Traveling like we are is an interesting experience, and the open road offers many opportunities for synchronicity and adventure. I frequently reflect on what we’re doing and how far we’ve come, and there are times when I just can’t believe we’re really here, traveling the highways of America, untethered from our previous lifestyle. Sometimes I ask myself why we did it, where we’re going, and what it’s all for, and at other times I simply accept it for what it is. Still, it's not for the faint of heart.
The last time I chose to hit the road for an undetermined period was when I was 21 years old. I bought a one-way ticket to London, and spent 11 months hitchhiking and traveling through Europe, Morocco and Israel. Interestingly, many of the challenges and joys that I experienced in those days are quite similar to my current experience, and while the traveler’s blood still courses through my veins, being middle-aged certainly places more demands on a body in motion. Whereas my 21-year-old self would readily sleep on a cold tile floor in an unheated apartment in Venice during Carnevale, my 45-year-old self wouldn’t dream of such a thing. There’s only so much discomfort I’m willing to tolerate at this stage of my life, and perhaps simply being so untethered in the world is discomfort enough at times, not to mention wearing dirty clothes and tripping over Mary's hula hoops in the middle of the night.
In the days when I was a just another backpacker trolling the youth hostels of Europe, we would stand in line at telephone centers, waiting to place expensive overseas calls to our parents (usually to ask for money to be wired to the nearest American Express office). In those days, there were no ATMs, no cell phones and no internet (imagine that, kids!), and we wrote countless postcards in the tiniest script possible in order to fit in as much information as we could. I even remember choosing to not travel with a Walkman since cassette tapes simply took up too much room! Oh, the sacrifices! In comparison, Mary and I travel with an iPod containing some 7,000 songs.
Now, cozy in our 29-foot mobile home, I recognize the irony of lamenting our slow internet connection, and pining for decent cell service as we ply the back roads of rural Tennessee. Meanwhile, I recognize the immense privilege of traveling as we are, the freedom which we take for granted. There are no land mines, few dangers, open borders, and a world spread before us on a veritable platter. We have chosen to embrace this lifestyle for the time being, and the privilege of doing so is not lost on me.
So, even though the cell service is slow, laundry facilities untainted by stinky chemicals are hard to come by, and internet access can be pokey, we sure have a lot to be grateful for. The vicissitudes of travel notwithstanding, this grand adventure is something we've been asking for, something we've deeply craved. The reality of our journey brings us into contact with so many incredible people who choose to live in various forms of intentional community, inspiring us to continue our search for a place that feels like home. The kindness, the generosity, the openness---this is what makes it all worthwhile, and our journey from community to community allows us to interface with some of the most inspiring people around.
There's no way that we can predict how this journey will end. We have no idea what's around the corner. (We don't even know where we're going tomorrow!) But we know that we can rely on the fact that the kindness and generosity of strangers will continue to bless us as we move from place to place, and the certainty of that notion makes so many other uncertainties pale in comparison. So, as we become more and more comfortable with uncertainty, the blessings of serendipity and synchronicity will inspire us to continue along the road. Thanks for being here with us.