Celebrating our 6-year anniversary on the road in Nicaragua — with a break, a bench, a sunset.
Anniversaries, they help mark time. They remind us to remind ourselves to admire our arc, our path through the world in time. No, not to admire it in some self-satisfied way, but to admire that there’s a process of growing, changing, evolving, and continually understanding that our lives are portions of an unbroken circle connecting all the dots of who we’ve become. Anniversaries invite us to step back to view the path we’ve helped to unfold — a path that takes us from where we’ve been to where we are, all peppered with hints and imaginations of where we would hope to go.
This particular anniversary of six years passed almost without notice. “How could that happen?!” you ask?
Our response? Life. You find yourself putting together a workshop on a Nicaraguan beach, and believe it or not, you can get a little lost. Then you look up from your cup of coffee one morning and think, wait a minute, didn’t we leave a pork butt behind in Prague six years ago yesterday?
The salad days of our journey: Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand in December, 2006
When we set off, we’d imagined 12-18 months. You could say we miscalculated, just a spec. We’ve made decisions, had discussions — some might even call them arguments (yes, we are human) — and our approach and the “why” is continually reaffirmed from within and from without.
What does that mean?
I suppose the inner compass, with all its confusions and magnetic pulls in occasionally unproductive directions, always brings us back to making our way through the world in a manner that brings meaning, meaning that is continually and surprisingly reflected back to us by others.
A Little Perspective in Three Stories
In Nicaragua, a colleague and newfound friend commented, “When we die, when we leave this Earth, we can’t take our stuff with us, we can only take our experiences, our memories.” You might say there’s no checked bags or carry-ons when we leave this life. Thank you for your spirit, Selena.
On our flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, around hour 14 of a monster travel day, we had the good fortune to sit next to a retired career American serviceman on his way back to Afghanistan as a private contractor. He would be away from his wife and children. This was profoundly difficult, I can only imagine. It’s Christmas after all.
In any event, he’d seen so much, yet still so much struck him wide-eyed. We told him of what we’d seen and felt during so many of our trips. But when we mentioned visiting Iran last year, his eyes really opened and his jaw dropped ever so slightly. He almost hesitated to ask, “How was it? What happened?”
We shared a few stories, from the continual invitations from ordinary Iranians we met on the streets to the incredible kindness we experienced on the train from Iran to Istanbul. I even pulled out my iPhone and showed a few photos of the architectural jewels of Shiraz and Esfahan.
“The world is sometimes not as we’re told it is,” he said, continually tilting his head in wonder, shaking his head in disbelief. Thank you, Will – for your service and for reaffirming for us so much about what can be right in this world.
Finally, on just about every turn of this journey, thanks to the unnamed many who shed continual light on our good fortune with sentiments like this: “Six years, you must have been everywhere.”
Well, no. We haven’t been everywhere. And even if we had, there’s always something left on the table, notwithstanding all the changes undergone by places we’ve visited since we’ve visited them.
We thank every one of the people who echo this sentiment and remind us that there’s always more to explore and learn. They reaffirm that it’s always a good idea to unpack, if only to take a moment to take stock of what you have and what you’ve done, what remains and why you’re doing it all.
Perhaps most importantly, they imply that we should never take anything for granted.
Looking to Year Seven
Six years ago, words like “digital nomad” and “professional blogger” weren’t really in our imaginations, much less our lexicons. So our “journey” has become more than one of just travel; it has become our life, our lens, our business. Our imaginations are stretched by what is and what could be. Honestly, it can feel intimidating at times.
So what do you do when a journey and its various pieces come together as one? Recently, we took a private look back to the very beginning and reflected on why we got started on this journey in the first place to guide us — to the themes of exploration, continual learning, stories, meaning and creativity.
The world and all the things we learn, they all take time. They are delivered to us at their own pace. And if we rush too much, we run the risk of missing the little things. Likewise, if we just wait for things to happen, they may never do so.
Independent of the results, life as a process is pretty fascinating.
And just in case you are wondering: I am addicted to sentence fragments because sometimes you have to unpack and take apart what you have in order to understand what you’ve built.
It’s with this spirit that we begin our seventh year of this journey. A year we hope is one of continued surprises, shared lessons and good stories.
Thank you for being part of it.