The above question was very popular during the last year’s parlimentary elections in Poland. It was asked unexpectedly by a pepper (capsicum) farmer, who lost his crop and greenhouses to a tornado, to the Polish prime minister who was visiting the afflicted area.
The closer we get to the end of our sabbatical adventure, the more often we ask ourselves the same question. Such a long time away from our daily life has changed our perspective on many things. Though we miss our family and friends we would be ready to have another year of such an experience. Simple and modest life we have had for the past 11 months can be challenging at times. Nevertheless it seems more attractive to us than the constant pursuit and life under pressure. It is so easy to lose all of that going back into reality. The old habits and mechanisms come back. Ania reminded me recently a simple truth that we only have one earthly life. Well, how to live it then? …
Here are a few our observations about the things, which have been bringing us a lot of joy during our sabbatical. Obviously we would like to cultivate them after going back home.
Surround yourself with kind-hearted people
Definitely the biggest gift on our journey has been meeting and contacting with many kind people. Some would put us up under their roof, others shared their food, still others lent us their car for many days or gave us a lift somewhere or provided good tips. There have been many people giving us good word and support, authentic smile and gratitude. Being with such people is extremely uplifting and cures all the bad we hear about in the mass media. Such a joy will burn any pain.
Simple life (Pura Vida)
We noticed a clear tendency in many places in the world, both rich and poor. The simpler (not necessarily poorer, but often so) life people live, the happier they are. Danilo, who every morning with a big smile would take his cattle out to graze with his sons, the grateful kids with no toys in a kinder in El Porvenir, Honduras. Ian Hendry, our kiwi friend, who despite advanced years lives with passion and joy. Our modestly living neighbors in Fiji who eat mostly what they grow themselves or the Fijian kids who spend time in an interesting way without internet and other gadgets. I want to mention again something I have shared before. The simpler the life, the closer people are to God and pray more beautifully.
Openess to life
The beauty of our journey is that we are like a tree, which does not know where its next branch will sprout. This wanderer’s life means, tomorrow is pretty much unknown. There is no routine, no internal pressure, operational plans, goals etc. We go with the flow of things without clutching up much. The only mild pressure comes from watching our expenses. On the other hand “simple life” takes care of finances itself. By the way I would like to resolve the stereotype that ours is a nice long vacation and generally cakes and ale. Like in life, we have pleasant and unpleasant moments. It is important to be open to both. The former give us joy and energy, the latter develop us.
Arguably there is no better way to learn about each other than travelling together for a long time. Whether we want or not, we have been together through thick and thin. I suspect that many a relationship could break up during such a journey. Ours not only has survived but is stronger than ever. The same can be said about the bonds between our kids and between them and us. The time well spent together can only bring good fruit. During our sabbatical we have refreshed or started some family rituals. They include a joint daily prayer along with giving thanks for the past day, bedtime reading with kids, homeschooling, joint cooking and meals.
We believe the above thoughts have universal application starting with a pepper farmer and concluding with a family coming back home from a long journey. We hope you will find some inspriation in those as well.