Our sons, Chris, Andrew and Brad in their Balmerino, Scotland school uniforms.
When is the right time to take an adventure?
There are many answers:
When the kids get out of school.
When we can afford it.
When we learn __________ (insert a foreign language).
When we retire.
When we pay off the house.
When the economy is better.
In other words, when it is easier and less risky. There is such a thing as the wrong time, of course. But how often do we keep adventure in the future when we could take the leap at the only time we are guaranteed: today?
The perfect time doesn't exist.
It will be risky. It will be difficult. Mistakes will happen. That is because adventure takes us outside our comfort zone.
When our three sons were in their early elementary school years, Sue was working full time and I was teaching and working a second job on weekends. We were beginning to save some money for the kids' college education and even saving for our retirement. The linear American dream was alive and well!
But then I had a crazy idea: Apply for a teaching exchange. I mentioned it to our friend Kathy and she soon brought me an ad she clipped from a magazine about Fulbright teacher exchanges.
We can't afford it! What about Sue's job? What about the boys' education? What if we get assigned to a country not on our most-desired list? There were many reasons not to apply.
It did not make sense, but we did it anyway.
Our sons at a standing stone in the Orkney Islands off northern Scotland.
I was very fortunate to get the exchange and our destination could not have been better: Scotland. My mother would have credited the luck of my Irish heritage.
Our year brought many challenges, some unpredictable and quite difficult. We took out a second mortgage on the house to finance the trip. Our college and retirement savings plans were interrupted.
There were times we wanted to come home, especially during the short, damp days in winter. As an American teacher in Scotland, I stumbled often. (Our Scottish friends and my former students there are having a good chuckle if they are reading this.)
But, it was the best year of our lives as a family. We made friends we will treasure forever. The old Volvo we bought took us on 30,000 miles of adventures around the U.K. and France. The boys returned with Scottish accents and a love for soccer.
So many highlights. Our sons have all traveled abroad on their own as adults. In fact, the experience influenced our kids so much that we now turn to them for travel advice!
Adventures come in many forms. At BootsnAll, I read about individuals and families doing amazing things with far more risk than we experienced. People quit jobs, sell their house and travel around the world. Some do this with children and without much money. Some find short-term jobs to pay the bills.
We all have limits to how far outside our comfort zone we will go. But, shouldn't life be an adventure? Shouldn't we live it today?