“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black and white.” – Mark Jenkins
The above quote made me think. It made me think really hard. There is so much wonderful happening in our lives right now that it is hard to imagine not having taken this leap of faith, this calculated, yet, life-altering, heavy on the risks, journey. Yet, I do, however seldom, question our decision in the dark recesses of my mind, late at night while listening to the even breathing of the people I love more than I could ever express, more than life itself. Perhaps occasionally I allow my mind to wander to the criticisms of others. Perhaps, occasionally, I let the hooks of indoctrination pull me back into the societal norms, the empty promises echoed by the “real world”. I do this, of course, because I am a mom. My children have been entrusted into the care of Dan and myself by God Himself. There is no more important facet of my life than to raise the most amazing, giving, kind, loving, productive and happy people the world has ever seen. My desire isn’t to raise lawyers and doctors. My goal is not to have wealthy children, who have all the luxuries the world can offer. Not even close. My deepest desire, my whole reason for being is to raise 12 children who will grow to be individuals who change the world. Literally change the world.
And this knowledge is what reinforces my participation, my determination to embrace our decision to show our children a new way of life, a new lens, so to speak, with which to view the world … via travel. Travel first, in this country. And then embark globally. Let’s face it, this country, heck the world, needs more people that are globally aware. Look at our leaders. Look at our countrymen. Far, far from being a reason not to travel and seek adventure, our children are, undoubtedly, the most compelling reason to do both!
Prior to embarking on this journey, our kids were under the impression that everyone was either white or hispanic, everyone went to church, people were close-minded and not terribly friendly, certainly not hospitable and that money, as much as one could possibly hoarde, is the only way to survive. How, Why??? Because we lived in a small Colorado town, nestled between Vail and Aspen with little to no ethnicity outside Hispanics and Whites. The price of everything was through the roof – real estate, food, clothes, household goods, vehicles … the cost of living was not that which anyone could afford. People aspired to work for work’s sake. Since we’ve been out on the road we’ve met so many different people from different walks of life, experienced real Southern Hospitality, and it’s been proven, time and time again, that money has zero effect on one’s happiness. The happiest person we’ve met, one of our absolute favorite people, is of little means; yet, he’s also one of the happiest. He lives his life, minute by minute and is genuinely totally, extremely happy!
Prior to this adventure, our kids fought like banshees over everything. It’s every parents biggest complaint. Dan swears it drove his mom to the brinks of insanity. And so it was with us. Just for fun, imagine your home with 10 more kids – all fighting at different intervals throughout the day. Not that they each fought 24/7, but rather, a different two every few minutes. There was no peace! The excesses of our 3,000+ sq foot home did nothing to alleviate this fact, and in all actuality probably contributed to the “it’s mine” mentality that despite our greatest efforts could not thwart. In the process of learning, not a fast or easy process, to co-exist in a 300 sq ft home, we are learning patience, as much for our own sanity as for the world around us. Patience and charity – we are a work in progress, but getting better everyday!
Pre-trip the only independent readers were Kerry, Kady and Maddy. Anytime I handed them a book or merely suggested sitting down to read they would invariably say, and I quote, “I hate to read”. Now, with the elimination of TV, Playstation, and all electronics really, except computers (and Dan will not share his pricey wifi with them) and Kindles, they’ve all learned to love books. From Fight Club to Tuck Everlasting, from In the Call of the Wild to The Giver to Hatchet the boys are reading and they love it. And just as remarkable, Grady has finished 11th grade and is now studying Android App development. He has an idea for a game and finished school early in order to pursue this – he’s learning Java … now that’s some real world value if I’ve ever heard it! It seems that given the alternative of staring at each other as we travel, or reading they have chosen reading and individual based learning. I’m more astonished than anyone, trust me!!
Even I have evolved. Our homeschooling philosophy has advanced as well. In the past, I’ve found myself teaching during the school hours and then that was it. The learning stopped as soon as the clock struck twelve or as soon as the kids were done with lessons. I’ve long felt a push from God to possibly explore the wonders of unschooling – perhaps not to abandon all structured learning, but to incorporate it in and produce a much more exciting and interesting learning environment. I’ve pushed back, but a week or so ago I had a revelation. Learning is an everyday all day thing. Kids are learning every second of every day and they don’t even know it. This realization led to probably the most profound thought I’ve had in a while. Learning to kayak is all play. Learning to snowboard and to climb and to ride a bike … all play, all fun and kids soak it up. I am schooling 9 kids – all who thrive in different educational settings, none who don’t thrive by visual means, none who don’t thrive when participating in hands on activities. Now learning is more of an all day affair, I’ve revived the teacher in me, the double major/minor college graduate. I have a BA in English and a BA in Political Science, I have a Humanities Minor – I got this!
Reading is the means to all knowledge. If you can read you can learn…anything. No more do you go to the library and use the card catalog – we have the Internet. No longer must you diagram sentences or learn cursive – the keyboard is the new age ink. Even analog clocks are outdated … digital is everywhere. We are going back to the basics when everyone learned and learning was fun. The three R’s. Reading (tons of it), Riting (more than they care to do) and Rithmetic (via SOS). They write blogs for Jackson Kayak, they will write KelloggShow blogs, they write creative essays, technical essays, opinionated essays, product reviews, movie reviews, book reports, they journal, the list is endless. In today’s world, one must complete Algebra II and Geometry, huge focus there. This is Dan’s domain. He owns it. He’s patient, knowledgable, and awesome! 🙂 He somehow gets the kids to want to do more math, and they have his genes, not one of them struggles in this arena!! Their creativity, their awareness, their eagerness to learn, it’s so encouraging.
The biggest thrill to Dan and I in all of this is that we are living it with our kids. We are ensuring that they will have wings that are eager to fly when their time comes to change the world. We are not merely telling them they can do whatever they desire most. We’re not sitting behind a desk or working a dead-end job, living a completely unfulfilling life telling our kids that they have to follow their dreams. We are living proof that reality is what you make it. Reality is fully negotiable. World changers must have this mindset. They cannot become ensnared by their circumstances, they must fly, they must soar.
“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi
Our children will never be bird’s without wings!