The Autobots wage the battle...
Will I be on the streets tomorrow...

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you...

What would it take for you to completely uproot your life and try something totally different? To leave the comfort and relative security of your suburban or city life and, say, move to Africa? To find yourself by getting lost?

I read an article recently, I think in Outside magazine, about somebody who did just that. He and his wife left their lives in the United States. Sold most of their possessions and their home, quit their jobs, and moved to Africa. It wasn't some haphazard decision made by a couple people who just thought it might be a cool idea. It was actually several years in the making. They debated the idea for a while, came up with pros and cons, talked to friends and family, and then finally decided to, in the words of Nike, just do it.

So, they tied up their loose ends, paid off outstanding bills, renewed their passports, and said goodbye.

Now they're living in Kenya. Both are spending a vast majority of their time living amongst the native people in small villages getting a feel for what a more simplistic lifestyle is like. Trying to escape and become this generation's Allie Fox. But, seeing as how they are leaving family behind, they will be making occasional jaunts into local cities for the purpose of communication and, perhaps, research. Otherwise, they intend to wholly distance themselves from the lives they've come to know.

Of course, it will never be the same for them as it is for those who live the life everyday. They realize this. They will be viewed as outsiders and will always be treated as such. But they are doing what they can to experience the life and to, ideally, help in whatever way they can. They are not part of some religious mission or an organized aid group of any kind. Just two people. Doing what they believe is their calling. Finding themselves by losing themselves.

And I envy them this decision.

I'm not trying to say that I'm unhappy with my life. Quite the opposite, in fact. I love my life and my wife. But I wonder what kind of personal wherewithall it would take to do something like this and whether or not I could do it. I somehow doubt it. But it's a romantic thought all the same.

Comments

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Bec

I dream about this kind of thing a lot - just leaving everything and everyone I know... and starting again... And it always comes down to the same thing - no matter how simple you want your life to become it still takes a great deal of money to do it. Mind you, most of my dreams and about crossing the Atlantic and settling, you know, there...

I'm feeling restless at the moment and am wanting to do something to change how I am feeling.

And you've just reminded me - passport. Must renew it!

Geeky Tai-Tai

The leap of faith to leave one's comfort zone is not really so difficult. At 24 my husband and I left the "comfort zone" of a small town of 4000 people to move to Chicago so he could pursue a dream of working for a major electronics company. 4 years later we were in California pursuing another opportunity. 4 years later we were in Tennessee pursuing a desire to return to the Midwest to be closer to our families. 9 years later we were in New York, same company, different opportunity. 2 years later we were in Atlanta, same company, different pursuit. Now we are in Singapore and have just completed our 3rd year here. What was the driving force for this level of movement one might ask? The small voice inside our collective heads that said that we should never say "What if? We decided long ago that we would always be able to say if we don't like this we can move back or do something else. We just never wanted to become trapped in a "what if" life. Has it been easy? No. Has it been challenging? Yes. Are we better people for it? Damn right....! Our 2 kids will attest to both the difficulty and the reward. So, don't just dream... You're young, have no children to consider (that is, a junior in high school and eighth-grader)the world is a lot smaller than you might think. It just takes a while to get to the other side. Don't be like so many people and live a life of "what if?"

kilax

Sometimes we all just want to get away...

sizzle

i think to hear your own calling and follow it is the most authentic and wonderful way to live. it's awesome that they had a similar calling and could venture there together. not everyone has the same calling, thank goodness, that way we all can make the world better just by being us in our own corner of the world.

August

I don't think I would ever want to move to Africa or some third world country. I agree, we are too materialistic here in the States (I sorta wrote on the subject today, actually). Back when I was single and spending a week in Cozumel, I did think about just picking up and moving to an island and living the simple island life though. That would be more my speed.

I love OUTSIDE magazine for those kind of articles though. They really do get you thinking outside your everyday hum-drum box.

Karl

I don't think I could move to Africa. Do they have Tivo?

Everybody has thoughts about dropping everything and starting some wildly different life. I think it's natural. Takes a lot of courage to do it, I think. I don't know that I have that sort of courage.

Hilly

While I'm just not cool enough to go live in Africa and help others with constant charitable relief, I totally WOULD pack up and move somewhere else in a heartbeat. No, I don't mean like Portland or anything, but another country far far away. I'd like to move to the Italian countryside and just breathe it all in, taking life more slowly and finding myself or some horseshit like that.

Kyra

I have a friend who got divorced at the end of last year. After a couple months of thinking it over, she quit her job and moved to St. Thomas. She found a job there and has lived there since. Now she is looking at moving back home. She says it has given her a lot of perspective and helped her see how much she truly is in control of everything.

I could easily live overseas. I have been to several places, and I know I would enjoy it. Would I miss the US? Yeah, I probably would. But there are benefits and losses to every place. I don't think I would enjoy moving to Africa, but there are lots of others I would be interested in. But to drop everything and basically go on a mission to help others? I don't think I can dedcicate my life to that. I'm not a good enough person for that, though I know of many who are.

diane

A good friend of mine saw her boyfriend off to Guatamala for three months. For the fourth month, she went and stayed with him. While there, he was doing volunteer work, and they spent the last month vacationing. Now they are moving in together.
Her conclusion? Next time you are having problems with your significant other, send him or her off to another country.
Uh, I am reluctant to take her up on that suggestion myself. ;)

Foo

A childhood friend and her husband picked up and moved to Costa Rica. They were the white picket fence type...and wow, what a difference it has made with their lives. I feel boring when I'm around them, but it also reminds me that everyone is different and that I'm sure there are times where my life seems great to them.

I would love to live in another country, but feel that I need to be around my family. It's my choice, not a feeling of obligation, I love them and don't want to miss out on growing old with them.

kapgar

Bec, we have to renew ours as well.

Geeky, wow, that's pretty cool. Although I'm not sure I'm the type who wants to move around that much.

kilax, I hear ya.

sizzle, I really like your last sentence.

August, it's a great magazine.

Karl, maybe South Africa has TiVo. Anything's possible.

Hilly, if you left for the Italian countryside, you'd have to deal with Katie and me tagging along.

Kyra, I wonder if I'm that good a person either.

diane, interesting way to deal with it. ;-)

Foo, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Just doing a complete 180 with your life. Family is what would make it tough for us as well.

The Exception

Traveling to and living in another country and culture are challenging. I did this in Eastern Europe. I would like to do it again, at some point, to expose my daughter to the world. DC is filled with diversity, but nothing beats learning to appreciate another culture and different perspective than living in it or experiencing it first hand.

That said, I can't imagine going to Africa, though I know a couple who did as the article describes with their two kids. It has not been easy. Even though they are now a functioning part of society, their experience is not truly complete because they can leave.

sue

I used to have thoughts of that... then I was diagnosed with really bad PMS and got some medication for it. Now I'm quite content where I am in life.

Trust me, this is a much longer story. :)

Bre

It is romantic certainly, but I'd miss all that I have too much. If I could take everyone with me ... well... then sign me up!

Dagny

Africa sounds cool to me, especially after reading the latest issue of Vanity Fair. I wouldn't miss my family much. Most of them live 3000 miles away as it is.

kapgar

Exception, hence why I said they never will truly fit in. You do have that out and I guess while that does take some of the daring out of it, you might feel better about the decision.

sue, I can't exactly blame PMS, though.

Bre, that gets awful expensive.

Dagny, is that the issue edited by Bono? I saw a poster for it in Barnes & Noble. Worth the money?

SJ

I was lucky being a military brat - I got the chance to live in and visit other countries while growing up (including Africa for three years). Now, I have NO desire to live anywhere except San Diego, California, USA.

And sometimes, the "selling everything to move to a whole new place" turns out to be the WORST idea you ever had (talking about our Georgia fiasco).

kapgar

A very good point indeed.

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