered. I am sure I would be more than capable of remembering the day if I needed to, but the glorious thing about my life, is that I don’t need to.
Five years ago I was a miserable ball of stress, until I decided it was time to make a change. I spent two years saving all my money in preparation for a journey I (we really, Sarah and I) had not decided yet we would take, I just knew that I had to change something. Two years later, with money in the bank, long brewing plans came into fruition and we decided to hit the road until we either got bored or ran out of money. Three years after that and I now know that there will likely never be anything that makes me stop this lifestyle.
RIDING THE WAVE
When we first left Australia I had this feeling that I used to verbalize to people, I felt like Sarah and I were on the crest of a cultural wave. I felt like this thing we were doing was becoming more mainstream and that some day soon we would realize we were part of a revolution, that the world was changing and more and more people were going to be giving up their desks and finding ways to be free.
Three years on I am thinking that maybe my views were skewed quite heavily by my own excitement to be doing something I never thought possible for myself. There seems to be a trend backwards now, that wave has broken and people are drifting back to a version of the lives they had before.
My place is not to judge, and everyone has their reasons for choosing the path they are on, but when I am so excited by my version of this nomadic lifestyle, my ongoing freedom and the plethora of choices which continue to open before me because I have given them the chance to present themselves, I can’t help but be surprised by what seems to me a backwards motion.
A few weeks before I left Australia, one of my bosses said to me, “You’ll be back. Six months, maybe a year, but you’ll be back.”. At the time I laughed and agreed that maybe he was right. These were untested waters and who knew what could happen. A few days later he committed suicide, leaving behind two kids and a boat load of money.
It is hard to determine how much of an effect that had on me. I was sorry none of us could have helped him. He had even mention to me that “Hell, maybe I will come join you in Thailand and leave all this shit.”. He of course had choices, but for some crazy reason which must have made sense in his head at the time, he only had one choice.
His death pushed me even more and helped affirm that the sadness I myself felt most of the time and the desperation for change was indeed something I should pay heed to. He could not imagine leaving that life behind, so he ended it. I am just grateful that life led me in a direction where I was able to make the hard choices which led me to where I am today.
MY FELLOW NOMADS
Which is why it is so hard for me to understand this return to the everyday world I see so many people suddenly taking. Most of them read this blog (or at least skim it), and so if they read this I don’t want them to take offence. Like I said we all have our own reasons for making the decisions we do. But if I am being honest with them and myself, I don’t know how after tasting the freedom this lifestyle gives you, you could be willing to give that up. I hope that your chosen path brings you happiness, and that you don’t fall back into the lifestyle which led you to seek this nomadic existence in the first place. I hope you are happy regardless of the choices you now make.
I have read it a number of times from a number of different sources, that either you are a traveler and will cling to this lifestyle with everything you have, or it will get too much for you and you will let it go after a year or two. Three years on I see and understand that now more than ever. I have met some amazing people in the last three years, also some not so amazing people, but the beauty of being a traveler is that it is easy to leave those ones in the rear view. I know I am a nomad, albeit a very stationary one.
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
So, three years on the road. Three years without a base or a solid routine. Three years with more ups and downs than an ADHD kid on a seesaw. Three of the undoubtedly best years of my life. Three years which are leading into even better years, something I didn’t think possible. For me the secret to not just enduring, but loving travel for three years and more, is listening to my mind and body when it tells me that it wants to stop. Three years on the road would be enough to make anyone scream for normality or routine, or question their choices.
Luckily in our fist six months we figured out more or less how we wanted to spend our lives, and six months after that we had it down pat! Now, it is not about the travel, the travel adds a wonderful spice to the whole thing of course, but the meat and potatoes of it all is the freedom! Freedom to wake up and go to sleep where ever and whenever you want. I could not trade that in for anything. Unless life throws me some crazy curve ball that changes everything, some version of this lifestyle is me until the day I die. Which not coincidentally, would not seem as tragic as it would have three years ago.
BREAK IT DOWN
In three years I have done and seen more than I did in my previous thirty years. But more importantly, I have achieved on more consecutive days something I used to pray for in my previous life, something more precious than adventure, more enduring than happiness, and more rewarding than the biggest bank account in the world. More days than not, I am content with what my life has become.
In the last three years I have laughed and smiled uncountable times, every single day. I have visited and lived in more than a dozen countries. I have met and befriended people from all over the world, and learned invaluable lessons from each of them about who I am and my place in this world. I have seen some of man-kind’s greatest creations, and mother nature’s most jaw dropping scenes. I have soaked up the sun on beaches, hiked across mountains, visited the Tibetan foothills and wandered around ancient ruins. And not for nothing, I learned how to fly. I have created memories that will last a life time, and more importantly, created opportunities I cannot wait to get stuck into. Three years in my old life would pass by with hardly anything worth mentioning, a holiday here and there maybe. Three years in my new life? More precious memories than I can possibly hold on to. (Check out the Gallery at the end of this post).
WHERE LIFE LEADS YOU
I realize that everyone has their own path to follow. I realize that my views are skewed towards my own happiness and that I should think twice before preaching. But I often find myself telling those closest to me about how wonderful this life is, not because I want to brag, but because I hope it might spur them on to find their own version of freedom. Which is why I hope that those friends and acquaintances who I have met on the road – who shared similar experiences, who already took that first difficult leap into this lifestyle but are now second guessing it – that you have sucked every bit of joy out of this, that you are not returning to the things you left behind for a reason.
Each of us has our own paths to follow and as often as not we take a few steps down the wrong ones. The hard part is looking forward to where those paths might eventually lead and adjusting course accordingly. I only bring this up because I feel Sarah and I were lucky enough to make some choices early on which make staying the course easier than most. But even if we hadn’t, I like to think we would still be heading in this very same direction.
But enough about all of you. You are old enough and ugly enough to make your own choices without the preaching of a bearded fool who can’t say no to cats.
Three years. Today, tomorrow or the next day it will be three years we have been living this life, and many the things I have seen, the things I have felt and experienced have shown me life is more amazing than I ever imagined. The countries and cultures I have luxuriated in have made me giddy with joy and wonder. The late mornings and lazy weekday strolls along tropical beaches and mountain passes. The food I have shovelled through my pie hole and the endless amounts of time I have meandered my way through have been joyous.
Some things have been tough, some places have been horrible. But as I sit here now with the sun rising over the Colorado Rocky mountains, contemplating the endless opportunities which await us, I am eternally grateful for every choice I have made, good or bad, which led me to this point.
When you let go of fear, when you embrace the difficulties and make them your bitch, when you jump up from the mire and believe that the world is yours if only you want it enough, you will find a life of plenty waiting for you.
I was blind but now I see, Hallelujah and Amen! It’s my party and I’ll preach if I want to (you could preach too if it happened to you).
I wish you all a marvelous life whichever path you walk down. Below are just a few of the thousands of images of Sarah and I smiling, laughing, meeting people and seeing amazing things. A drop in the ocean of this last amazing three years, just to remind you (and us) how amazing life can be.