(This will be a 2 part post, since I didn’t have time to illustrate today.)
When people hear what kind of life Nathan and I live, we typically get one of two responses: utter confusion (“Wait, so…what do you do? Where are you from?…”) or, more commonly, good-natured envy (“OMG, I want to travel so badly! You are sooooo lucky!”). People everywhere, it seems, are dying to get away from their hum-drum cubicle life and hop a plane to somewhere, anywhere. Often, such enthusiastic outbursts are quickly followed by a sigh of resignation. “If only I were younger,” they say. “If only I didn’t have small children/work at a bank/have three years of school left/fill in the blank”. If only, If only…
Hidden within these “If only” statements is an assumption, namely that Nathan and I have skills or life circumstances more aptly suited for a life of travel and exciting experiences. To some extent that may be true. We only have one child, we’re young and in pretty good health, we don’t have a mortgage or college tuition to pay. That being said, I think that our life is largely just a reflection of our priorities. A very small percentage of people can “have it all” – satisfying work, a strong family, stability, luxury, and an exciting life of travel. The key is identifying which of these you value most…and then going after it!
Our life is exciting. I don’t deny that. We’ve both been to 8 or 9 different countries, we’ve lived in 2 different countries and 5 different states in 4 years. We’ve hitchhiked and prayed our way across the country. We do freelance art for a living, and get to work from home. It’s been an adventure. But there have been sacrifices. We’ve paid for our cultural experiences in emotional currency: I’ve wept over separation from family and a niece that only knew us through skype, suffered loneliness and feelings of isolation, faced judgmental attitudes, been unable to pay for both rent and food, craved the security blanket of a regular paycheck, and seen the ugliness of my deeply-rooted desire for comfort. It’s not a perfect life, but it is beautiful.
Our compensation is not measured in dollars so much as in experiences and memories. I’ve done so much living in the past 3 1/2 years. I wouldn’t trade it for a thousand Target gift cards.