Feb
23
2011

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Homeward Bound: Part Three

by Tyler

As we reflect on recent weeks, we've come to realize that (except during our time with Pete and Natasha), our overwhelming sensation has been one of fatigue. We've found it telling to recall that, quite often, we've been more invigorated by the discussion of our future plans than we have been by the present moment. When we do focus on the now, on the incredible gift that is this trip, instead of excitement and wonder, we're left feeling sort of stretched, as Bilbo would say, like butter scraped over too much bread.

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Because almost everything —all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure —these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs

It is both unsettling and liberating, coming to the realization that this mammoth, all-consuming project which we've been working on for so long is no longer what we want to be doing. The last two years have unquestionably been the most fulfilling of our lives, but we're ready and eager to pursue new goals, to reconnect with family, to find a place to call home, and most of all, to learn and grow in ways that aren't travel-related.


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11 comments

I don't know if you plan to have kids, but I can't help thinking this journey was excellent prep for that. Jim told me that doing Camino de Santiago in some small way prepared him for the marathon that is caring for an infant and toddler. It's interesting that you're experiencing overwhelming fatigue. When I think back to Asher's infancy it is through a haze of udder exhaustion.
I'm looking forward to seeing both of you again in person soon!
Posted by Katrina on April 26th, 2011 at 9:35 PM
I think a lot of people go through this after a long trip and once you realise it's ok to feel that way, it's like a big weight off your shoulders.
you've been travelling for a really long time so it's no surprise that you're ready for a new adventure! being able to stay in one place and see familiar faces every day will be luxury and you'll appreciate it even more than normal once you're home. i felt like that when i got home and i think it changed my perspective on things for the better.
Posted by sarah j on April 27th, 2011 at 4:06 AM
Thanks for sharing this today! With a very anxious week behind us, it is inspiring to think what we have in front of us if we just keep moving!
Posted by Breeanne on April 27th, 2011 at 4:34 PM
What an amazing realization. Thanks for sharing, it must have been such a hard conclusion to make and I am sure you struggled with it for a very long time. But as you said, it's just not you anymore, and I agree if you aren't enjoying move on! Thank-you for your inspiration! It's been an integral part of our planning and I appreciate your honesty and transparency.
Posted by Karen Stefanyk on April 28th, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Katrina--

We go through phases... some days we're certain that we want to have kids, and other days the idea seems downright crazy. For now, we're going to focus on building a homestead where we could actually see ourselves starting a family!

This trip has definitely taught us how to stay composed under stressful situations. We often joke about how we think life is going to be a cake-walk when we get home.

We're looking forward to seeing you too! Just a few weeks to go :)
Posted by Tyler on April 28th, 2011 at 2:09 PM
Sarah J - Thank you! I think you're right. I was just reading today in a book called The Happiness Hypothesis about the same sort of thing, which really rang true for me. The author says:

"Set for yourself any goal you want. Most of the pleasure will be had along the way, with every step that takes you closer. The final moment of success is often no more thrilling than the relief of taking off a heavy backpack at the end of a long hike." That feels about right to me!

Anyway, it's nice to know that your trip changed your perspective for the better in terms of how you relate to being home. Hopefully the same will hold true for me!
Posted by Tara on April 29th, 2011 at 5:50 AM
Breeanne - Reading the stories of your first week of travel has really helped me remember just how hard this trip could be, especially at the beginning. I felt that very few of my strengths really applied in this new lifestyle, so I had to start from the ground up. (I had hardly been camping EVER in my life, and I couldn't do simple things like drink from a waterbottle and cycle at the same time.) There was a lot to learn, and it was definitely intense and stressful sometimes, especially at the beginning. But I promise you, you will get the hang of it eventually if you keep at it!

I'm not sure what about this post you found helpful, but I'm glad you find comfort in it!
Posted by Tara on April 29th, 2011 at 6:09 AM
Karen - Aw thank you! Yeah, we did struggle with it for a long time. Looking back and reading/writing the journals, it's easy for us to see how we've been fazing our way out of this trip, eager to do other things. But in the moment, before analyzing all the crazy emotions raging, it's really hard to see the forest for the trees.

All the best to you for your upcoming adventure-- we look forward to reading about it!
Posted by Tara on April 29th, 2011 at 6:13 AM
Katrina, were you referring to breast feeding? :-)

"When I think back to Asher's infancy it is through a haze of udder exhaustion."

GET IT?! ;-) Anyway, I can't wait to see you!
Posted by Tara on April 29th, 2011 at 6:17 AM
I've been following your journal since the beginning, and catching up with your adventures has become a daily ritual, as important as my morning coffee. I've traveled vicariously with you and shared your fun times, your hard times and everything in between. You truly have lived enough adventure for a dozen lifetimes.
But it's also become apparent through your writings over the last few weeks that you're no longer enjoying yourselves. I suspect most of your readers have noticed the enthusiasm waning as you look for reasons not to move on, not to ride, not to keep doing what you’re doing.
The good news is, what you’re experiencing isn’t uncommon. I was about your age when I did my own round-the-world adventure in the early nineties and like you, I found that after about 14-15 months, the novelty wore off. I could no longer get “up” for another city, another fabulous view, another gorgeous sunrise. And I felt guilty about it, knowing that many other people would give anything to do what I was doing, and dammit I need to go look at that cathedral.
So hang in there, do what you need to do to make life as pleasurable as possible. Relax when you want to relax, stay put when you want to stay put, and do what you can to avoid turning your adventure into a chore. But keep taking photos, taking notes, and talking to the people you meet. That way, years from now when the travel-fatigue has long been consigned to the dustbin of time, you’ll be able to pull out these memories and enjoy them all over again.
And thank you both, for letting me travel with you.
Posted by Andrew Smith on April 29th, 2011 at 3:37 PM
Andrew,

We can't tell you how heartening it is to hear that our writing has been an important part of your daily routine. In fact, thanks to uplifting comments like yours, we've started contacting the writers of sites we follow, letting them know how much we appreciate their efforts too. Before keeping this journal of ours, the thought never really occurred to us!

We just spent the afternoon doing some final packing; it is hard to believe, but we fly home tomorrow! We're both very excited to strike out on new adventures, and we will most definitely continue our documentation efforts. In fact, it is likely safe to say that we'll be keeping this journal in some fashion for the rest of our lives.

Again, thank you for taking the time to say hello--it means a great deal to know that our energies have provided something of value to others.

T & T


Posted by Going Slowly on May 2nd, 2011 at 9:43 AM
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