Here is what I am discovering: When you talk about yourself for a living you meet kindred souls. The same is true when you write about yourself for a living (I have met so many of you through this blog), but when you talk about yourself you stand face to face with the audience and the connection is immediate and undeniable.
Already, only 6 presentations in, I’ve noticed that when I’m approached afterwards by someone with a certain twinkle in her eye or a grin on her face I know, even before she (or he) says a word, that we see the world in a similar way.
When Brian and I tell people that we have been homeless for two years and are, for the moment, living out of a tent they either think that we are crazy or they are jealous. You can imagine which group we end up having beers with afterwards.
My point is, when we are traveling internationally and meet other Americans they are travelers too. They tend to understand what drives us and why we are out exploring the world. Now that we are back in the states there are less people who get it and more who ask us how we are surviving. They want details. What about retirement? (Our goal is to build lives we don’t want to retire from) What about health insurance? (We buy it like anyone who is self-employed). What about money? (We don’t need much because we don’t have much).
This is the American Way. It is completely acceptable to work yourself to death in a job you hate so that you can buy expensive things, accumulate debt and spend your nights sleepless and wide-eyed with stress but less acceptable to trade in that life for less stuff, less stress, less money but more freedom.
A man came up to me after our presentation last night, he was probably in his late 70’s, and he asked about our travels and our job giving these presentations all over the country. Then he asked what we planned to do when we grew up. The question made me pause because, well, I am grown up. So I explained that our 9-5 jobs and cubicles made us feel profoundly unfulfilled and that now we are happier than we have ever been. I held my breath anticipating his response but instead he said, “You’re living, aren’t you?” And it was the way he said living, like it was something to be done and not just something that happens, that made me know he understood.
So I nodded my head and said simply, yes.