Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why?



I feel some obligation at some point to go through some logistics for fellow travel planners, but I think that entry will have to wait.

I realized this morning that Tyler and I rarely get asked why we’ve decided to take this journey. We might get asked how we’re making it happen or why now or what about our jobs, but most people in our circle of friends and family seem to take for granted that travel for travel’s sake is a good thing. And—caught up in the logistics, last minute details, and exhaustion of moving and closing up life for awhile—it’s easy for me to lose sight of the “why” in face of the “how.”

During our honeymoon, Tyler and I took the Alaska State Marine Highway through Southeast Alaska. After the end of the two weeks of living like hobos on the ferry system, moving from town to town as the spirit moved us, and running into a handful of other intrepid travelers for whom Alaska was one stop on a longer journey, I had a serious itch to keep going. The Aleutians! Kodiak! Japan! New Zealand! It seemed like such a natural stepping stone to go see the world. But then we returned to Seattle, our lovely apartment, friends, jobs and the usual responsibilities. We still talked every once in awhile about wanting to travel—really travel, for more than 10-14 days—but I worried about having to give up a good job that I almost always find satisfying to pursue this whim. But after a few particularly grueling days at work, while brushing my teeth and staring at my world map on the wall, it hit me that life is short and that I would always regret it if Tyler and I never did this. We are as unencumbered as we may ever be—no kids, no pets, no mortgage. And I didn’t want to wait until we got old enough for Elderhostel to see and do things we care about now. Not terribly original, I know, but from that day on, Tyler and I got serious about saving, budgeting and planning.

Yet that still doesn’t really answer the “why.” Tyler and I are on a well-worn and comfortable path. If we weren’t doing this, we’d be house hunting and starting a family. But I think both of us feel a desire to get out of our comfort zone, be the minority, be uncomfortable, be awed, be jolted out of our normal routine. I want to have the time and space to think about what we want our life together to be like, how we want our family to be, what’s important to us. We usually get a few days of that every summer when we go backpacking, when our lives are reduced to getting water, fetching firewood, deciding how many miles to go that day and going to sleep not long after the sun goes down. And there are other less extreme ways to have the chance to get away and think (maybe spending a week out at the Dungeness Spit lighthouse, for example). But I think and hope that experiencing different cultures, lifestyles, standards of living, and places will help bring new fodder to these thoughts and conversations to help us shape our decisions and lives going forward.

1 comment:

ambika said...

You guys are rad.

That is all.

Wait, no. Travel for travel's sake is something I've always taken for granted, too. It's interesting to see you lay out the why, something I'm too shallow to reflect upon, and realize that my reasoning is generally the same. That and beaches. Nice beaches.