Back on the Road

 In Blog

“Take what you want, says God, and pay for it.” – M.M. Kaye

It is the nature of choices that one precludes another. I resent this because there is nothing more frustrating to me than a path not taken, but I’m coming to terms with the rhythm of decisions: everything comes with a cost.

Chris and I are about to embark on the European leg of our year-long National Geographic assignment. We’ve been to 20 of our 50 destinations so far; the next month-and-a-half in Europe will put us over the halfway mark.

Our original intention was to travel for a continuous year, with a three-week break at the end of October to visit National Geographic headquarters, to see family and friends, do laundry, and catch up on sleep.

However, we made the choice to hop off the road a bit early to visit my 96-year-old grandmother, who was hospitalized. (She would like to assure everyone she’s doing “just fine, and not to worry”.)

This time with family has caused me to reflect on choices made. This year-long adventure is a dream come true. Chris and I plotted and planned and talked about little else for two years before proposing our idea to National Geographic, and suddenly – whoosh. Within a year we’re in the dream. And it’s an extraordinary journey, more than we could have hoped for.

But this year-long adventure is also harder than we could have imagined. Assignments, by their nature, are challenging. They’re supposed to be at this level. If they were easy, the test and subsequent achievement would be anemic.

It’s supposed to be hard. It’s what makes it fun. It’s what makes it worth pursuing. But it does come with a cost.

Aside from these (now two) fleeting visits, we won’t spend any time with our family and friends this year, which I find essential for calibration. Friends and family are good for the soul. We don’t have a home. We’re skating perilously close to the edge of a razor-thin budget. We won’t have a day off in an entire year. That’s the cost of our choice.

The reward is an adventure, and what an adventure: a new place every week. Friends yet to be made. A world unfolding before us, both on land and under the water. We’ve seen tawny nurse sharks battle with moray eels. We’ve seen the seabed 540 feet below the surface. We’ve visited ancient cultures and been welcomed into homes. It’s a whirlwind, and we’re using those stories to create something special. We can’t wait to share it with the world.

Take what you want, says God, and pay for it.

I said goodbye to my grandmother a few hours ago, hence the reflective, slightly maudlin tone to this first blog. They will lighten up, I promise. I also promise to be honest, true to the journey, and I will do my best to have one waiting for you to enjoy with your Monday morning coffee each week.

My grandmother told me she was “pleased and proud” Chris and I were off exploring the world. “Now, do your best to make it a better place,” she added.

We’ll do our best, Grandma.