Happy Independence Day, America!!
Seems fitting that we’re launching our blog on Independence Day (well, technically it’s July 5th, dawn local time in Thailand, but who’s counting), as it feels as if we’re declaring our independence as a family.
We want to become independent from the material and social trappings that make us –and perhaps many other families– feel stuck and unsatisfied with our lives. We are traveling, and eventually living abroad because we are choosing a freer life where family is defined by wherever we are at the moment, not necessarily by a fixed address. There is something to be said for continuity, creating a foundation, etc. for a family; but we feel that our foundation is defined by flexibility, open-mindedness, and not fixed, regimented routines in a stressful rat-race of a life.
Although we’ve lived in our current home in Texas for only 4 years (in Texas for total of 29 years) we’ve managed to feel trapped by our possessions and stuff. Instead of being a sanctuary, our home feels like an overgrown nest, or an overweight anchor. No, we’re not pack rats or hoarders by any means, but we want to shed the stuff and live more simply, ecologically smart, and be free from our lives being defined by the “stuff” we own.
We love living out of a suitcase, using what we have, and not feeling compelled to buy souvenirs or more “stuff” (sounding like a G. Carlin act–miss ya man) to fill up a home. (Well, except $3 shirts and pants to adequately meet the climate demands of Thailand, at the moment). It’s an emancipated sensation to be able to just follow through with an idea of a place to see, and taking all of our few belongings with us.
We don’t travel for the sake of traveling, nor to brag to others about our travel resume (“Check it out, we went to …, and you haven’t!”). We want to share our sense of joy and freedom gained by traveling, and to share the notion that traveling, or living abroad, can be accomplished on a small budget, and can become great life learning experiences for our child.
We find that being in Texas makes it harder to teach our child about the Asian culture, languages and the values of Buddhism. It makes sense to live in that culture and by those values because we are constantly surrounded by them here in Asia.
Our desire to live abroad is not because we dislike American life. It’s the contrary. Living life in the U.S. has become too comfortable, complacent most of the time on auto pilot. The U.S. will always be home, and our identity is grounded in our American-hood. However, we want to see and experience the world, and to help our child see that the world is small, and barriers such as language and culture, and geography are not boundaries at all.
For example, at the guest house in Chiang Mai, Thailand, our “package” has managed to befriend the owner’s young son, and they played for hours together despite the language and cultural “barriers.” We have also met and conversed with fascinating people, ranging from our TukTuk driver in Siem Reap, to young student monks in Thailand, all sharing their life experiences and their life goals as well. We try to go beyond the tourist traps, to get to know real people living their ordinary daily lives.
“Faith is taking the first step even though you cannot see the whole staircase” MLK
Having lead, organized and participated in many volunteer efforts in Texas, another goal for our family is to find ways to give back to other human beings less fortunate than we. It is easy for a child to grow up believing that life is all about “stuff” when surrounded by commercials, name brands and the like when they hold absolutely very little to no value.
It’s important to us that our little “package”aka M grows up to understand that life is a constant struggle for many people on earth; that we have had it really good; and that we must choose to be a part of the solutions, not the problem, to the many global problems we ALL face today. To this end we wish to continue our participation in choosing and working with organizations and efforts that are aligned with our values and beliefs.
A blog posting has to end at some point, so here’s a hearty welcome to our family adventure blog! While we do not define ourselves by our academic credentials (Social Worker and Psychologist), we feel that our educational training and life experiences have provided us with unique lenses to view the world. We hope to not only share those viewpoints and experiences with y’all (see, we’re Texan after all), but to have conversations with folks who desire to break free from the trappings of everyday life.
J, A & M