“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.”
Rick Ridgeway, adventurer and mountaineer
Over two years ago, my husband lost his job. A common occurrence which I told myself not to get too worked up about. I was working sporadically from home. He could collect unemployment until a new job came along. We – him, myself, and our two kids – would be fine.
And then his company offered him a different job. Working overseas. We couldn’t go with him. And the money would help us tremendously. We would only be able to see him every 3-4 months.
During our numerous conversations – should he go? how would we manage? how would I manage? what will happen if…? – the one thing we kept landing on was the word opportunity. This was an opportunity. And in the moment, like it or not, good or bad, we needed to acknowledge all of the possibilities. We made our decision. He was going. At the time we thought it would be one year. And here we are, over two years later, and he is coming home. For good.
I learned long ago not to plan too much in life. Plans have a way of taking a backseat, reminding you, you’re not really in charge and never were. Two years of overseas work, our family separated by thousands of miles for weeks, this was definitely not in our plans.
The quote above sums up our journey – the best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask. How true!
My husband left in February of 2017 and he took his first two week break in May. About a month into his job, he asked me, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?”
He continued, “Let’s take this break overseas. Let’s explore the world in a way we had not planned and enjoy this opportunity.”
The question I never thought to ask when he was offered this job – If I could go anywhere in the world, where would I go? I was giddy.
After a LOT of research and knowing money was a deciding factor, I chose Scotland. Never in a million, billion, gazillion years did I dream I would have chosen Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye, but I did. And it was a dream.
This overseas work journey which began in dread and fear became a journey of adventure. We hiked with our kids among hills of green and watched the sun wash over us. We walked among fairy forests, the green of which I have never seen anywhere else. We stood on cliffs over a roaring ocean and allowed our breath to be taken away. We stood in dinosaur footprints, millions of years old. We ate fish and haggis, drank beer and hot tea. We did, and saw, and ate, and drank and laughed and loved every second.
We did the same for another break of his, exploring Nova Scotia, Canada. We watched a mother moose and her babe out for a sunset stroll, we hiked through forested hills which ended at the ocean and smiled at the most colorful sky-filled sunset I have ever seen. We spent two hours on a boat looking for whales only to be tossed and soaked by the coldest ocean on a sunny summer day. (Nary a whale in sight.) We climbed rocks and swam in the coldest water, found starfish and had bonfires on the beach. We opened our windows from the moment we awoke and kept them open until the last light of day brought goosebumps to our skin. We loved it.
For our final adventure, we traveled to Costa Rica and immersed ourselves in the country, living on a farm among the locals. We traveled to volcanos and the cloud forests, were chased by monkeys and saw more wildlife than I see in a year here in Maryland. We ate the most wonderful potatoes and fish and beans and rice, drank juice freshly squeezed from various fruits, and on this trip, were able to see a baby humpback whale and her momma passing through the area.
Had my husband not been laid off, had he not been offered the job overseas, had we not taken this leap of faith….we would have never traveled like we did. We would have continued to pay our bills, to work hard, to spend time with family and friends, and enjoyed our lives. That path would have been wonderful…but now that I know?…the other path brought us so much more.
We lept, with a little hope and a lot of faith, onto a path we had never planned, having no idea where we would land. And we landed in the most beautiful places around the world, meeting wonderful people, and learning so much.
You have plans for your life, things you want to do, places you want to visit, people you want to love. Hang onto those.
And at the same time, be open. Allow yourself to ask the questions you never dreamed, and take the journey to the answers you never imagined.
Our journey is coming to an end and although my happiness at having all of my people together again, under the same roof, for an endless amount of time is tremendous, a small part of me will miss this path.
I am grateful for the past two years. As we move forward, I will continue to carry for all of us, the promise that life doesn’t always go as planned and how amazing that can be.