I just spent the past two days in the belly of a book: ONE YEAR OFF: Leaving It All Behind for A Round-the-World Journey with Our Children. The book is old, comparatively speaking, and tells the story of a family who took one year traveling the world. Mom, Dad, 8-year-old daughter, 7-year-old son, 2-year-old son – before Internet bookings, smart phones, and TripAdvisor. The author didn’t lie, it was hard for them, but I was captivated. I actually started to think, ‘what if?’
Something in my heart has been churning lately. The drudgery and the routine hurts; yet the idea of doing something irrational and irresponsible also scares me. I am staring at a void seeking fulfillment of some sort. I feel the rushing onslaught of a midlife crisis but buckling under the weight that I am a mom who has little people depending on me.
Plus, I have read the self-help books. People don’t get fulfilled by travel or adventure or new homes or new cars or better clothes. They get filled from the inside out by things like Jesus. Or the best “ohm” they’ve ever had one day in a yoga class.
I know Jesus. I “ohm” quite frequently. I live in a great city in a gorgeous house. I challenge myself to do the Beyond the Comfort Zone challenge. I have a job that fits me and good people surrounding me. Really, I have it all. So what’s up with me? How dare I feel this way?
Maybe I just need to buy a sports car.
It isn’t that I feel old. Yet. (Don’t tell my wrinkles that I ignore them or they will just scream louder.) It is that I feel like my life is rushing by me completely out of my control. With hours on bleachers and in lobbies of piano lessons and at desks trying to figure out why our website got hacked or on the phone trying to figure out why my son is having a hard time with his All About Me bag in kindergarten….my hours trickle away into one big blob of near-nothingness. Those hours could have never even happened.
Is it routine that I hate?
Or is it the suburban housewife gig that feels awkward these days?
It’s a tough question to address. The answer could potentially have huge ramifications. (What if I hate it?!)
Ultimately I am not even sure if I am asking the right question or what the question is.
But I seek travel, I crave adventure. I want new experiences. I want to prove I am not boring and in retreat. I will not go gently into suburban housewife life.
But while I want these things not just to fill me up, I oddly ask these experiences to allow for emptiness in my otherwise cluttered life.
When I travel now I want to create a void. I want to be in a space where I don’t have to think about all of the papers and forms, the dog’s bladder infection, the text messages I haven’t answered, the social media posts I haven’t scheduled yet. I seek the emptiness that exists away from all of that.
So yes, I travel to fill. And I travel to learn. I travel to be an ambassador and I travel to teach my children about the world. But at the bottom of it all, I also travel to search for the emptiness where nothing matters but the moment in front of me: the new dish of curry, hanging my head out a cable car, or looking out over a valley that looks virgin. What comes in to fill me from the inside out is creation. Life.
That might be Jesus.
I understand Jesus isn’t telling me to get a sports car. But maybe Jesus is telling me that I need to honor the passion inside me to go see the world, to fill my void with relationship and experience and not wasted cooking-show competitions on television.
Or maybe Jesus really is telling me to stop whining and appreciate what I have. This Jesus guy can be really confusing.
I know this post rambles; this isn’t my advice column type post I have done for you as of late. But I felt compelled to let you know that if you feel humbled and overwhelmed simply by the numbness of the routine, you are not alone. If you shop for an Airstream trailer late at night on Craigslist because you believe that traveling the country and homeschooling your children is life’s answer – ANYTHING to BE DIFFERENT, you are not alone.
I know as a mother I will never fade into a vast nothingness of existence and my hours do count. My children are my legacy (for better or for worse) and they tell my life story.
But that doesn’t mean that many afternoons I don’t daydream of a different life, a life unique, a life more traveled.