Posts Tagged ‘why we travel’
What could possess an otherwise perfectly sane family to take off to pedal bicycles 20,000 miles from one end of the earth to the other? I wish I knew…
We were just your ordinary, everyday, American family one day. And the next we were anything but. In May 2008 the four of us were living in a typical American home in Boise, Idaho. The boys attended fourth grade at a local elementary school. I taught Special Ed at a local high school. John was serving as our stay-at-home dad, fixing up the house and doing other assorted chores. In short – life was typical and predictable.
But a month later, the four of us were living a life very few can imagine. We arose every morning in our tent, packed our sleeping bags, strapped all our earthly belongings onto our bicycles, and pedaled away to face the adventures of the day – of which there were plenty!
All it took was a nun.
The flight from New York City to Paris and on to Benin was about as uneventful as flights go; maybe half an hour of turbulence and two complimentary glasses of cognac rocked the entire sixteen hours of travel. Until I landed in Benin, the only thing eventful that had happened to me was that, despite my best efforts, I thoroughly and completely lost an armrest war to my left-hand neighbor, who seemed to consider that his window-seat ticket also bought him a controlling share in the adjacent aisle seat.
Given that he was approximately double my size (you will see…this promises to be a recurring theme), I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did—which, to be fair, was only about 27 minutes. I had little choice but to become intimately familiar with the contralateral armrest, and each passing, just-wide-enough-to-make-you-rue-elbows, duty-free-stocked beverage cart propelled by plastic smiles.
I was working full-time in Phoenix and doing evening classes for my MBA (paid for by the same consulting company that I’d later leave just weeks after finishing my degree). I was happy, getting plenty of love and leisure in that lifestyle (despite the terribly full, yet routine schedule).
Corporate brass wanted to promote me to a senior level that would’ve probably doubled my salary and expanded my ability to enact change within the organization. By most standards these dimensions of personal and professional success would’ve been enough to keep the lips of most any 25-year-old grinning from ear to ear, behind a glass of rum at least half his age.
It is in our genes, in our genetic code, to be explorers, adventurers and travellers. As life has evolved from the primordial ooze to the wide diversity that exists on our little blue-green rock today, at every step the beings that eventual evolved into us where the ones that got out there, took the chance and made a move. We are chance-takers by genetic necessity. If we weren’t, we would have died out, or evolved into something very different, like rhesus monkeys, sheep or catfish. Overall in evolution, survival of the fittest might rule, but when it comes to human evolution, it is survival of the most likely to pack a change of underwear, a toothbrush and take off down the road.