Dear Naysayer,

First, I don’t want to come off sounding like I am condemning you and your opinions because honestly I really do appreciate your thoughts and your concerns because I know you only care.  And none of what I am about to say is meant to be disrespectful, it’s just that you’ve given me much to think about and respond to and while usually I would probably just let it slide I’m on a new course now and I think there are a few things you need to know.

Whether you already guessed or can sense it, I’m seeking something different in my life now.  I’m not thrilled with many aspects of my job.  I’m not thrilled with many aspects of my life.  I feel trapped, like I can’t move forward or backwards.  I’m stuck in a state of meaninglessness and I know that if I don’t make a move now I’ll probably be trapped in this hell forever and frankly I can’t see myself surviving very long in that state.

I don’t really know when it happened, it just did.  I can’t say there was a particular day I woke up and realized that my life wasn’t what I had hoped or dreamed it would be.  I really have no one to blame but myself.  I wasn’t daring enough.  I didn’t embrace risk.  I didn’t venture out from beyond my own yard.  I was that neighbor who stayed inside all the time, peering out from behind the drapes eying the world around him with cautious and suspicious eyes.  I played it way too safe.  Only now do I realize that I was stealing from myself.  Over the years I had been assimilated into the dream except the dream wasn’t my own.  I had bought into the slick advertising.  It was a dream I was told was exactly what I needed.  But it wasn’t and isn’t.

Look, your points are valid.  At my age and with a family to support I do need to think about saving for retirement.  I do need to think about my kid’s future.  I do need access to quality and affordable healthcare and to live a healthy lifestyle.  I do need to figure out how I am going to earn a living.  I do need to consider the future.  But try and understand, that is exactly what I am doing with this sabbatical.

Saving for retirement is a good idea but is it still a good idea when it’s at the expense of your life now? Let’s face it, most of us don’t know the day and time of our demise.  The past is done and gone so forget that and let it go.  The future is unknown and unpredictable.  All we have is the here and now.  How many of us have bought into the whole ‘life delayed’ song and dance and then realized that we sacrificed the best years of our life for what?  No, your concept is correct but your methods are wrong.  We can have our cake and eat it too.  Saving and planning for the future and living in the here and now are not incompatible.

So you say I shouldn’t embark on great adventures because I have kids?  I think this is probably the biggest reason to take this journey.  This is probably the best education my kids will ever get.  How many kids their age get to experience a different culture by actually living in that culture?  How many kids are actually truly bilingual?  How many have studied places like Borobudur and Prambanan in books and then actually walked upon them and seen them with their own eyes?  This will be a real education teaching them far more than they can learn sitting in a classroom.

Yeah, the economy is floundering right now.  I understand that.  I’m fortunate to have a job that pays the bills.  I’m thankful for that.  But a job needs to be more than just a means to an end.  It has to have meaning and fulfillment because when it doesn’t it’s nothing more than a prison.  If you’re not doing what you really want to be doing then what are you doing and why are you doing it?  Are you living to work or working to live?  Sure it’s risky to quit it all and try a new direction.  But try and think about it this way.  What is the worst case scenario?  Think about the absolutely worst thing that can happen.  Can you recover from that?  Can you get back up on your feet and keep moving forward?  Chances are when you really think about it you can and you would.

Hey, you have a great job too.  Do you really think it’s safe from the corporate axe?  You’re kidding yourself if you think that’s true.  How’s that commercial go, “Life comes at you quickly”?  It can and it does at times.  But we persevere and we keep going.  We adjust and we adapt.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I do appreciate your concern I just have no room in my life for negativity.  If you can’t be positive then please just smile and wish us a good adventure and an amazing life.  Maybe we’ll end up crawling back but we’ll be crawling back with incredible stories to tell and we will no longer have that nagging question in the back of our minds; “What if we had taken that sabbatical to Indonesia?”


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