browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

The Real Challenge

Posted by on 2 September 2010

I wrote a few days ago that the real challenges are inside us; the journey simply exposes them.

Here's my challenge: guilt.

And I don't even know, for certain, why.

I feel like I'm cheating the system. Living without the cost of a house and its utilities is less expensive. I know a lot of people who'd travel if only their significant other wanted to, or the kids were older or not born yet or whatever; if only they had a job that blah blah blah.

Everyone I talk to says, how nice for you. Some of them seem to mean, that's great; how can I make it better? But I feel, sometimes, like there's a subtext of, sure, you get to go driving all over creation, dragging your wife and little girl along, while the rest of us have to have a real job and be mature and keep civilisation from collapsing.

Yeah, maybe that's it; that's where the guilt comes from, in part. What nonsense.

It is not wrong to live an unconventional lifestyle. I've lived conventional. For years, I had work (which I loved) which was in an office. I had other responsibilities in life which made a location-specific life make the most sense.

Now, that's changed. We've built businesses which are location independent. Certain spiritual responsibilities are no longer mine, at least for the time being. Fiona's school allows her to go where and when we go. My friendships are worldwide, many of them virtual (which I'd like to change, which is another reason to travel.)

The only value in guilt is when we've done something wrong and need to correct our path.

Nothing doing. There's no reason for guilt here. I am making good choices with my family's best interests at heart.

Still, it lingers, that angry voice in the back of my head, whining about responsibility, what I owe.

Ah well. I'll keep listening to the voices that make sense.

10 Responses to The Real Challenge

  1. caitlyn

    I failed "Guilt 101". My dad didn't believe in it and my mum wasn't much of a guilt-tripper .... Somehow, the sighing of a martyr is different from the guilt trip.

    While this generally is a terrific way to live, it has caused its problems. It isn't that I never feel a twinge, but my ability to rationalize it into oblivion is well-developed and usually invisible to myself. So, if I am causing someone hardship, I rely on them to tell me. Directly.

    Even if any sane person could predict that the possibility of my actions causing distress, I am oblivious. You can imagine the outcome. Amazingly, I seem to keep friends and have only had to pay the price for this defect occasionally. However, I think that as long as you don't allow your guilt to paralyze you it is appropriate to explore its edges.

    While it is hard for me to believe that any adult would go along with your mad scheme unless she/he was mad and scheming in their own right, we know that couples can apply social and emotional pressure on each other without even meaning to do so. Add a 6-year old, and any sane person can predict there is the potential for distress in your nomadic madness.

    I think the guilt is your best self finding the appropriate setting so you will remain vigilant but not hyper-vigilant and not complacent when it comes to regular checks on the well-being of your loved ones. At the moment, it looks like all systems are happy and secure!

  2. Dorothy Shapland

    How wonderful that you are sharing your conversation with feelings like guilt. So many people hide from it! This is what makes your journey such a delight to witness!

    (Oh, and I most often face guilty feelings about being too content in one place...)

  3. Marcos Gaser

    But I feel, sometimes, like there’s a subtext of, sure, you get to go driving all over creation, dragging your wife and little girl along, while the rest of us have to have a real job and be mature and keep civilisation from collapsing.

    I had the exact same experience during last 18 years. You sure is guilt what you are feeling? Or maybe the helplessness of cannot explaining them why are you doing this? I used to get that a lot. Then I finally understood that you cannot help someone if he does not want to be helped. It is like explaining colours to the blind. Or explaining the Matrix to the people that haven't swallowed the red pill yet.

    Maybe you feel the reaction to the envy or resentment because you are doing what they secretly wish but not dare. This is just a reaction to their feelings. You cannot change them, only your own reaction.

    You just have to love them such as they are, and be oblivious to their opinions.

  4. Joel D Canfield

    Marcos, that's insightful. It feels right. I wish some people understood why this is such a wonderful experience for all three of us, how it's not a big risky scary life, it's the simplest most secure life we can imagine right now.

    Yeah. Sue says "Thank you, Marcos." Feels exactly right to both of us.

    Love them as they are, and be oblivious to their opinions. I can do that.

  5. Denise Green

    Loved your response to Pam

    "...I drink all night and I sleep all day."

    On guilt, James Flaherty (author and uber trainer or coaches) says that guilt is the most useless of all moods (I am not quoting so forgive me James). It's a way for people to feel as though they are doing something without actually doing something. It saps your energy and gives nothing back.
    So let it go and pick another mood that fills you up.

  6. Joel D Canfield

    Howdy, Denise! Marcos, a couple comments above you, helped me sort out that what I'm feeling is misunderstood, which I can deal with.

    Yup; guilt serves a very limited purpose, and for this adventure, none at all.

    Now I'm off to see what Brilliance, Inc. might be about . . .

    "On Wednesdays I go shoppin' and have buttered scones for tea"

  7. Ian Walker

    Your journey may well be understood, or in your case mis-understood by many to be "eccentric" and it seems that would attract some bewildered observers... I for one, enjoy eccentric people who not only step outside of the mold, but actually thrive!

    Edith Sitwell, said, and this seems to echo what has previously been commented on and what you have arrived at -

    "Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd."

  8. Joel D Canfield

    Marvelous quote, Ian. I was not familiar with Sitwell, but a quick search tells me she's worth investigating.

    I continue to be delighted and amazed that I can have enlightening conversations like this with friends from all over the world.

  9. Ric

    My wife just blurted this out on Sunday:

    “But is it OK to not own a house and a car? Isn’t that IRRESPONSIBLE?!?!”

    Part of her means it, part of her doesn’t. She’s just as excited as me at the prospect of reducing our financial footprint to such UNAMERICAN proportions. But then this doubt sneaks in. Our parents raised us to pay mortgages for 30 years and drive cars for 20. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that the secure way to live your life?

    Well, I’ve owned a car for 15 years. Summer without air conditioning is so totally over-rated. And I've been paying mortgages for the past 13 years. Also, very over-rated. Not sure where that leaves me...

    Then, there’s the last Big Question: how do you measure success without a Big House and a Nice New Car? Seems to me the answer is: YOU MEASURE IN SOME OTHER MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL WAY.

    Go, Canfields. Measure the heck out of the Universe!

  10. Joel D Canfield

    Ric, you folks are going to love the feeling of freedom, and you'll also realise how very responsible it is to only own what you need. We're sorting through all kinds of stuff wondering why on earth is this laying in our closet when someone who actually needs it could be using it?

    I watched a video of a presentation by Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding (see our 'Other Nomads' links to the right.) He made the claim that instead of measuring wealth in things we should measure it in time; that way, no one is richer or poorer than anyone else.

    I've chosen to refine that a little. Henceforth, I measure wealth in time spent doing what I want to do, not what I have to do.

    I am very wealthy indeed, and gettin' richer all the time.

Leave a Reply