We’re living out of our suitcases at the moment, staying with friends for just over a week before we leave Australia for Ireland. As I look at the bags and their contents spilling out I feel frustration that there is still too much stuff. I want them to be lighter, easier to pack, more manageable. Why on earth did we choose a cold country to start our adventure? Shorts and t-shirts would have been so much easier to pack! But most of all, when I look at the pile of bags, I’m reminded that this is about to be all the possessions that we own. Simon is busy arranging our car to be sold, there are (more!) bits and pieces to be donated to charity, and then that’s it. Shit is getting real around here.
But, does this lack of worldly possessions bother me, and are there any regrets? Truthfully, no, (at least, not yet anyway, it’s still early days). But seeing everything we own taking up tiny real-estate on our friends lounge room floor is a stark reminder of the life that we have rejected. Housesitting in the Bega Valley, it was easy to feel like we were simply holidaying. Away from regular contact with loved ones, our conversations via skype revolved around the sight-seeing jaunts that we were regularly off on. But being here in the home of some dear friends, and having Mum tear up on the phone as we approach D-Day has bought reality crashing back. It’s easy to leave stuff behind, but people, well that’s a whole other ball game.
We’ve blogged about it before. Telling our family and friends was, and still is, the hardest part of Our Global Adventure. Aside from knowing how much they would miss us, and especially the children, there’s a whole other huge problem that we knew we were causing all along. We may have insulted them. We call it ‘insult by default’. It’s the elephant in the room, but it’s time to clear the air. Time to come clean and say, ‘we know we’ve rejected YOUR way of life, but we’re not rejecting YOU.’
Everyone we know works hard, (some in jobs they do not enjoy) to pay their mortgage and utility bills. We’ve chucked it all in. We don’t want to work those things, we’ve chosen to work for family experiences and travel instead. But that does not mean that we are judging others for getting up and going to work each day, paying superannuation, buying new houses or a rockin’ home entertainment system. Not once have we considered them fools for doing so, we just have to acknowledge that the things we all work for are individual choices. Most of the people we know have little interest in travelling long term. What’s right for one family won’t always be right for another.
I was a school teacher, most of my friends are school teachers. But we have rejected the mainstream education system. Again, this could be considered to be an insult to what they do each day. On the contrary, we don’t see it this way. Simon and I have always had immense respect for all the great teachers we know. Their hearts are in the right place, and they work to make a difference to the students in their charge. I guess it comes down to a frustration we felt as parents about the system that our kids were being educated in. Large classes, standardised tests and prescribed curriculums, these are the things that we are rejecting. We knew that our kids, and all the other kids we know and love would probably do just fine in this system, but that’s not to say that there isn’t other ways of educating children that can be equally successful. Again, our choice is not a judgment on others decisions about their children’s education, or all the great teachers working hard every day.
By default, we may have insulted people, but that was never our intention. We’re rejecting a way of life, not the people in it. On a broader level there is also the chance that we are insulting others by choosing to leave Adelaide, or even Australia. We hope that we haven’t made others feel this is the case. Yes, it might look as though our decision is based on a ‘grass is always greener’ feeling. But we don’t compare life in Australia with life abroad. Both have good and bad aspects, a month from now we will be dreaming of Australian sunshine whilst wet and cold in Ireland, but at the same time our minds will be blown by 1000+ years of history on our doorstep. It is what it is, and we’ve chosen to travel abroad to have an ‘Adventure’ into the unknown. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with living Down Under.
We are making major changes for our family to follow our dreams; to carve out worldly experiences for our children. But the thing about dreams is that they are incredibly personal. Every family strives for something that is important to them and it’s not for us to say whether those dreams are right or wrong. The important part is knowing what your dream is, and chasing it. One, five or ten years from now, when the dust has settled, I hope that others think of us fondly as dream chasers.