Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hitting the Reset Button

Written by Karen
Potsdam, Germany
I think now, almost compulsively, about the future and wonder, how did I get to this place?  How did we both get to this point in our lives – at the peak of our careers, the height of our earning power and the collection of all that stuff that results from building our lives together – and willingly take this leap of faith into the unknown? To have the fearless courage to hit the reset button and have this concoction of emotions running amok with excitement about the future possibilities way out in front of fear, anxiety and doubt?
Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

We are really going to do this. We are going to walk away from our current lifestyle, rent out our home, leave our jobs, sell our excess stuff and take a gap year – or two - and explore our world and the opportunities that come with that exploration. We are going to actualize this dream of ours now, instead of waiting until sometime in the future when we are retired. Why? We are going to step out of our roles, long defined by black-and-white lines and learn to play with color outside the lines again. Why? Because we can. The bigger question to answer is, why not? 

Looking back over the past couple of years, the signs that have lead us to this decision point were always there, but when did I actually start paying attention?

Was it the constant focus on our future – saving, preparing, saying ‘one day’ and not taking time to live a balanced life in the here and now?  Was it when Adam’s genetic blueprint required him to have an unexpected quadruple heart bypass surgery at the young age of 50?  Was it the economic downturn when our retirement savings took a hit, along with everyone else’s who followed the rules of working hard and saving for your future? Was it the relentless drum beating of the news media falling over themselves to give us constant bad news, potential bad news, and, speculative bad news? The economy; the weak dollar; the housing crisis; executive bonuses; high and persistent unemployment numbers; too big to fail; the credit crisis; the debt ceiling; promises of cuts, reorganizations and longer work days; future taxes; all adding to the drip, drip, drip of uncertainty that digs a hole around us all.  Was it the growing recognition that all of this material accumulation was for what, exactly? 

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands
Maybe and perhaps a little. Those road signs did help me catalyze my thoughts into an answer to the question of why, and why now?  It seemed like all the economic indicators were aligning themselves properly to allow us to take a break; a sabbatical; a gap year.  Now, while we were still young enough to fully embrace the future and willing to implement the changes that were bound to occur.

However, the question of why not, was more philosophical.  At least for me, it is more significant because we are we not being forced into this decision of change.  We are not escaping or running away from an upside down mortgage, job, economy or lifestyle.  We don’t have to change our lives so radically, if at all.  We have a great life.  We can tune out the drip, drip, drip of uncertainty and continue to live our established and perfectly fine lifestyle.  But it seems time to try something new. So, indeed, we are choosing to walk away from the known into the unknown of our own volition and accord, with our eyes wide open to see what is just around the bend. 

As George Bernard Shaw said, "You see things, and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were, and I say, "Why not?"

Lucerne, Switzerland
Why not?  Because it is time to hit the reset button and look to the wide, open horizon of change, opportunity, possibilities, unscheduled time and share those experiences with my partner in life – the man I love intensely – even now, after some 23 years of marriage.  Why not? Because who knows what our lives will look like in a year? Why not? Because who knows how much time we all have left?  Why not?  Because we must try and grab that brass ring that defines us and our dreams – even if we try and try again, and still come up short.  At least we tried.

This is scary.  I’m aware of the risks.  But, there is also the recognition that if not now, when?  Time flies by so quickly.  Will we be given another opportunity to live in the moment and seize the day?  I don’t know. Because, in fact, won’t there always be something else that will tie us up into a safe cocoon of warmth, comfort and convenience? 

I think it’s just as scary to not have tried; to not have done; to not have experienced your dreams; to not have left your safe harbor; and, not chosen to go true north. 

Santa Cruz Harbor
So, it does come down to a choice. And, I choose change – the unknown with all of its risks and rewards. The consequences of changing our lives so dramatically are significant.  I know that.  We know that.  But, I know we will be ok.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbor, and catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream.  Discover.”   Mark Twain

1 comment:

MoneyIQ said...

My reaction when I'm reading your posts is that it is mirroring exactly the writings of many writer/philosophers who expound on better ways to live your life- and you are doing it! The books that I'm reading, which all are inspiring to me and helping me to tear down my own walls of limited thinking, all encourage the reader to take a risk, to expand one's world, to take a leap of faith, to follow one's passion. Because, they say, the world will then open up even further. And, they seem to agree, this kind of journey starts with the expansion of the mind, which is why it's so interesting for me to get a glimpse of what you are thinking, because it is obvious that you are expanding your mind and options. Literally, your world is going to get bigger, already is