Therapy and Nacho Arson
The other day I went to lunch with my company’s CEO. “I think you should see a shrink.” It was obvious what he thought of our idea to drive Nacho around the world. “I’ll even pay for it. Just lie on the couch for an hour, and let’s see what happens.” We receive a wide variety of responses, but this one was unique. It suggested that, as my friend Gabe put it, our desire to live means that we must be crazy.
The response from Sheena’s coworkers fell to the opposite extreme. She told them all at the same time as one big group, which resulted in the entire accounting department breaking into tears. The following day one of her coworkers wrote her a poem about our trip and laminated it. I guess accountants are more emotional than CEOs.
I enjoy observing the responses people have to the news of our trip; a person’s reaction is telling of their experiences and outlook on life. If they’ve never traveled, they tend not to see the point in our decision. The young and well traveled tend to be enthusiastic and encouraging. Those who have done something like this before become nostalgic and evangelistic in their encouragement for us to get underway. Members of my grandfather’s generation have the most predictable and consistent response; their eyes relax and seem to focus on some distant object, they nod their head, and say something to the tune of “Do it now before it’s too late.” My actual grandfather had this same response, but then followed it up with, “But you’ll never make it through the Middle East because they’ll set your car on fire.” Thanks Grandpa.
So far our biggest detractor has been a woman named Donalie from Florida. We’ve never met her, but she made the following assessment;
“…considering all the people who don’t have a car of any age to live in or the gas to go from one town/state to another, I don’t give a hoot. I guess you just don’t get it, Brad…There are much more important things to do than to go traveling for years. The one good thing is that they quit their jobs, hopefully opening up jobs for people who need and want to work. I wish them well but I don’t admire them.”
I haven’t been able to figure out what must have been so bad about her life to give her this kind of outlook. We tend to find the advice of people who have been in our shoes more motivating and relevant. The letter we received from Todd on The Samba was more encouraging.
“I will definitely be following your blog, so keep at it! Reminds me of the trip I took in a different mode of transport. After college I fitted out my 26ft sloop and headed over the horizon to points south from Morro Bay, CA. I was gone for the better part of the year, cruising the coast all the way down to Zihuatanejo and back, solo. Of course I had my mask, fins, and sling, not to mention a quiver of boards. Otherwise, I didn’t have a clue. Literally. See, I had not sailed at all before this, and had acquired my knowledge from books. Oh the horror I put my mother through… Sorry mom, I love you
What I got was an adventure of the grandest sorts; what 23 year old wouldn’t? I loved Baja – my favorite place by far. So many good right hand point breaks, lobster, and amazing sunset/sunrises. Eventually warmer water called, and I ended up posting up at an anchorage in Puerto Vallarta. It was heaven. Good anchorage, good wave, little town… Of course the people are super kind and friendly as well – something you’ve come to find out already. You will have more of the same.
One thing I found out was that exploring and riding waves from a boat is a very romantic idea, but very difficult. A boat can get you into some places where a car cannot, but for the most part, all of the good breaks down the coast are reachable by 4 wheels. And guess what? There is no rocking or creaking when the swell is up. No worry of dragging anchor into the impact zone or out to sea. No wondering if you’re going to find that sandbar that shifts with the rain and tide.
Sorry for the ramble/reliving the past, but I’ve done what you’ve done. Pinched the pennies, scrapped and saved. Gone against the flow of the norm to do something that leaves most people with more questions, even after you’ve answered them all. I told my then girlfriend and now wife (I can’t believe she married me after this story I am about to tell) that I couldn’t take her out to a nice dinner, because that meant another week in Mexico. Mind you, this is one of the last times I would see her before jumping over the border. The family pressure and guilt can be heavy at times, and seems strange and misplaced because in the end, you’re fulfilling and living out your dreams. Just keep telling them you love them! And hey, with Skype, wireless, Facetime, etc, the world is a lot smaller in many regards.
Finally, I met so many older couples who reveled in what I was doing. I specifically remember Peter from Canada who said, “You’ve got it figured out Todd. Take off now while you can. While your body is still young, while your mind and perspective are still fresh. While you’re open to everything.” While I still don’t think I have it figured out (I mean, I bought a Vanagon…) my trip, my experiences – the people and places I visited and met – will be with me for a lifetime. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.”
I prefer to think that our experience will be more in line with Todd’s. I hope that our trip helps us to understand people better by appreciating their culture and sociopolitical situations. I doubt that any shrink could provide this kind of insight, so I think we’ll stick with the original plan.
Just chiming in to say “more power to you guys”. I can’t believe anyone could be so narrow-minded as to make the comments like the person from Florida. Brutal.
I wish my wife and I had done something like this before we had kids. And who knows, with our love for travel and two great daughters who are good traveling partners as well, maybe we’ll pull something like this off down the road somewhere.
Safe travels and keep up the writing! Can’t wait to hear more about your journey.
Comment by Chris H on December 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm
Go! Go! Go! Radical change scares people. Don’t let fear of change stand in your way no matter who or where it comes from!
Comment by Anthony on December 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm
A shrink!? Really? You probably should’ve taken him up on his offer. I’m sure the shrink would have quickly figured out that you’ve got it more together than your boss. My wife and I are soon retiring, 10 years younger than most people consider doing that, just so we can explore, travel and mostly live a life not defined by what we ‘do’ for a living. We get asked a lot of questions like, ‘won’t you be bored?’ or, ‘why?’ or, ‘do you have enough money?’ We explain our dreams and desires to people and they still look at us like they don’t get it or like maybe we are a little insane. Their problem, I suppose. The closer we get, the more excited we become and the more we are convinced that this is the right thing to do in life. I’m sure you guys are feeling the same about your decision too. I have some close friends who quit their jobs at about age 40, bought a sail boat (unlike Todd, they were accomplished sailors) and took off for a couple of years just for the hell of it. Now, some dozen or so years later, they’ve bought property and settled in but they have never once regretted their decision.
Comment by Charlie on December 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm
Awesome, you guys! I am really going to enjoy reading this. (It helps that you write as though you went to college, as I’m sure you did, considering you were, until very recently, employed as an engineer.) Have a fantastic time, take photos (I’m not sure about your skills as an artist, so photographs might be a better documentation medium) and avoid your sweet van being set ablaze.
Comment by Kelly on December 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm
Kelly, we’ll try to keep Nacho from having any thermal events, however it wouldn’t be the first time one of our vehicles burned down. When we lived in Wales someone blew up our Toyota Corolla. Poor little Gershwin perished in a ball of flame in front of our house with a fire extinguisher on the back seat. Damn you, Irony!
Comment by Brad on December 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm
Donalie obviously doesn’t “get it”. Go, and have fun! We’ll be rooting for you! Imagine the stories you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren!
Comment by Brent on December 15, 2011 at 1:44 am
You guys rock! This is exactly the time to do it (before you have kids.) I hope you will not only enjoy it now but that you will do it again in your 50s or 60s when kids are grown. Wishing you lots of luck! Please be safe, there is no adventure worth getting hurt over. Physically or emotionally. I may have not attended your wedding but I am so proud of you both. Like someone mentioned above, the memories of good times will stay with you forever; that is what life is about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – we all will travel with you through your blog!
Comment by Elmira Freeman on December 15, 2011 at 8:25 am
On their deathbed, nobody ever wishes that they’d spent more time at the office. I wish I had half of your conviction.
Comment by John Young on December 15, 2011 at 8:39 am
One of the nice elements of your story is the contrast it evokes. I actually like that people have negative things to say about your adventure. It’s natural, and beautiful, and I am willing to bet it fuels your fire. Nice words.
Comment by Gabe McCarter on December 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm
@John: I like it! Can I get that in a bumper sticker?
@Gabe: There you go again, always saying the right thing…
Thanks for the encouragement.
Comment by Brad on December 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Don’t listen to the naysayers! My wife and I recently moved to Mexico (gasp!) and got all kinds of dire warnings, including one friend who sent an email simply stating “This Mexico?!” with a picture of a mass grave. Nice. So far, we’ve been brutally “attacked” by children laughing and playing in the streets, families & neighbors socializing on their front stoops and vendors riding by selling their wares – and this happens at night! The truth is, most of the violence is in the border towns, gang related, and over 1500 miles away.
For perspective, this is similar to refusing to move to Bismark, SD because of all the gang violence in LA.
It’s horrible stuff, yes – but it does not make the *entire* country bad! This can be applied to almost anywhere in the world (America too!) Is there still risk? Sure – just like anywhere else (so you keep your eyes open and your wits about you – just like anywhere else). But there’s also learning, and adventure, and stories to last a lifetime and experiences that we would have never had if we’d decided to stay home (case in point, yesterday our “office” across from a Caribbean beach – meanwhile it’s sleeting back home). Since the move, we’ve met so many people who have told us “yeah… you did the right thing!” and you’ll find they far outweigh the naysayers.
I think you’ll discover far more good out there than bad – but “good” doesn’t make headlines, does it?
Comment by Tor on December 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm
It would be unAmerican for folks to not have an opinion about things they don’t know about :)
People who don’t perceive that they can do what they want tend to get their feathers ruffled when others around them conspicuously demonstrate that they’re doing what they want to do. Think about it: when a person is unhappy with what they’re doing day to day, they have to rationalize it to themselves to get through the day. It might be, “I hate my work but it’s important work, and I’m demonstrating responsibility by continuing to do the important work, regardless of whether or not I like it.” Then they can dislike their work/life but keep the consolation prize of feeling good about themselves and their daily activities.
When others do what they want instead, that threatens the foundation of their psychological survival mechanism.
It’s not like if you sacrificed having a car to live in or drive around in, all starvation and social ills in the world would be resolved. I’ve found that people acting on their aspirations, whatever they may be, is inspirational to others and uplifts others in an intangible way. Why? Because it’s a demonstration of freedom and goal achievement. It debunks the myth that people self-perpetuate: that they don’t do what they want because they have no choice. This myth helps some people rationalize their dissatisfaction and holds some people back from even trying. Disproving this myth is bound to annoy some people and self-empower other people.
She also seems to infer that you should feel guilty for doing what you want. It’s as though she believes that instead of traveling, you should be helping oppressed people (people who have no cars or mobility). But wouldn’t her goal be to help the oppressed people she refers to be able to do what they want? Should we all wait until things are perfect, everywhere in the whole world, before any of us ever do anything we want with our lives?
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
We do not need to put our own happiness or freedom on hold because others in the world are still struggling to find it. And if we wait for that eventuality to come about before we begin being happy, we’ll never be happy.
But no hard feelings toward her. She sounds like she’s in the world of service to others in some capacity, and folks like social workers, nurses, nonprofit workers, and the like have tough jobs. They try to attain the impossible every day and are to be commended, as they push through burnout.
Maybe she thinks you’re seeking to frame yourself as an admirable hero for “dropping out of the system” and she’s got a knee-jerk reaction to that (Where she says “I wish them well but I don’t admire them”). But I think what’s really going on is that you don’t give a crap, you’re just trying to live a life you want. It’s just that the goals other people have absorbed don’t apply to you: comfy house, secure job, consumerist trappings in middle-class Pleasantville. It takes every kind of people to make the world go round. You’re not asking for her admiration, or anyone’s approval … that’s kinda the point. No matter, continue as you were!
Comment by Gwynne on December 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm
I like you Gwynne. You’re all right :)
Comment by Brad on December 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm
Yay! I was quoted! I think this is a first. I can feel the gravitas of my words emboldening me already. Next stop, to the moon! Nah, just kidding. But in all seriousness, I typed and sent off that little ditty in a flurry emotion, ranging from hesitation and heartfeltness. Fearful of being a preacher, and hopeful that I could contribute some sort of wisdom and motivation for your journey ahead. In the end, you guys have it covered, and I look forward to this amazing and unfolding adventure.
All the best,
Comment by Todd on December 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm
When you look back at your life in old age, you will not regret this decision. Some people live in fear and seek safety, and want others to do the same to validate their decision. I have family members who always remind me of the dangers of the things I do, which are tame relative to what you’re embarking on. Whatever happens, and even if your journey is cut short for some unforeseen reason, it will be an experience you’ll remember forever.
Comment by Michael on December 27, 2011 at 2:29 am
I found your blog via homeonthehighway.com.
I just want to wish you all well on your journey. I enjoy seeing people who share the same thirst for living and adventure as I do (as rare as they are).
I’m stuck here in my office, planning the next great adventure so I am acquiring inspiration by going through blogs like these.
Keep on going!
Comment by Kenneth on June 25, 2012 at 9:02 am
Love your granddad’s comment. And love what you guys are doing. Starting from the beginning so I’ll catch up with your current status soon.
Comment by Rosa P on February 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm
[…] back in the far off distant beginning, I wrote about the day that I quit my job. After I had broken the news that I would be leaving to the CEO of my company, he invited me to […]
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