…but that’s not what they were built for.
More than once in the last little while, while talking to different people about our ‘grand adventure’, the comment “Wow, you’re so brave,” has come up. Brave? I have to admit, I’m not really understanding where this is coming from.
Are we brave because we plan on traveling a long way from home?
Are we brave because we’ll be in a different country, at least part of the time?
Are we brave because we’re getting rid of most of our physical possessions and our house?
Are we brave because we’re leaving our jobs without another one to go to?
To tell the truth, I’m not really feeling all that brave. Out of the kaleidoscope of emotions that I’m feeling at any one moment (excited, anxious, overwhelmed, impatient, restless, etc.), bravery doesn’t seem to be among them. But then, I’m not entirely sure that bravery is needed here.
What is there to be brave about? Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? The safety nets are firmly in place; insurance, nest egg from the house sale, trailer is bought and paid for. We’ll have money, food and shelter.
Car accident? Big deal. If we survive, there’s really nothing that can’t be replaced. If we don’t, then there’s nothing left to worry about, is there? Ok, we’re going to be on the road. A lot. I suppose there is always the chance of being robbed, a natural disaster, or (with my luck) a zombie apocalypse, but the chances of being involved in something like that aren’t really any different than if we stayed put. It could just as easily happen on the way to town as on the way to Texas.
As far as being in a different country, yes there are differences, the main one being the medical system. Rest assured, we are not putting one toe over the border until we have medical insurance. That was one of the only stipulations I gave when I agreed to do this. As far as any other differences, they’re really too small to matter much. I’m actually looking forward to a bit of culture shock.
If disaster does strike and we just can’t make it work, we can always come back home. We still have family in the area, and it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve started over from scratch.
We’re not going into this totally blind. We’ve done and are still doing research. Naturally there will be things we haven’t thought of, but we’re trying to minimize surprises. Yes, we’ll be in unfamiliar territory. Yes, we will be far from friends and family. Yes, we’ll be on our own a lot. Does that scare you? I’m sorry if it does. I fully expect it to be stressful, maybe even uncomfortable at times. But it’ll be so worth it.
Thanks to society’s expectations, and the media’s constant obsessing over materialism, most people are tied to the belief that you must have a sticks and bricks home, and you must have a secure, steady income. Well, I’ve got news for most people. Mike and I have been together almost 30 years, and nothing (underline nothing) has ever been secure. Not health, not mortgage rates and certainly not employment. Because of the fluctuating economy in the region, we have each changed jobs over the years at least a dozen times. How is that secure? With our skill sets (and the fact we’ll try just about anything once), neither one of us has ever had much of a problem picking up work. That’s how we’ve survived 30 years. And it will probably be how we’ll survive the next 30.
My parents often talked about how they would like to travel and see this or that. But it was always the same. Maybe next year, or after we get the house paid off, or once the kids are grown and on their own. For years, they scrimped and saved, only to have their nest egg depleted over and over again by those ‘rainy days’ everyone wants to save for. Finally in the fall of 2005, Dad got to retire. In April of 2006, we lost Mom to lung cancer. A short five years later, Dad joined her. So all of their planning, saving, sweating and toiling was for what? To find out that they didn’t get to go after all.
To hell with that. If my folks managed to teach me anything, it’s that life comes with no guarantees. If you don’t take the time and the chance now, there is absolutely no assurance that you’ll ever get a second chance. So if you think I’m brave, go ahead and think it. I’m more afraid than you’ll ever realize. I’m terrified of looking back on my life with regret and wishing I had done something this wonderful.
What we’re doing is giving ourselves a gift. A couple of years without the worry of mortgage payments, house repairs, layoffs, downsizing and the like. We’re taking our retirement now, while we’re still young enough to enjoy it. The money from the house should sustain us for a few years, and who knows? By then, maybe we’ll have scratched our itchy feet enough and want to settle down again. If not, then we’ll figure out a way to keep going, like we always have.
So am I brave? Not in the least. But the fear of missing out is so much stronger than the fear that society thinks I should have. In the meantime, think of the people we’ll meet. The things we’ll see. The experiences we’ll have. It all boils down to risk versus reward. I think it’s more than worth it.
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