It’s a common misconception that in order to have a ‘real’ adventure, you have to travel out of county, out of state or province, or out of the country. Who says you have to leave home to have an adventure?
Lately I’ve been focusing on viewing the area I grew up in in the same light as I view the world when we’re on the road. For the first couple of weeks here in New Hampshire, I felt pretty distinctly uncomfortable. Something was missing, and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
Now don’t get me wrong, being able to see all my old friends again has been fantastic. It’s incredible how we can leave for months, even years, and still be able to pick right back up with our buddies the minute we touch base again. For the first time in a long time I’ve been able to go spend an afternoon hanging out with some of my old friends (and a few new ones as well), participate in a youth group, or go to the movies. It’s been a blast.
But despite the fun outings and the time with friends who feel more like family, life back ‘home’ wasn’t at all what I’d expected. It took me a while to figure out where the disconnect was.
In the end, I found that it was two issues. Firstly, one of the realities of growing up on the road is that you’ll never ‘fit in,’ no matter where you are. I don’t view this as a downside. I appreciate the different perspective travel has given me on the world around me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s who I am.
That said, it was a bit weird for me to come back to my culture, the country I grew up in, and still feel like a bit of an outsider. It wasn’t just that I look different from my friends, unconsciously use slang I’ve picked up in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, or think about things from a very different angle than they do. They accept me for who I am, and hardly notice. The confusing point was that this IS technically my culture, and yet I seem to fit into a culture all of my own that only other kids raised on the road can really ‘get.’ This has been the first time I’ve realized it to such an extent. I’ve come to the conclusion that this aspect of the way I’ve been raised isn’t a bad thing. It just is. I’ve accepted it. In fact, I rather like it.
Secondly, and more importantly, I had stopped looking at life as an adventure the minute I got back. We’ve come back to where we started, therefore the adventures must be over; my sense of wonder and exploration can kick back and relax for a few months. I’m at home, therefore I must settle into a work/school routine and allow myself to sink into a state of monotony.
I was a little shocked, honestly, that I could so easily slip into that mindset. It brought me back to an old question: What is home? I’ve been just as comfortable elsewhere as I am here. Just as at home. And yet, my spirit of adventure never wore off. So why should it here? I never stopped watching the world around me and learning from the culture I was in while overseas. Why should I treat America any differently? The snowmobile rides in the woods, the trips into Boston, the time spent walking through the countryside with Mom; what made these excursions less venturesome than similar activities in other countries? The uncomfortable truth: Only my assumptions and expectations.
I’m always learning. Most of the lessons that strike home the deepest are directly related to our travel. Today’s lesson: I don’t need to be on the road to have an adventure. There’s a river flowing outside my house. Trails in the woods to be explored. Friends to wander with. So long as I keep my eyes open and maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder, I’m all set; it doesn’t matter where I happen to be. It’s a little strange to have to relearn a lesson I thought I already knew. Ever had that happen?
Well, I’m off. It’s a little grey out today, but not so much so that I can’t grab a brother and go on a hike. I’ll leave you with this famous piece by Tolkien… it’s one of my favorites:
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.