admitting you don’t know what you want
July 27, 2010, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Of course it’s cliche. Call it quarterlife or anything else. This is hardly an unbroken trail, in fact it’s more of a paved highway. Since admitting what is about to happen, other souls in similar boats have come out of the woodwork. Some are more successful than others, but not one has said “don’t do it.”

(It’s all a little Choose Your Own Adventure. Except without the option to page back and undo things knowing that you will end up in a dark pit with the lights closing out or whatever other morbid direction your impulsive decision to raft down the river took you.)

One thing I’m dealing with is that most of what’s out there focuses on round-the-world (hashtag RTW all over) travel for people my age, usually with some default ambition to start travel writing or profiting from some kind of location-independent career. I’m not really doing either of these things, and this isn’t a ‘gap year.’

Both RTW’s and gap years imply taking a break and returning. For me, in the end, this may be the result but it was never the intent. This is not a break from my Real Life, it is real life. Truthfully, my version of an RTW happened almost three years ago. I covered four continents worth of places, went through the discovery phase of backpacking/youth travel (something well preserved in the Map For Saturday blog/movie), and came home. I’ve probably already had more than I deserved. It’s no coincidence that two of the continents not yet explored are a hypothetical landing spot, but this is not a pin-map world canvassing tour.

For me, what I’m looking for isn’t a destination or set of destinations, per se, it’s about personal development and finding home. There are skills and qualities I don’t have that I want to have which will appear near impossible to develop on this trajectory. The reason I know this is because (1) I was closer to certain things before heading on this path – which I do not regret because it has given me intangibles I would not otherwise have – and I’ve noticed the erosion, (2) what I do now absorbs a significant amount of time and energy, at least to make it worthwhile.

The finding home thing is affirmed by Away We Go, but even more so by people I have met along the way raising their children in supportive communities. It is not decided whether I will end up with kids or not but I have a list of things I would like to offer them. First, a second citizenship and passport. Second, a second language. Third, a chance to be in nature at a young age and the independence that develops. Fourth, membership in a small supportive community which shares my values and can give them a real sense of home and place in the world. As in, I want them to grow up around calm, well-rounded adults who don’t especially value material wealth. It would be folly to imply I have things figured out, but even if the kid never needs any of the above it would be nice for them to have it. Some of the above, while there is still time, I want for myself. I want to live the rest of my life in a community that adds value to it, where people have priorities I understand. I made one choice to the same effect about five years ago and have learned a lot about how important community is. It is now time to make another.

[I hesitate to list what exact personal development I am after, but it skews towards a mushy spiritual quest side of things and I think it is better left undocumented.]


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