As with most of us, I had little fear of the unknown when I was a youngster. I got up in the morning, threw on my clothes, and if I didn’t have school, jumped on my bike and rode off to see the world as far as I could pedal. Fear of what was out there or what I’d left behind never occurred to me. That came later.
I had a life that was going to last forever, and all the time in the world to see what there was to discover. What a joy! Maybe I’d get lost, maybe not, but I was free to make all the choices. I was at liberty, and I NEVER felt foolish.
What happened? As I became an adult, I outgrew the bike, lost that feeling of joyous abandon, and did the right thing. I think you all can remember a sense of pride at being the adult. It’s what one did because of what one had been taught over and over in school, in church, and in the workplace, until one finally got it implanted firmly in one’s consciousness. It took me longer to adapt than most of my peers, but eventually I was a model citizen: jobs, houses, marriages, kids, step-kids, grand kids, and a giant pile of stuff.
Fast forward to retirement. With luck, I saved some money, ended up happily ever after with the love of my life, and settled into a beautiful house on the central coast of California. We were near two of our daughters and four grandchildren. We got a dog. We waited.
In January of 2010 we went on holiday to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. On the back terrace of a wonderful hacienda where we were housesitting, as the sun was setting, my wife Lynne astonished me by stating that she was tired of waiting around our house in California to get seriously old , and that she wanted to travel full time. Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied that I felt the same but was afraid to tell her so because I thought that she would never agree with me.
Could we just grab our imaginary bikes, take off, and ride until the wheels fell off? Would the adult we had so diligently constructed allow us to revive the child that faced the world with a pocket full of positive energy? Could we afford it financially? There had to be a way. We were stricken with wanderlust and that long lost feeling of facing the future without a net.
We soon discovered that we could afford to travel if we sold the house and lived within the same budget that we adhered to before the sale. It was arithmetic, not rocket science. It felt adult to us and to our financial advisor. That was not the hard part.
In my bike adventure days, I had been unburdened by a lack of ownership. I had stuff, but I didn’t really think about it much. Plus, I’d be back for dinner, cooked by my mother with her stuff. Nobody thought I was foolish to go out riding my bike. I was a kid doing kid things, with plenty of time to become that adult I keep talking about. This was, as pointed out to us by many, different.
Nonetheless, we set our intention and put the house up for sale. It sold in one day,and our fate was sealed. We gave away or sold most of our worldly goods, reminding ourselves over and over that it was just stuff. Our inner voices and biological clocks became the compass that we would carry with us in our world travels. As departure day loomed, we could feel the fearless children inside of us coming to life again, and the exhilaration of being in the wind. Our adult selves were in the passenger seats this time, the kids were in charge.