It was on a leap of faith that I quit my 9-5 job almost 2.5 years ago to write and travel the world. I’d dreamed of traveling for many years. I wanted to see the world. But more than anything else, my deepest, driving desire was (still is) to write. I believe the famous Thoreau quote, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” (And oh how I have been awarded with material. I have a list of books I want to write so long that it will take me a decade to write them.)
Three girls driving a rickshaw through India. That’d make a hell of a book don’t you think?
I quit my job to write and travel because I was afraid of the person I would become if I gave up on my dreams. I knew that if I turned my back on my desire to write that I’d be sacrificing the most essential part of myself.
When Brian and I flew home in January to take a job traveling the U.S.A. for Backpacker Magazine we did so with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. We didn’t know how it would turn out. We didn’t know if we would love it or hate it but we knew that we had to try.
But as the months have marched on I’ve found myself pulled farther and farther away from my dream of writing and creating something that will benefit the world. If you’ve seen our insane tour schedule than you know that we are constantly on the move. I have almost no time to write or even think some days. Other days, I carve out a single, solitary hour to work on the book I have been molding in my mind every day for the last two years.
More often than not, Brian and I are bleary-eyed and exhausted. Some days we have no idea what state we are in, much less what city. We’re stopped constantly by people who have questions for us or who come into our campsite at all hours of the day and night to talk (we are driving a very pimped-out Subaru and are hardly inconspicuous). We have no level of privacy. I told my Dad all of this over the phone and he said, “You have all of the downsides of fame but none of the money!”
It’s kind of hard to ignore this car.
The job has it upsides. We love giving our presentation to a roomful of people who love the outdoors as much as we do. We love meeting readers of our blogs. We love inspiring people to plan their next adventures and get outside more. The best parts of this job are pretty damn great. But at the end of the day, packing up our presentation materials and arriving back at our campsite at 11 p.m., I greet my dream at the door like a neglected dog, pat it on the head and say, “tomorrow, tomorrow.”
Yet, while my writing has suffered and I feel run ragged, I can see what a blessing this year in the U.S. has been. I am home to help a loved one navigate a very hard time. I was there when our beloved dog Bear passed away. I’ve spent more time with my family this year than I did the whole eight years I lived in Oregon. I’ve visited with old friends all around the U.S. Sure, my writing has suffered, but my soul has been fed in an entirely different way. I can see that this year back home has given me a gift I didn’t even know I needed.
Brian and I have a tradition. On our birthdays we sit the other down and ask questions about the previous year of our lives. What is your fondest memory of the year? What was the hardest part of the year? What was the best part? What have you learned? What do you think the upcoming year has in store for you?
When Brian asked me over dinner on my birthday last week what I’d learned in the last year, I realized that, though the year has seemed very intense and busy and so hectic that I can scarcely think, when I look back on my year I can see that it has given me a wild sense of clarity.
The year has redefined and solidified my passion for what I know I am here to do. And until the last penny drains from my bank account, until my soul no longer has the desire, I will keep plugging away at my dream. Because this is the deep truth: I know that this is what my life is for. And even though it continues to be scary and hard not knowing what is around the bend, it is also a future tingling with the thrill of possibility.
And so, friends, when October comes and this gig is over, Brian and I will keep rolling. And thanks to this hectic and tiring year my dreams are more clearly defined than ever. I have a renewed focus to give my time and energy to my writing. I want a desk and a quiet place to work, but I also crave the energy of a foreign land. I want to work hard and dig deep and dream big. I want to keep going, and I will.