Milepost 1-1-16 In a vacation rental at Rockford, MI
I am spoiled for the ordinary.
As a summer camper and beachcomber, my dad was the one who did it to me and my siblings. I remember the day he took the whole family to Sears to buy our first cabin tent that would sleep all 7 of us. I have precious memories of mountains we climbed and trails we hiked while hauling that heavy tent on the luggage rack of the family stationwagon.
And I have done it to my kids likewise, dragging them around the country to national parks and seashores in an old van, and later, offshore to foreign countries for months at a time.
And as a mentor, I have done it to a whole lot of other people’s kids as well.
A youth volunteer at the local church for 35 years, I took kids camping, hiking, canoeing, and spelunking. My wife and I even took them on cross-cultural trips to underdeveloped countries to see how the rest of the world lives.
One of my mentees once complained to me, “Bob, you have ruined my life; I am no longer satisfied with normal American life.”
Okay, so he said it with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, but there is real truth to the matter. The American dream sits at the top of a ladder to success whose rungs are installed in a standard sequence that goes like this: Do well in school so you can get a good education so you can get a good job so you can marry the right person and provide for the perfect family and live in a nice house (with a mortgage) in a good neighborhood and have two cars and a boat in the garage so you can eventually retire and travel or play golf all day.
Feeding your inner travel beast too early can change the order and mess things up. I used to tell my mentees that “What you feed is what will grow.”
Well, if the thing that you feed is a wanderlust, you may become dissatisfied with the normal sequence of American life and want to get out early. You would have been better off to never leave home in the first place. You wouldn’t know what you were missing and would be content to stay put. You should never have opened the cover of that first National Geographic magazine.
So, I am all about blowing up the status quo. And ruining people for the ordinary. And I will never apologize, because the end result of an inconveniently interrupted American lifestyle is actually a much richer existence.
Nobody arrives at their deathbed saying, “I wish I had traveled less and seen less of the world.” or “I wish I had not met those foreigners and broadened my world view.”
So if I can feed your wanderlust I will do it. I would love to blow up your common life by helping you get out the door and on the road.
Because I know you will someday thank me for it like I thank my dad for blowing up his modest household budget one summer by purchasing that expensive canvas tent at Sears Roebuck & Company.
But you need to have your eyes wide open. What you feed is what will grow. Feeding your inner gypsy is dangerous. It could devastate the comfortable lifestyle you now enjoy. You could end up selling your house and hitting the road – like me.
And discovering an alternate universe, as it were, in the next state and around the world.
Yes, travel has demolished my routine.
And it can do the same for you.
2 thoughts on “How Travel Ruined My Life”
My first camping trip at 12 years old is still one of the highlights of my life. Your family was a part of that youth group experience. I’ve never been back to Petoskey but I still have my Petoskey stone. I didn’t camp again until I was on bivouac in the Army. I have since satisfied my inexpensive wanderlust with various tents, popups and travel trailers. I loved seeing America and getting back to the basics. Life’s hussel and bussel would disappear and serenity and peace were abundant. This blog brought back many memories and I am a better person for being influenced by you and your family .
Tim, thank you for this wonderful report. I am glad we are a part of each other’s journey. Travel on!