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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

Ever since I've unveiled my plan to quit my job, abandon my comfortable life in northern Ohio and flee the country on a one-way ticket to South America, I've gotten a lot of questions and curiosity. And understandably so. What I'm doing is something that takes a lot of planning, a good amount of mental preparation, and a healthy dose of faith. A lot of people have expressed an interest in attempting something similar, to which I always reply, "DO IT!"

Editor's Note: I would like to disclaim, and perhaps apologize to anyone who has been in this situation with me, that I tend to be a bit aggressive when it comes to the matter of achieving one's life goals. I have heard many (re: MANY) people sigh wistfully in response to my plans and say, "God, I wish I could do that!" or "Man, I've always wanted to do that but I just can't..." or "I want to do that but I'd be too scared to even try."

To which I inevitably reply, with a certain degree of fervor and, at times, insanity, "YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!" My intention is never to persuade people to choose my path, attempt something they feel uncomfortable with, or to force others to live like me. To each his or her own. That is the foundation of my belief system, and therefore, when I respond enthusiastically and perhaps dreamily about how each person can do whatever the hell they want to do in this lifetime, it's always with the goal of demonstrating to others that a lot of our perceived restrictions and limitations are just that -- perceptions. I know the very real limitations of debt, mortgages, raising a family, needing a job, and the like. But my belief is that where there's a will, there's a way. If undoing the shackles of conventional life is a priority to you, then there's no time like the present. If raising a family and experiencing domestic stability is your priority, then for god's sake wait until you're ready to travel!

All that being said, I'd like to address some of the most common questions I receive regarding my upcoming trip. The conversations tend to unfold as I answer them below.

1.) When are you moving back? I have no idea. It might be in two months, it might be in three years. This is an open-ended, un-constructed trip for a reason. I want to see where the wind takes me, and discover opportunities that arise from chance, luck, fate, happenstance, poor planning, and otherwise. If nothing strikes me, or I run into money troubles, or there's an unexpected emergency somewhere, then I might be back much sooner. If I discover an unforeseen intersection of passion and opportunity, I might never move back. I just don't know. But I WILL come home to visit. At some point.

2.) Are you scared? Not really.

3.) Where will you live? My friend, travel partner and life soul mate Leslie has a situation with a family of a friend in the city where we'll be moving to first. They have an apartment available for us to rent for a good price.

4.) Will you have your own room? Internet? A washing machine? I have no idea.

5.) So you have a job lined up, I take it? Actually, I don't.

6.) What will you do then? I'm not sure, and this is where the concept of "creative living" comes into play. I feel quite confident that with my amassed skills, experience and interests that I will be able to find something. Anything, really. Leslie and I both bring a lot of talents and skills to our collective table, so I'd like to see us collaborate somehow. If our gut-wrenching, soul-splitting "HOLY HELL THIS IS MY LIFE'S DREAM" opportunity fails to present itself (which, really, it often takes a long time for that sort of thing to unfold), then we should be able to survive in a number of ways: teaching English, applying for odd jobs around the city, working at a hostel, doing translation work, teaching yoga etc. The fact that we know a family in the area helps to a large degree, since they will hopefully be able to provide us with a network of needs which we can fulfill in a dazzling, blonde, American fashion.

7.) What do your parents think? Aren't they terrified? I can't speak for my parents, but I think they're excited and maybe distantly nervous (Parents, feel free to chime in here). At any rate, they're used to this sort of thing from me; this isn't my first trip abroad, and it won't be my last. I've proven myself a capable world traveler, so I think they're pretty solid.

8.) What if you meet your husband in South America? You'll get pregnant and bear his children! You'll never come home! I guess that's a possibility, as much as it's a possibility that I'll join a monastery, decide to become a pastry chef, pursue my MBA or enjoy doing math. Anything is possible.

9.) What is this whole thing about "creative living"? This is a phrase I've thrown around for quite some time. I feel it fully encapsulates my general goal in life. I have been interested for several years in what it would be like to throw myself to the wind and see where life takes me. This doesn't assume a lack of planning or preparation though- I think creative living is a combination of skills, smarts and surrender. A couple of my goals for this trip include maximizing my adaptability in life, while retaining and refining those habits and goals which most benefit me. Embracing and promoting change while remaining steady on the inside. Things like that. I could expand but I don't want this to become epic.

10.) Have fun riding around on all those burros! Are you thinking of Mexico? Because I'm moving to Chile, and the burro is a cultural stereotype mostly derived from Central America. But I could be wrong. I will, however, have fun looking at all the alpacas.

Thank you for reading! If there are any other pressing questions I've failed to address, please let me know! I am happy to share!

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