I always take time to travel. Anyone who knows me knows this. My friend Isaak always said I had “wanderlust” when we were young. After researching this concept, I had to say I agree. I definitely feel something akin to a migratory urge if I don’t go seek out new places and adventures on an annual basis! In fact, one of my life’s greatest disappointments is that I’ll never get to see as much of the world as I would like to, no matter how hard I try. I'm not entirely certain why I'm writing this today. I guess I feel like I really have to forcefully put out there that I literally don't care what people think about what I do or why I do it. This is my way of saying, "I don't want to hear it."
It’s not like I’m [classically] wealthy. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to secure my next adventure abroad. In fact, I’ve deliberately structured my career and life around the ability to have both the time and the money to travel every year. It’s not an accident. I make it happen. And when Lu joins me, I make it happen for him, too. (Yes, that’s right, I save up money so Lu can join me. It’s my gift to him! He plans to repay the favor with a big trip we are planning this fall).
It’s amazing how much my traveling seems to upset people. I’ve been accused by people (mostly family) of being selfish (never mind all the hard work it takes for me to get there), or of taking too many ‘vacations.’ (Trust me, there’s a huge difference between travel and a vacation)! Somehow my adventures have something to do with them. (Mostly it just points out some glaring inner inadequacy, such as regret. Which is perplexing... 'Let me get this straight... You regret not ever going anywhere, and my traveling stirs you up to the point that you wish I also shared in your sense of regret by not traveling)? '
But seriously, it’s not like a backpacking trip through Romania just falls out of the sky, people! If you want something, make it happen! If you’re not making it happen, then something else is obviously more important to you. And that’s awesome! Just don’t get your feathers ruffled about my own priorities. My own enrichment and education shouldn’t bother anyone.
Okay, I’m ranting. Seriously, though. I know I’m extremely lucky to have created a life where I get to travel often. One of the biggest benefits of my life is that I had no direction from adults growing up. Literally no one cared one way or the other if I graduated high school, went to college, had kids or not, what job I got, what career I planned to pursue, that I got horses, etc. No one acted like they expected much of anything from me and I liked that. It meant I got to make my own decisions, for better or for worse, with zero parental backlash. I didn’t have to live up to or risk failing anyone’s expectations but my own. Sometimes I would look at my peers struggle with their parents’ input on their lives and I felt extremely blessed to be free of that. Whatever I created was my own decision.
So recently, when one of my parents chided me for my upcoming trip to Europe this summer, I bristled.
(“You need to start planning for retirement instead of spending your money! Do you have a retirement account?”
“No.” Do YOU? That would have been a better answer.)
Okay, so I don’t have any money. Well, not much, anyway. But you know what I DO have that my parents don’t? (Aside from half a lifetime of amazing adventures, I mean).
This is my cremation package. It was Lu's idea. My cremation is already paid for, and the company will come pick up my body anywhere in the world and bring it back for the cremation process. It includes a photo frame, a pretty box and a nice biodegradable urn that you can bury or drop in the sea. I think I’d like mine planted into a tree. My point is, I’ve made advance preparations for myself, to the end. I feel it is the epitome of personal responsibility. It’s not something myself or others are going to have to worry about.
Ultimately, it isn’t about the money. Money comes and goes. I’ve seen people hoard their money their whole lives and pass away before they could go out and live. I've seen people waste their money on entertainment purchases, their lives passing them by while staring at a screen. Like most everything else in my life, I’ll deal with retirement when it comes. Until then, I refuse to pass up on risks and opportunities because of the what-ifs of the future. Plus, it's none of their business how I'm spending my own money. At the risk of sounding cliché, I could get killed while driving down the highway tomorrow. The point is, live a life with no regrets. Screw what others say. Make it happen.