Many books have been written about travel, about the adventures that happened on the way and how life has (or hasn't) changed upon coming home. But what about the people we leave behind? Our friends and family with their sorrows, fears or even jealousy?
This series is dedicated to them. It tries to look beyond the traveler & hopefully enable us to understand those at home more, while motivating us to keep exploring. Guestposts are always welcome!
This guest post by Brittany was first published on her blog www.windtraveler.net. Brittany and Scott live and travel with their little girl Isla ak sea monkey on their boat which is not always perceived very well by outsiders. This post will resonate with many a traveler, no matter what you choose as your mode of transport! Here is Brittany:
“You two are just hiding out down there in the Caribbean,” the voice said to us, “You are not living in the real world.” This individual continued on about how eventually we’d learn that it’s not about “us” anymore, and we’ll want to return to a normal life on land so that our kids get “socialized normally” because raising a growing baby on a boat is no way to raise a child. This person went on to tell us we were selfish, irresponsible and that raising kids on a boat would be robbing our children of important skills needed to maintain the status quo thrive in society.
Unfortunately, this sort of reaction is very common to anyone who lives this – or any unconventional – lifestyle. I cannot even tell you how many cruisers we have spoken to and how many emails I have received from wannabe cruisers lamenting about the lack of support they feel from family, friends and loved ones. We’re a couple of the lucky ones, the people who matter the most to us are incredibly supportive of our choices, and for that we are grateful. More often than not cruisers are deemed “crazy” by friends and loved ones, sometimes in a playful way – sometimes in a hurtful way. When young adults take a couple years off of the corporate treadmill to travel and explore, they are foolish. When parents take their children on sabbatical to see the world, they are irresponsible. If retirees take to their boats to sail off into the sunset after decades of hard work, their grown children call them cruel. Almost always we are considered “selfish.” The list goes on. The fact of the matter is this: if you want to live a life that doesn’t fit the “lather, rinse, repeat” cycle our society so successfully generates – you will be met with opposition. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. Apparently, there are folks out there who believe they have the answers for everyone and when people veer from a certain path, they feel that it’s in their wheelhouse to tell them so. As much as we humans say we value “originality” – we also really, really love for everyone to fit into nice, predictable, little boxes. Pretty ironic, actually.
What sucks even worse than being judged is the fact that the same people who sit on their high horses pointing fingers, often cannot see past their own noses. While some are well-intentioned and simply concerned, most are often incredibly closed-minded and – as frustrating as it is – there is not a crow bar in the Universe to pry it open. Save your breath. No amount of talk or rationale will convince these folks otherwise. Instead you should just appreciate the care from the loved ones who mean well, and feel badly for the people who have completely forgotten (or worse, never knew) what it means to have a dream.
Let’s take a look at the people who have changed our world: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc… I can’t be sure, but I’ll bet a vital organ that none of these people lived life according to the status quo. I’ll bet that every single one of these people was, at some point or another, considered “different” and probably ostracized for it. I can also bet that stay at home dads, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and any other soul who has dared to venture outside parameters of society gets the same sort of message: “You are different. You are wrong.” What is with this logic? Why do people get their knickers in such a bundle over people who do things another way? If people are making their lives work, if they are happy, and no one is getting maimed in the process – why can’t we just live and let live?
I know that being judgmental is part of the human experience and, for one sociological reason or another, we have evolved as a species that likes to be a part of a group and reject those that aren’t. I get it. I’ve done it. We all have. We’re judging people all the time; other parents, their children, our peers, our coworkers, celebrities, etc. typically using ourselves as a measuring stick. Most of us, however, keep these judgements to ourselves and let the differences keep things interesting. We focus on our own lives and living them as best we know how. But there are others of us who feel the need to tell people what they are doing is “wrong” and this is where I get my knickers in a twist.
Wouldn’t it be so much more effective if we all examined our own lives, instead of those around us? What is so bothersome about someone else’s path? What satisfaction is gained from trying to control, manipulate, or steal joy from another person? And furthermore, what does this sort of mentality say about you? Wouldn’t it be so much more effective if we all drew inspiration from these diversions or at the very least used them as a way to learn more about our world, about each other? I think so.
Scott and I are very blessed and very lucky. I have always said this and I’ll continue to say it forever: I am thankful every. single. day. We live a very full and (mostly) happy life. We are surrounded by amazing friends and are part of a very loving and supportive family. Sure, we’ve chosen a path that looks a little different than most of the people we know, and that is okay. If we want to raise our kids on an organic farm in a hippie commune somewhere in Northern California, big whoop. If we decide that we want to spend the rest of our lives raising fainting mountain goats, than so be it. And if we choose to spend some of our kids lives “hiding out” on a boat in the Caribbean (or any other place on this beautiful planet), then that is exactly what we are going to do. But it’s important to note that what one person might consider “hiding,” another might consider “seeking.” One mind is closed, the other is open. And this is the greatest difference of all. Our current goal? To raise free-thinking, loving and open minds. If we decide to go about doing this in a way that is different than you, well, I guess the proof will be in the pudding, won’t it?
This world we are living in right now IS the real world. It might not be yours, but it’s ours.