Background, Politics, Social Life

The point of it all…

The author boarding a plane to the rest of his life.

The author boarding a plane to the rest of his life.

So what’s the point of this journey I’m on? I’ve been asked that question by a number of people and I always give the same answer…

“Why do I need a goal?”

My goal, if I must define one, is to live a different life than the one I’ve lived the last 44 years. I did the “normal” North American life. And while yes, I was not miserable living this life most of the time, I can’t honestly say I was living my life consciously or purposefully.

Like most, I just barrelled forward through life without giving it much thought. After high school I went to University because that’s just what you did in my circle. After that I got married, got a job, got a better job, bought a house, had kids, etc. Again, pretty much a “normal” life and very similar to almost every other person I know.

With the exception of my children, I can’t say had any of the rest of that stuff not turned out the way it did I would have been any more or less happy with life. My children are the ONE reason why I am not regretful of the life I’ve lived to date. They are everything to me and I couldn’t be prouder of the people they have become.

I did what I was expected to do by my parents, relatives, friends and society in general. The problem is, deep down, it didn’t feel right. I have known for some time That I don’t think like the majority of Western society. My views on politics and social justice are far left. I consider myself a libertarian socialist. If anyone wants to know what that means, read Noam Chomsky because that’s what he is. Also Murray Bookchin is another good source.

I believe the means of production (without trying to sound Marxist) should belong to everyone. While I’m not a Marxist, I believe firmly in the adage “From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.” In other words, I despise what has become of our society because of the rampant expansion of a perverted form of capitalism. And yes, I say perverted form because if you read Adam Smith, the current state of our free market economy is not what he was espousing.

Add to this self doubt about the purpose of living in this heavily consumerised society a nasty divorce, and you have a recipe for what some might call a mid-life crisis.

I hate that word because for most it conjures thoughts of balding overweight men in shiny Corvettes or Jaguars with young attractive trophy girlfriends. Well, that just ain’t my mid-life crisis.

Mine was more a re-examining of my purpose in this world and less a last ditch grasp for imagined youthful glory days.

My marriage had ended and this totally shocked me out of that “normal” stupor. You see, divorce was never even imagined by me. Call me naive in today’s world but that is true. It was not my normal to consider divorce. I am basically the first member of my extended family (right out to cousins) to be divorced. So to say it came as a surprise is an understatement. I realize others saw it coming but I’m here to tell you, I did not. I was always the “work-through-the-shit” guy. Not the “cut-and-run” guy.

With that shock, the corporate job had to go next. I had not been happy working the typical wage slave, suit-and-tie life for some time, but I did it because again, it was expected and it paid me an above average salary with which to support my family.

I dumped it and after a bit ended up working retail after almost 25 years in mid to upper management. It was a job. It paid the bills. I did not have to think about anything once I clocked out. I did not have to do anything above and beyond the job I was paid to do for the hours I was paid to work. And I didn’t have to deal with the bullshit of corporate politics or the inflated egos of spoiled rich kid CEOs and Presidents for whom I had no respect whatsoever.

And here is the problem. That working poor lifestyle, while according me the ethical and mental freedom from corporate life, didn’t provide enough remuneration to have any kind of real life in Canada. It was paycheque to paycheque and I came to realize that this is, in fact, how the majority of people live. Every dollar went to food, lodging, heat and lights. That’s it. Actually without child support payments from my ex-wife, I wouldn’t have even been able to afford basic cable or internet for the kids. And I didn’t even have a car. That was way beyond my new financial means.

That’s not what I want for my kids.

If they want to become lawyers or marketing managers or whatever so be it but I didn’t want them to walk down that path simply because it was the only path presented to them. I want them to know there are other “normals” and they are free to chose whatever path they want regardless of what society tells them they should be doing.

And then something occurred to me. My kids were actually an example for me. You see, my ex and I are not Christian. I haven’t considered myself Xtian since before high school while my ex, I believe, abandoned any pretence shortly after her first university degree.

I explored various faiths over the years and for a long time considered myself pagan. I am now completely comfortable with being an atheist. I no longer feel the need for “faith” to find meaning in my life or the world in general.

The reason I bring this up is because my kids were both raised without religion. They were exposed to many: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. I tried to ensure they understood the basic tenets of all faiths and always told they they were free to believe or not believe whatever felt right to them.

This upbringing brought about some interesting side effects and made me reflect more on my own upbringing. Like why, as an atheist, can I recite the Lord’s Prayer without thinking? I still remember the time my daughter Isabelle asked me what the last supper was. Or the time my daughter Mhairi asked me “who’s Noah?”.

What was normal to me, indoctrinated since early childhood, was foreign to them.

That was my answer.

By consciously choosing not to raise them with mindless adherence to a faith, I had found the method by which I could help them realize that they didn’t have to be trapped in a life that was not their own. If I wanted them to grow and be whatever they wanted to be, I had to live that life myself. I had to be an example and the example I’d set thus far was the exact opposite of what I wanted for them.

And that is the point. I want to live a life that is an example to my children. I want them not to stumble blindly through life doing what is expected of them rather than what makes them fulfilled and better people.

And so that all led to this. To me quitting my subsistence job, to cancelling the lease on my apartment; to selling 98% of my worldly possessions and to leaving the security and comfort of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Being apart from my kids (and now my girlfriend) is hard. Very hard. But I can’t just succumb to the strong urge to abandon this plan. I need to stay true to the reason for this in the first place. I cannot allow fear to be my guide any longer.

To explore just what it is to live life. To experience other cultures; other ways of seeing the world; other beliefs. To find my own normal and in so doing showing my children that they too can undertake their own quests for bliss.

I am tethered to Moncton and will return as often as I’m able for extended visits and my ex has graciously agreed to a custody arrangement that will allow both my kids to spend extended periods of time with me in another country or on the road. The love life… haven’t figured out how that will manifest itself yet but she and I are both very happy and very willing to explore how this will evolve (see visits home and on the road above).

So while being apart from my children and girlfriend is painful, my purpose keeps me going for now.

How long “for now” is is anyone’s guess. Like I said at the beginning. Why do I need to have a goal? I’m on a quest for something. Don’t know what that is yet but I’ll know it when I see it. That could be 6 months or 6 years from now.

Maybe its an apartment in Iquitos, Peru. Maybe its an ashram in Kerala, India. Maybe its a 2 bedroom bungalow back in ‘ol NB.

I’ll know it when I see it.

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On the road…

Well that’s it. As I write I’m at a departure gate at George Bush International Airport in Houston. By tonight I’ll be in an apartment in Cancun, Mexico.

This is real now. New path. New outlook. New life.

Hardest part by far was saying goodbye to my kids. Isabelle last night was one thing but saying goodbye to Mhairi at the airport was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Not sure how long it will take to get used to not having her with me all the time. I cant imagine ever being used to it at this point. Isabelle is an adult now and starting her own adventure so that was going to happen regardless of the travel and since we knew that day would come for years, the adjustment isn’t as hard to handle. I wish Mhairi could come on this journey with me now instead of later. Xmas can’t come soon enough!

The travel so far has been typical air travel. Changing gates, lugging bags through customs. The usual fun. No issues to report yet except a slight glitch with my debit card.

On another front… leave it to me to get romantically involved with someone two weeks before I emigrate after not dating for nearly 2 years. Wow! Never saw that coming at all but I’m sure glad it happened. She didn’t expect it either I guess. This should be interesting to see where/how it progresses with me on the road. We both seem to want to try so I guess time will tell. I’m game.

Whadyagonnado?

With any luck maybe she can come down to Guatemala or even the Yucatan at Xmas with the kids. (Hint, hint)

Wow, would that be an awesome Xmas!!

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Background

Major milestone accomplished

Over this past few days I’ve witnessed my eldest daughter attend her Prom, watched her accept her High School diploma (with a 93% average I must add), and as I type, we’re prepare for her grad party.  How I managed to raise two intelligent, thoughtful, beautiful and generally incredible daughters still amazes me but, I did and I’m incredibly thankful and proud of the people they have become.

Prom Photo

The author and his two girls, Isabelle and Mhairi

So, the milestone of my eldest essentially finishing her childhood and moving into adult life is now behind me.  I have one more daughter who is also developing into an incredible young woman and I look forward to continuing to guide her into her adult life as a woman who questions authority, doesn’t accept statements on face value without doing her own research into the facts and who cares about social justice and doing the right thing regardless of the any negative consequences.

But, its time for me to hit the road now.  I need to do this for myself; for my own sanity; and to find meaning in my own life.  But its not just about me.  I’m taking this path for my kids too.  Some may feel I’m “abandoning” my children by going on this extended journey but nothing could be further from the truth.

I define myself first as a father and secondly by what I may or may not do for a living, what hobbies I might have or what groups I may belong to.  Always have.  I have always been the more “maternal” parent to my kids and that won’t change simply because I’m on the road.  To me, this trip is just as important in my parenting of these two girls as changing their diapers or helping them get over the heart break of their first crush.

Yes, this trip is for me to explore new cultures and define my own “normal” but it is just as important to me that, in doing this, I am trying to show my children that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and however they want.

I’ve received two basic reaction when people here about the new path I’m following.  they are either incredibly supportive and jealous of me for doing this or, they think I’m batshit crazy and/or a bad person for abandoning my “supposed” good life here in Moncton.

To me though, and this is the point I hope my children learn earlier in their adulthood than later… white picket fences, 2 cars in the driveway, Calvin Klein underwear, matching dinnerware, scented candles, working 50 hour weeks to earn money for more crap you don’t need, or worse, taking out bank loans for things like vacations… THAT’S batshit crazy..

So, to my children, before you get “trapped” in a “normal” North American life… “throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.”

2 days to go and I board that plane to the rest of my life.

I will miss my children horribly but thankfully Facetime and Skype mean seeing and talking with them is just a mouse click away.  That’s the beauty of Flashpacking.  Technology makes this lifestyle achievable.  Plus my children will both spends weeks if not months with me in various foreign countries each year.

That is the gift I hope to give my children.

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Crunch time is here!

Solitary key

Solitary key

Sorry folks but the big push is on getting ready to go walkabout and I haven’t had nearly the time I had hoped to update the blog with all the preparations.

That said, I’ll post my pre-trip prep once I hit the road.  Close to 18 hours on planes and in airports should give me the free time I need to get this thing launched.

The good news is… I’m down to one single solitary key.  At one point in my life I’m sure I had 5 pounds worth of metal keys jangling in my pockets.  Now I have one; and as of June 23rd, when I officially move out of my apartment, I will have none.  In one way, that terrifies me and yet in another its exhilarating.

Once I depart Canada, it’s my goal to write a daily blog to keep everyone up-to-date- on my travels, share experiences, good travel deals and other tips.  I am also working on the launch of my commercial travel blog network.  Stay tuned for that launch sometime in July.  If any of my traveling friends are interested in submitting travel articles, reviews of gear, tech tours, hostels, hotels, etc., then please drop me an email at scott@blindsalamander.net.

12 days to go until I emigrate!

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Background

And so it begins…

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So, upon making the life altering decision to quit my job, give up my apartment, sell all of my worldly possessions and travel for the foreseeable future, I needed to make some pretty big decisions on how to actually accomplish this.

Over the next few blog entries, I’ll try to cover the myriad questions that require answering and decisions that need to be made when making such a monumental change in lifestyle.

These will include:

  • How I plan earn an income to support this new location independence.
  • Legal and tax implications of essentially being homeless on a world stage.
  • Stuff. What to do with all your stuff.
  • Stuff. What stuff do you need on the road?
  • Medical and security issues.
  • Parenting from afar.
  • Where? When? How?
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