A Window to Another World
How many waterfalls have you seen in your life? How many ocean sunsets? How many ancient forests with trees like flying buttresses in a cathedral of green? How many times have you seen mountains piercing the heavens with snow-capped peaks? An untouched alpine lake that reflects the stars like a sheet of glass? My guess is your answer to all of these questions is not enough. That was our answer, and we finally realized it just a short while ago.
Back in our more profligate days, the Grizzlies purchased a 70-inch LCD TV to adorn the wall of the bear cave. We were never big TV watchers – an episode of Game of Thrones or an occasional sporting event was the most use it ever received. It sat in our living room gathering dust; eating a tiny whole in our paycheck every month due to a $150 cable package.In addition to the cable package, when we bought the TV we also purchased a nifty little device from google called a chromecast – it enables you to share anything in a chrome browser quite easily on any screen. Great little gadget. But, it had another function entirely unknown to us. When you left the TV on with the Chromecast plugged in it cycles through pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. At first, we barely noticed them. Like so much background noise in our lives, they were a distraction. But after a while we started paying attention, they wormed their way into our brains. They were pictures of things we had never seen – the northern lights over a pristine snowfield or the emerald green hills of the Scottish Highlands.
When I was younger, I loved the outdoors. My dad took me camping on my uncle’s property in the Niangua River Valley of the Ozarks. I remember towering river bluffs, crystal springs, and magic caves tucked into the hills. In college, I lead backpacking trips and I had quite the collection of gear ready to go at a moments notice. I trudged up and down a not insignificant portion of the Appalachian Trail. I loved the feel of an empty trail, that tiny thrill of discovery as you round some unknown bend in the path, wondering what will be next. But when I left school other things started to get in the way. Four years in the Army took their toll and there was always SO much to do at my later jobs. Never a chance to go on a simple hike.
I put that gear away at some point. I never remarked on that particular moment in time, that day when I threw my backpack up onto the shelf in our garage. I didn’t know that it would be my last hike for years. I assumed that I would come back for it in a few weeks, maybe a few months. How many moments in our lives are like that? How many times do we do something for the last time without even noticing, without even marking the occasion? We let so many pieces of our lives simply slip through our fingers.
Those little pictures cycling on that screen on our wall made me remember. They made me remember what it was like to feel the cool breath of morning air on my cheek. Remember how the rocks of a mountain pass felt beneath the sole of a well-worn boot. They were a tiny window into another world. The world that I had left behind inadvertently so many years ago. We all spend so much of our lives working, so much of our time stuck behind desks and steering wheels that we almost forget that another world exists.
As part of this little journey to freedom my wife and I have made a pact. We’re going to see as many beautiful things as we can. We are going to share those moments with our kids, show them just how wonderful the world can be. When someone asks us how many of those beautiful pictures we’ve seen with our own eyes, our answer is not going to be ‘not enough’.
I’m a senior in college currently studying abroad in Seoul and I’m taking some unexpectedly difficult classes. I’ve found all my planned free time suddenly vanishing the more evenings and nights I spend in the library. Well, not anymore. Thanks for the enlightenment!
Glad to help!
My husband and I took a 2-year honeymoon and traveled around the world to 35 countries on less than $35,000. We are in our late 30s and are half way to FIRE and recently started a family and I’m not working. Maybe we’d be FIRE already if we hadn’t taken a break from our careers to travel but we’ve shared so many sunsets and mountain tops together that they will last for the next 10 years (until early retirement). Perhaps we could have done it in reverse but I’m very happy the way it worked out. Getting out the wanderlust helped me buckle down.
Not sure which way is actually better. A part of me wishes we’d been able to follow your path. The biggest problem for us was my time in the army and then in the reserves, I actually couldn’t just jet off. But it would have been appealing.
Couldn’t agree with this more. This year I was able to travel more than normal and to places I would not normally have chosen. For example, hiking in South America really opened my eyes to how much beauty is out there in places that we don’t normally think to look. And the people really left an impact on me – some people there have so little yet were so giving, welcoming and happy. Ever since then I’ve been questioning what the hell we’re all doing here. I’ve started noticing the people around me on my way to work and most days I see so many people who are miserable and hate that they’re forced to work jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people that they don’t really like. The girlfriend and I already have some pretty awesome hiking and camping trips planned for next year (and I give her a lot of credit because I know camping is definitely not her favorite thing in the world). Thanks for sharing this and all the other encouraging posts – looking forward to reading more.
You’re very welcome, and well said! Looking forward to hearing from you as well!