Friday, April 24, 2015

What Would You Write?...

"Harry - you’re a great wizard, you know." 

"I’m not as good as you," said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.

"Me!" said Hermione. "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things - friendship and bravery and - oh Harry - be careful!" 

                             ~ J.K Rowling

                                Harry Potter and the
                                Sorcerer’s Stone
A few weeks ago, I agreed to meet my friend Gina after work to have a drink and catch up with each other after an absence of about a year.

We agreed to meet Before I Dieat a local dive bar in the Hillcrest area of San Diego called the "Alibi". 

When I got there, there was no parking in the front so I went around the block and parked on a side street.  When I got out of my car, there was a giant blackboard painted on the side of the bar with the heading, "Before I Die..." boldly lettered on the top.

Below the heading, people chalked in relatively mundane promises to themselves and others.

Promises such as... I want to travel... I want to drink all night... I want to marry Victor... I want to be rich and happy...

As I walked into the bar, I couldn’t help but think to myself that these people squandered a great opportunity to open their hearts and dream big... really big!... but instead they chose to take a safe route... even when writing anonymously on the side of a wall...

What I wanted to read was someone searching his soul for a deeper meaning of life... a promise of doing something so hard that she might revolutionize the world (or at least herself)... a commitment to right a great injustice or to develop a talent into a great superpower...

"Why exactly did they set the bar so low as to not really risking anything significant?" I thought to myself.

I recently had the opportunity to Skype with my friend Sam and his wife Carolyn while they sat in their temporary abode in Quito, Ecuador. 

Approximately one year ago, Sam and Carolyn owned a small business, a house and two cars.  Their house had furnishings and their closets and garage was full of things that they believed to be important in their lives.

They have two preteen children who went to school and participated in athletics and other extra-curricular activities.

As a family, their lives were busy... so busy in fact... that they rarely spent much quality time together... but they were living the true American dream... successful, healthy, and safe... but there was something still missing.

After some soul-searching... Sam and Carolyn concluded that they had become slaves to their success and decided to take a giant leap of faith to change their stars.

They decided at that point to abandon their comfortable life and go on a year-long journey to see the world as a family... living together in very close quarters for months at a time without all of the distractions of work or a permanent home...

In a span of 3 months, they sold their business, their home, and gave away all of their possessions to charity (save those that could fit into one suitcase per person)... and left.

In the ten months since they’ve left they have visited over 30 countries on 5 continents.  They have met new friends along the way... and more importantly, the four members of the family have deepened their relationships far more than they ever could have while living their normal lives at home.

Of course, there have been many challenges for Sam and his wife along the way... living out of one suitcase notwithstanding. 

The family has a hard and fast rule... if you buy something new along the way... then you need to dispose of something old... so soon they begin to think in terms of scarcity rather than abundance and what is the purpose and necessity of everything they own.

Their children are being home-schooled (or should I say road-schooled) by both Sam and Carolyn.  Doing this creates some real challenges in that there is no room in the luggage for books or other traditional learning tools, but since they don’t have the distractions of electronic entertainment, sports, maintaining external friendships, the kids have excelled in their studies and now are a full grade ahead of their counterparts they left behind at home.

As I spoke with Sam and Carolyn, I couldn’t help but fantasize just a bit about convincing my wife to leave everything we have behind and setting out to explore the world...

What could we hope to find and what would we learn along the way?
My wife and I love each other deeply... but could we live in such close quarters for months at a time?  In the end, would we end up hating each other... or would our love grow for one another? 

How would we make decisions?... would it be collaborative or would one person take the lead one time and follow the next?

What would it be like to live each day in the moment... not really sure where the next leg of the adventure would take us... could we come to embrace so much uncertainty and upheaval in our lives... can there truly be peace with seemingly so much chaos?

For better or worse, I believe that I am fairly self-actualized... I am aware of many of my own talents and many of my faults...

I don’t believe that I would have any problem living a minimalistic life on the road as I live a pretty simple life now... but what I also accept is that I am a man of structure and habit.  The idea of aimlessly wandering the world frightens me... to a point that I seriously doubt that I could replicate the courage that Sam and his family has displayed (and I don’t even have any young kids to consider!)...

The other idea that prevents me from giving it all up is the idea of having to start all over again from scratch... but would I really be starting all over from square one?  The difference this time around would be that I’ve already done it once... but now I would start with a blank canvas combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience of what I wanted to create.

If we all had the resources of time and money at our disposal, what would we do that expands our horizons?...

Who would we ask to join us on the adventure and why would they trust us so much that they would come?...

What scares us?...

What is it that we want to do before we die?... and would we be brave enough to write it on the side of the building?  

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we believe that there is fear and bravery found in each of us...  

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