My first year out of high school.
I was living alone, renting out the second story of an old French woman’s house in Hyannisport, Cape Cod. I would eat cold breakfast cereal every morning at my tiny table set by the window looking into the Kennedy Compound. I abated the loneliness by reading books of adventurers who sailed south of Cape Horn and earned their golden left earring.
The frosty dawns at that table sparked much of the following decade, which found me jet setting to Australia, Brazil, and dozens of other countries in search of it.
What was it? It’s a akin to what Noah Gundersen describes in his song “First Defeat,” when he whispers,
It’s not a person or place,
but a feeling you can’t get back
As I proofread my latest book Bad Timing, I find myself pining to go backward and rediscover those ancient days on Cape Cod which seem like an eternity ago. At that time I had only left the country once to go to Haiti. If I could describe to my past self all the places I’ve seen and the things I’ve done in the past decade, I’m sure he would be amazed.
So why do I want to go back and unlive all this life?
Because at the same time, there are other voices whispering to me about what I really crave. One is telling me to charter a catamaran from Cancun and make it to my seventh continent. Another is telling me to find a lover, buy a home, and build a family.
Which is the path that leads to happiness? Or meaning?
Essentially, there are two murmurs inside me: One says I’m not brave enough to leave, the other says I’m not brave enough to stay.
I’ve been in Colorado almost a record time for me—just over a year. I told a friend last night that staying in one place like this feels like life is passing me by out there, where I’m not experiencing it like others are. Like Jay Alvarrez or Louis Cole are doing it correctly and I screwed up somewhere along the lines a few years ago which landed me back here in Littleton.
My biggest fear has always been to fulfill the statistic that most people end up living within a few miles of where they grew up.
The other side of me also loves my family and idealizes the tribal mentality which allows families to function as a beautiful unit which solves a lot of problems in our culture: The grandparents watch their grandkids all day while the parents work, and the family tribe is a picture of function and wholeness. No daycare, no guilt about abandoning their kids 8 hours a day, no annual flights to see grandma and grandpa, no grandparents missing the lives of their grandkids.
It’s almost like a unified family is how God designed us to work.
So which is right? The motorcycle trip from Mexico down to Argentina, or the settling in the suburbs? Ecclesiastes tells me that
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens
Maybe I’m still in the wandering phase and the time for settling will come. Maybe the right time will come to me slowly, the way a sun rises gradually into a new day. Maybe I’ll have to make the decision when responsibility forces me to.
For now though, I’m as single as the day I was born and dying for another trip. For one more backpack along the Chilean coastline. And then another El Camino after that. And then another…
Does it ever end?
Does being content ever get easier?