Travel, the PCT, and the International Dream Life
|Photo stolen from Lyndsey McKerchar while she wasn't looking|
Angel and I are just back from an International Dream Vacation, skiing the Canadian Rockies with some Kiwi friends, enjoying unseasonably warm weather in Banff, and trying out the related unseasonably bad skiing and smelly hostels in Fernie. It was our first time downhill skiing since we were teenagers. It was fun and nothing's broken, but that's mostly neither here nor there.
Travel is always a nice chance to take a break from normal life rhythms, but for us it has also frequently been a chance to plot major life changes. Travel to Australia landed us living in New Zealand, which preceded our move to Seattle. Traveling the Camino in Spain ultimately led to a decision to hike the PCT and then go learn Spanish. Going places makes us want to go other places.
This Canadian trip (with good Kiwi friends who we never would've met if we hadn't traveled to New Zealand) was a nice reminder that Angel and I would rather travel than do just about anything else. Hanging out with Kiwis always has that effect because they travel as well as any nationality I know and because our two years in NZ were some of the best of our life. And it was also a nice tune-up for our upcoming period of vagabonding.
Beyond just wanting to be on vacation all of the time, traveling this year (and maybe beyond), is about trying to figure out how to prioritize the things that are important to us. Different people want different things in life. Some people want to spend time with their family, or make a lot of money, or have a meaningful career. All of that is important to us to some degree, but we also want to do it in the context of experiencing as much of the world as possible. Our priorities in some random order include: meaningful and beneficial work, outdoor adventures, close relationships, a sense of home, seeing as much as we can, learning as much as we can. We've spent 10 years or so hammering away at debt, investing, buying and remodeling a home, changing careers, and trying to put ourselves in a position of some professional and financial flexibility. What that adds up to at this point is a chance to try to move the balance away from career a little bit and more towards life.
Or a more accurate way to say it might be that we want to shift more towards a model where, when we are working, we are working intentionally - shaping our work life so that it will allow us to do more of the things that we want to do. Part of me always feels like I need to justify our decisions to travel, both to myself and others, as if they were inherently selfish. But in practice I doubt that our contributions to society will be significantly diminished by the fact that we'll be moving from place to place for some period of time in the near future. And we're lucky to be in a position where our jobs themselves are a meaningful part of the lives we'll live. If we pick up nursing work while we're traveling, it should contribute to the experience rather than feeling like a necessary evil.
The two year plan is to make this a sort of intensive Masters program in resilience and creativity: stretching the resources we have as far as they'll go, investigating what nursing can do for us to both enrich our experience and extend it, developing other skills to make money to keep traveling, sorting out how to balance being home with being away.
The long term goal is to develop a life where travel and adventure is a regular, viable possibility: More Caminos. More through hiking. Spending more time with the people and places we love. Floating the Mississippi. Going to new parts of the world. More friends. Ultras, Skiing, Biking, Mountains, Surfing.
In two months, we'll see how this goes.