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Why We're Not Crazy

Posted by on 24 June 2010

Amidst all the excitement and enthusiasm, some very real consternation has surfaced among some who know us. Since its source is their genuine concern for us, and since others may well be thinking the same things, I thought it was time to clarify things so y'all know you don't have to worry about us.

First and foremost, I will never knowingly endanger my family's well-being or happiness. My primary job is to care for my wife and daughter, in part, by caring for myself.

And the first of the first is our spiritual well-being. Whether or not you share a specific religious bent, you certainly realise that there is more to life than what we eat and what we wear. I know that there are things more important than me, that the Greater Good outweighs my personal benefit, and, by extension, my family's. We plan to continue, and, if possible, increase our volunteer work, and have plans in place to reinforce ourselves to offset the potential instability traveling can introduce.

Which brings up the second point: stability. Don't we need a home, a car, a fixed place, to provide our daughter the life a 6-year-old needs?

No, we don't. What she needs is not things, but people. The love of her family, undivided attention, counsel and guidance, correction and discipline, play and adventure—those, she needs. She does not need to live in the same house for five years, or know that the store is only five minutes by car. Those are luxuries which the bulk of the world lives without every single day. I want her to know that.

As far as luxuries, here's a sneaky little tidbit: I firmly believe our standard of living is about to experience a serious upgrade. Now, we're pretty frugal. We live a simple life. But not a life of deprivation. We love good food. We love sitting in front of a great movie on TV. We love good music (and my room full of musical instruments and recording equipment.) We like sturdy fun clothing, and maybe more than anything else, we like sleeping in a nice soft bed.

I'm not giving that stuff up. We're not planning on using our backpacks for pillows as we collapse exhausted under the hedgerows. That's no kind of life, and not what we're seeking.

But we're not materialistic. We have far more stuff than we could possibly need or will ever use. If we got rid of 90% of it, we'd barely miss it. Even if we decide to call this whole adventure off, that's still gonna happen because we're just plain tired of being responsible for all this stuff.

How can we possibly make a living if we're traveling? Well, my short answer to that is, I sure haven't been wildly successful making a living by not traveling. My last two jobs disappeared overnight when the companies shut down. Our own companies have started growing, finally, and that's the very reason travel has become essential. There is plenty of work for us, but for now, we need to go to the work, since it's not coming to us.

Aren't we biting off more than we can chew? Not yet. Sure, there's a banquet on the table. Right now, we've simply put a nice salad on our plate. The only thing we've committed to at this point is that we'll be in Vancouver for most of the month of August. After that, we could come home and announce that the experiment is over and we're done. It's not likely, but for now, we're not committing to anything without knowing what we're getting ourselves into. This is an experiment, and each step is a gentle testing of the ground to ensure that we don't lose our footing.

Sure; I've shared some wild goals here, talking about living without most of our possessions, a home and car, all that. It's still the plan.

But plans change. We can't foretell the future any better than anyone else. But we'd rather choose a future and try to make it happen than to simply sit here and let life be something which happens to us.

We're seeking a simpler life, not a more complicated one. We're trying to need less stuff and have more time.

We've settled on some tentative goals; I'll share those later. But even those are subject to review and adjustment every step of the way.

Like I said: we know we can swim, but we're still gonna make sure there's water in the pool before we jump in.

7 Responses to Why We're Not Crazy

  1. caitlyn

    Oh my. You may be crazy, but that's not a bad thing. Children grow up in spite of some of our best and worst offerings. Those who have lived in the same house, on the same street, with the same neighbours all their lives are not more blessed than those who have rarely stayed long enough to get to know the neighbours.

    I think you are exactly right that it is about people. If your daughter counts more than a dozen people as "family" and knows she is welcome now and when she is 18 and when she is exploring her own nomadic midlife (should she choose to), she has more stability than someone who doesn't know how to survive in the new city that offers a tantalizing new job.

    My son (http://adamcotterall.com), now grown, had 19 homes before leaving home. He's had 2 of his own. He also has 3 university degrees, including an MBA from Canada's most prestigious university, a smart, loving, beautiful, talented wife (http://LyndsayLondon.com), a cat, and about a million people, give or take half a million, who love him fiercely. We collected friends and family, we didn't move "away" - well, sometimes we did - but mostly we moved "to". I think your daughter will be a richer, more resourceful person for not having most of her significant influences coming from one style of neighbourhood/person/socio-economic class/belief system.

    In closing, you make a good case for your craziness, but I'm not sure you've convinced me you aren't crazy! Of course, I might not be the best judge....

  2. Joel D Canfield

    Okay, I retract a literal interpretation of my title. I take a look at the people who seem to care about me, and sure enough, we're all about half a bubble off plumb.

    I seem to have weathered my 24-hour confidence crisis—at least for now ;)

  3. Tom Bentley

    Well Joel, let's not hedge here: you certainly are crazy, which is why we admire you. (I enjoy slinging the universal "we" as much as anyone.) No, you are good-crazy, which means you see that life has stripes and not blank boxes. I think Fiona is lucky to have parents who are introducing her to unconventional paths and a richer questioning of what this boggling business of life is all about. After all, what has convention brought us so far? Sensible shoes, bah!

    Anyway, as you say, you can work on the experiment a bit, see how it feels, and withdraw or redraw at will. Sounds good...

  4. Joel D Canfield

    I swapped my sensible shoes for huaraches with tire-tread soles looooong ago ;)

  5. Christine Giri

    Ok - I am now getting the full picture. I was not aware that Canada was not just a vacation, it is changing your lives. No, you are so not crazy. I think it is a fabulous thing. Since your daughter is home schooled, what in the world could keep you tied down. The beauty of virtual is virtual! Our family is very fortunate to have traveled to many parts of the world, and most of our family is from another part of the world. I actually feel like I am wilting living in Rocklin and often take my kids to the bay area to at least get in touch with different people. My youngest sometimes finds it very difficult to be in schools where families and teachers do not travel and are so wound up in their politics and religion having never experienced anything different. Your daughter is going to get the best education possible - rock on Canfield Family!

  6. Sue L Canfield

    Let's admit it. We all went crazy years ago! Who knows what normal is anymore. The important thing here is that we have fun while staying sensible. Okay, somewhat sensible. No sleeping in gutters or anything like that.

    Thank you for your comments Caitlyn, Tom and Christine!

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