Friends and family ask us, “How do you do it? How do you manage to leave for a year?” Others say, “You are crazy; I would never do that!” These people usually think of the dictionary definition of a vagabond as “…a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job.” I prefer Ralph Potts’ definition in his book Vagabonding:
‘Vagabonding’ is about taking time off from your normal life — from six weeks, to four months, to two years — to discover and experience the world on your own terms.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I reflect on what Seth Godin said last year:
A modern Thanksgiving would celebrate two things: The people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference, and… the opportunity to build something bigger than ourselves, something worth contributing. The ability to make connections, to lend a hand, to invent and create.
When we departed to realize George’s dream of travel in SE Asia, I wrote every month to my friends and former students, wondering at the time if anyone would read our words. Would I make a difference if I wrote at all? I remembered Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts:
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Leaving both our homes and our careers can free us to think about our path and what we want to do with our lives. If you are considering a long vacation or a career break you might ask, “From where am I leaving and how might I find a purpose? What will the trip be like? What will happen in this new unknown world?”
A Sabbatical may allow us to step back so we might give more to our lives in the future. An academic study, Sabbatical Leave: Who Gains and How Much? conducted by researchers from the US, Israel and New Zealand, researches this question. The study concludes: “Sabbatical leave promotes well-being…the present study confirmed the beneficial effect of a respite on positive well-being.”
Maybe we cannot all take a year-long sabbatical but at least we may find a sabbatical second or moment to acknowledge our dreams and pull our lives more into focus, and become closer to making our dreams come true. Support someone else’s idea for a Gap Year, Mini-retirement, Big Trip or Sabbatical—between stages of life, after college, or after the home nest empties.
Last year passed without a National Meet Plan Go event in Los Angeles. I discovered that no one had volunteered to host the occasion. So this year, we facilitated the day, and drew an incredible panel with a sold-out crowd of over a hundred attendees. I wasn’t sure how to bring the event to fruition, but as with all such tasks, the journey began with a first step.
This Thanksgiving season I am grateful for a support team that allows me to ship early and helps to make my dreams come true. For many of us who have left “the rat race” with a sabbatical or career break, we realize that the journey is for the sake of the adventure and that we can be transformed by our travels. I hope that you will put one foot in front of the other and proceed firmly in your life to make your dreams come true. Find a tribe that understands our world, takes care of our planet and also supports its members.
I hope that this during this Thanksgiving and holiday season, you can carve time out of your schedule and not be permanently tied to your Blackberry, carpool, office or deadlines, to focus on realizing your dreams, whether they involve travel or something that only you can imagine.
For a moment, a year, or a lifetime.
Author’s Note: This post was first published on Squidoo Thanksgiving Magazine on Nov 18, 2011. I thought you would enjoy it for Thanksgiving! I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth and family. George and I have been in Thailand for the past month and fly to Kolkata, India on November 23rd. Namaste! Lisa