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Saving Your Own Life

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Saving your own life

Three days into our road trip, Joel turned to me and said something along the lines of, “Perhaps we could be permanent road nomads.”

It was a typical comment from the human who lives in the present, and struck me – the planner, the future-oriented, the just-over-the-horizon dreamer – as absolutely hysterical. We were only a few days into our adventure – the honeymoon phase – and of course it was all good vibes and feelings of bliss. Of course…

But was it simply a case of this being new and different and therefore feeling exhilaratingly good? Maybe the cynical side of me – the familiar voice inside my head questioning what's right in front of me – is what was so quick to dismiss Joel’s assertion that we could do this forever.

Perhaps what we are experiencing in these first few days is pretty darn special and is representative of what we will continue to find along the way: incredibly kind and generous people, eager to let us in to their homes and lives, and meandering conversations that enliven the spirit, fill us with a hopeful feeling of what could be.

What could be: three little words that carry so much weight.

What could be were the words that inspired this journey. As we have discussed here before, it was after some serious conversations and an assessment of our lives that we realized change was called for, and that the only people who could save our lives were, well, us.

What I know now is there were some clear indicators - for many years - that I wanted to make a drastic change in my life. Indicators like the frequency with which I shouted “TGIF!” on Friday mornings, without a hint of irony. Signs like looking at other people’s lives – especially creative people, writers, farmers – with extreme envy rather than a more benign feeling of admiration. Because the things I enjoyed doing were not the things I spent the majority of my time doing, I envied those people who I perceived were living the life I wanted. My final telltale sign was when I finally listened to myself as I described my career as “accidental” and “random” to yet another new person I was meeting in a social setting. I didn’t want an accidental career; I wanted an intentional life.

Joel, ever the live in the moment human, didn’t feel quite the angst I did, but nonetheless was eager to build a different type of life together. And once I recognized the telling signs that my life required saving (put another way: changing), I came face-to-face with another realization, one that scared me. There was only one thing holding me back: me.

I was confronted with myself, the truth that my life needed to change, and I was getting in my own way. The reality was that we finally went for it only when I realized that I was fully capable of making excuses why not to forever. Why not to save my life was easier than the myriad of reasons why to save my life. And so Joel and I took the critical first step in saving our own lives, and listed all the reasons why to.

  • With all of our hearts we felt pulled to make a change;

  • The voices saying “you can’t do this” weren't as important as the voices saying “find a way” and cheering us on;

  • When we gave ourselves permission to dream, we felt lighter and full of joy (i.e.: even before we made the change, we felt different);

  • Through savings, a bit of work we could take on the road, and downsizing our assets (house, car, stuff), we could do this in a financially responsible way;

  • We would rather regret making this choice than regret not having the courage to.

We knew that finding a way to merge our passions and our talents felt important to us. Through this trip and this life change, we wanted to explore how we could each use our gifts more in our daily lives. How could we create art, tell stories, connect with other humans, and build something we felt proud of.

So here we are, on the road, and at least one of us is ready to stay a road warrior forever. While I’m not quite there yet, I do recognize that both of us are experiencing a daily realization that yes, indeed, we are actually doing this; yes, indeed, we are in the midst of what could be; yes, indeed, it is possible to save your own life!

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