When Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to go uncover the new world, I can only imagine the thoughts that ran through the two explorers minds… Were they sad about leaving home, excited about the new adventure, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed?
I wonder, out of all the emotion and anticipation, what did they tell their friends and family? Did their families understand? Did their wives stick around? What happened when they returned 2 years later?
As I prepare for my 3rd departure from home to South America, I find myself thinking a lot about relationships and how the dynamics change when I leave (and return). This is a topic very familiar to fellow travelers, expats and maybe even those famous adventurers, Lewis and Clark.
I think about friends and the family. I think about what home is and what sacrifices are. I think about opportunities, selfishness and glory.
I think about a life of travel and exploration as it effects the unique relationships in my life and why I do it, especially considering the government isn’t funding my travels and trade routes to South America are, for the most part, discovered.
The main objective of your immediate family is to keep you safe; mentally, physically, socially and financially. Through love and support my family has done an incredible job. This is why you can understand their concern as I continuously pull the bounds of my comfort zone and push all aspects of safety.
There is no doubt my Grandma would be much happier if I told her I got a nice job in Buffalo rather than that I’m moving into Pablo Escobar’s old neighborhood.
From the first trip to Buenos Aires, the family was concerned but supported me. They understood my need for change and thought I just needed to get it out of my system. What I didn’t expect however was that subsequent expeditions would become more difficult to justify to them.
I can explain my passion to travel and explore philosophically, emotionally and even strategically, but not practically. It just isn’t practical in a traditional sense. Most people my age are in the process of putting their lives together while I’m on a quest to shake mine up.
We all have a natural responsibility of being present. It’s what binds us and makes us a part of something. It’s for that same reason why I must travel now. I have to push the limits while I can. To begin writing my own story so I can be present without reservation or regret in the future.
When I first started helping to build the textbook business, I took friends for granted. I thought money and success was everything and that friends would love me when I had it. Needless to say, I was lost.
True friends love to see you do cool stuff, but would rather do cool stuff with you. They push you to do great things and keep you grounded when you get ahead of yourself. They’re the ultimate co-pilots, wingmen and reality checkers.
I don’t want to be up-to-date on important events only via Facebook. I never want to be the friend who “looses touch” just because I’m away and I never want friends to think I’m unavailable for anything.
As time moves forward and we all grow up, there’s no doubt friendships will change. Work, marriage and kids will take priority, but being there for each other should always remain.
Although traveling keeps me away, it’s traveling that makes me appreciate this and drives me to maintain the friendship I cherish.
Absence changes things. That’s truer with this category then either of the first two. Family and true friends will always be there, but girlfriends won’t. You have to put at least as much into this relationship as you expect to get out.
This is something I’ve struggled with. I focus my attention on the travel goals and personal aspirations that make me happy because I believe to make someone else happy, I must first be happy with myself and I’m not quite there yet.
At this point in my life I’d rather win a GoPro camera than the heart of some spicy Latina.
I realize this can most definitely be attributed to my dating history, but nevertheless, it concerns me.
Travel is addicting, it drives me to always want to do more, see more and experience new things. The concern is that I will always wonder what else is out there and that I might overlook a great thing when I find it.
While in Colombia, I came up with a new strategy to balance travel and these relationships. The plan is to keep things light but always have my eyes open for the real thing. Most of all, it’s the discipline and respect to be completely open and honest with everyone everything I do.
I don’t want to travel forever. In a few years I’ll settle down and be closer with family and friends. I want my nieces and nephews to know who I am. I want to fall in love and have some little adventurers of my own, but not just yet.
There will always be pressures to stay home and settle down. There will always be reasons to not do something.
It’s up to us to decide what’s most important in our lives and to make the sacrifices necessary to reach those dreams. For me at this point, it’s about traveling, exploring and creating something bigger than myself. For Lewis and Clark it was about influencing the development of the United States.
So as I sit here using this post as an open justification for my next adventure and future aspirations, I can’t help but to be inspired by the thoughts that this writing has uncovered…
Chase your dreams and strive to do more. Make big sacrifices and get lost in the moment. However, hold onto the people most important to you or you won’t have anyone to share your memories with when it’s all said and done.