Saturday, March 15, 2008

I hope this is us in 30 years....

Going on our around the world trip has changed our lives in both huge and subtle ways. But one of the most pervasive things it has done is to open up our minds to the possible. Growing up and through my first jobs and grad school, I couldn't imagine myself just walking away from job, career, and societal "responsibilities" to do something entirely for us and to carve out so much time just to live life. I would envy and admire other people who did it, but the idea of me -- 22 going on 40 ME -- doing it was inconceivable.

After having actually made the break and having gone on our trip however I find that there are very few things that are 'inconceivable'. You may have seen the story below on CNN a few days ago. Reading it a few years ago I would have been impressed and admiring, but the experience itself would have seemed as foreign and out of reach as a vaction on Mars. Now I read this and say, "why not?". We've awakened a wander-lust that we will continue to listen to (check this space soon for details of our next trip in April) and I hope that when our kids are settled we would still have the good health and energy to do something like the Patterson's did. Why shouldn't that be us?

Pat and Cat on the coast of Zanzibar

In 2002, at the ages of 62 and 48, Pat and Catherine Patterson decided to leave it all behind. They sold their real estate business and their cars, gave their furniture to their children, and put their home up for rent. Strapping their remaining possessions to two bicycles, the couple set off to bike around the world.

Fifty-seven countries, four continents and almost four years later, the Pattersons look back on their journey as something no less than life-changing. Between 2002 and 2006, the Pattersons biked from California east across the United States to Greenland, through Europe and Russia, down Africa, then from southern Chile all the way back up to California.

They biked about 50 miles every day, which Pat says, "Isn't a lot if that's all you do." They stayed in hotels most of the time, for the sake of safety and comfort, but they biked with camping supplies in case the need arose. They planned their routes using only maps and Lonely Planet travel guides. They assessed the safety of their surroundings by talking with locals. "Gather a consensus of opinion; ask three times. Ask, ask, ask -- we did," Pat says.

The trip wasn't seamless. They were robbed of their computers once, and another time they were held up at gunpoint. In Finland, it was so cold they eventually had to give up biking and fly down to warmer weather in Portugal. "I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would do something like that in my life," Cat confesses. "I think you just have to be open-minded and willing to take chances and risks and not be afraid. ... You just have to open your mind to other cultures and countries and, you know, like Pat says, 98 percent of the people in this world are good people. On a day to-day basis you're meeting the average person in the world and they're just like you." Excerpted from Click here for full story and more pictures and a map.

I think what Cat said is the key to why we are so much happier now than before: "You just have to be open-minded and willing to take chances and risks and not be afraid..."

Easier said than done, but once done, you'll find it's so much easier than how you used to live.

Trying our hand at watering elephants in Laos


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think "easier said than done" is quite the understatement. Not everyone is in a position to undertake a four year journey around the world.
The world we be a better place if more people had that ability, but that's a discussion for another time.