It doesn’t take much for my blood pressure to lower and my mind to slow, thereby entering that enviable state-of-mind that we humans call relaxation. I am, in fact, experiencing it at this very moment… sitting on the porch of my in-law’s lake house at 6:00am. The sky is a slate grey of clouds but occasionally, just occasionally, the sun peaks through to blanket the grass, trees and water with a golden hue. Birds are active at this time of the morning, calling out to each other in a cacophony of noise that pleases the ear with toots, drones and wails. The air is cool with little of that oppressive humidity which summer in Tennessee is notorious for providing. Later today the heat will come, but for now the morning embraces me with its mildness. It is hard to remain “eyes shut” on mornings like this.
Although at first a morning may appear still, life still rising from slumber, sitting here I discover activity is all around me, only noticeable when one takes the time to slow down and focus on that which we spend most of our time ignoring. Good coffee is a compulsory requirement in such circumstances. Walking through the empty house this morning (on my way to the porch) I was tempted to stop by the machine and draw myself a mug of freshly pulled “liquid gold.” Not wanting to disturb others with the methodical grinding, groaning and buzzing that the coffee makers emits when working it’s magic, I instead chose the road-less-traveled and bravely faced the outside worlds sans-caffeine.
15 hours later and the day still finds me porch bound. Oh, I’ve dragged myself away from idleness for a few hours during the heat of the day, but as the sun goes to sleep I’ve set my camera up to take photos every three minutes. The clouds don’t want to cooperate and I soon find my plans to capture the sunset thwarted, but no mind, there is plenty to photograph and even without colors the sky is something to behold. It is true that these events are often overlooked and overshadowed by the trivial events of our daily lives and in order to truly appreciate that which occurs right on front of our eyes, we must often shed everything (read: quit all employment) and go sit on the porch.
Driving in the car today I found myself thinking about this current situation in which we find ourselves. It’s not as though we are doing anything remotely remarkable. I mean to say, there are plenty of people, families even, that are out there doing much more adventurous things than we are. Yet we constantly find ourselves talking to family, friends and acquaintances who express substantial admiration, jealousy even, for what we are doing. Is it possible that people live lives so sheltered and without true adventure or risk that a simple move (albeit an international one) is something to be envious of? It’s not as if we are moving to Ulan Bator to open a testicle soup restaurant, is it? Or perhaps it is the few familial conventions that we are breaking? I think that people wind up feeling trapped by the commitments, expectations and requirements of the life that traditional society seem to demand that we pursue. Our shedding of these commitments, expectations and requirements is something that most people dream of doing and yet never cease making up excuses as to why they “could never… never ever, not me, I have too much going on. I would love to though… maybe one day” do it. Ultimately we are, after all, moving overseas without work prospects, stopping to visit several countries along the way, spending the better part of our hard-earned nest-egg, all the while dragging along our two-year old daughter. Many settled people would look down their noses and tell me what an irresponsible father I am being. So far I have not had to bear that particular burden.
As the prospect of a full day spent doing nothing washes over me I see clearly that which I have been struggling with for months. Whoever we are, whatever we do, the most important part is doing it together, as a family. Everything else is gravy. I have travelled on my own in the past, to many exciting places and it was great. But my true joy, learning and fulfillment comes from sharing an experience with others. And this adventure, with my family, however simple and un-adventurous, from the respective of those that choose to ride their bikes from Tehran to London, is my adventure and I will garner joy, lean innumerable quantities of things and obtain lasting fulfillment for the rest of my life. Surely that is worth our whole nest-egg? What are parents and in-laws for, if not a free bed?