Fantasy Trip: Go or No Go?

Posted on: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Blog | 2 comments


Over the past 2 weeks, “Yoder & Sons,” a column by a WSJournalist and his boys, has been pondering whether Father & 14-year-old Levi should get “crazy” and take a 6-month fantasy trip.  Most readers say “Go!”  So does this father—and his son—and I submit this photo as evidence enough. 

My son, you see, loves to fish.  So imagine his ecstasy when we were strolling seaside on the island of Grenada and a bunch of brawny fishermen demanded that he scramble down the breakfront and help them haul in the nets.  He likes school too.  But this stuff just don’t happen—not even in World Cultures class. (Here’s his version of the story, on his blog.)

In this case, Steve & Levi Yoder are kicking around the idea of a tour studying the history of Western Civilization, paleontology and things.  That’s a bit more ambitious than fishing during our island-hopping adventure last year.  Still, the same thing will happen.  Total strangers will surprise them and, metaphorically, time and time again, snag them in a unimaginable net. 

Those pictures will be worth 1,000 days in school.  As one woman with some serious Sabbatical experience wrote,

These journeys cannot be compared to a week here, two weeks there.  They are life-changing, relationship-building, memory-sharing, character-challenging adventures.” 

After two BreakAways with my children (and two without), I can only emphatically, wholeheartedly agree.

  • BUT:  Some Say Stay Home.

Of course, not everyone encourages the Yoders to chase their dream.  One glum soul called Steve’s “dangerous odyssey” “outrageous,” and stated,

Your wife should have you declared incompetent.” 

Ouch!  I guess that makes a lot of us hopeless.  But don’t ask this inept dad:  Ask my children.  They seem to love love where their parents “incompetence” takes them. 

  • Will Yoders Go?

So far, Steve’s being poker-face Yoder.  But I bet they’ll get their getaway.  He’s playing the Deathbed card, after all: 

On my deathbed, will I be glad I was prudent — saved money, paid the mortgage — or will I have a twinge of regret that I didn’t take my last remaining teenager on a quixotic odyssey?”

You’ve got a great job, Mr. Yoder.  One of the best.  Many of us are jealous.  But while some of us may not have your career success, we somehow manage a journey with a son around the world.   Homeschool two kids through the Caribbean.   Take one whole year off before the offspring arrive.  And never, ever regret those choices. 

We even pay the mortgage and keep the pantry full.  Somehow. 

  • Go!  Go!  Go! 

So I’ll join the cheerleading chorus and assert that this is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime alignment for Dad and Son to see the world, experience history, and bond nonstop.  And as for Mr. Yoder’s career, methinks this trip would only increase his knowledge, perspective and occupational capital. 

About son Levi:  Don’t wait too long, Dad.  The boy in that fishing picture is already many pounds and inches older.  His voice has changed.  Peachfuzz is emerging. 

If it’s difficult to escape now, it’ll only become moreso.  You’ve already seen one son grow up fast and disappear to college.   Now’s your chance to stop time and haul in some nets together.

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2 Responses to “Fantasy Trip: Go or No Go?”

  1. barbara pagano Says:

    I’m somewhat conflicted about the 16-year-old just plucked from the Indian Ocean. Her dream of sailing around the world dashed when 30 ft. waves broke her mast. The parents are taking a beating from some people for letting her go.

    My conflict: Who’s to say and really know when dreams are to be lived?

    While my daughter and I were older than this young woman (30 and 55), we had about an eighth of her sailing experience and knowledge yet we set out “to see how far we could go.” (We pushed a 43-foot-sailboat through the wind and water over 2000 miles – learning everyday and making lots of mistakes.)
    We had people say we shouldn’t go. “We weren’t ready,” they shouted.

    If we were going to wait until we were ready, we’d both tell you that we’d still be at the dock.

    We actually tell people to “go before you are ready.”

    Is there a line to draw in the sand here, Kirk?

  2. kirk Says:

    That’s great advice, Barbara: “Go before you’re ready.” Perhaps those words to countless conundrums that confront us in life–leaving a job or relationship, taking a Sabbatical or generally making a smart change. I mean, is one ever fully “ready–or is there a perfect time–for anything? Living is leaping, at least when the situation or spirit moves you. In your case, you leapt on that boat despite worries and warnings and it changed your life.

    That said, this parent would probably not bless my 16-year-old to take that voyage. But she’s not my kid, so this time, I get off easy.

    I wish the media would pay more attention to the good people who are taking more suitable leaps to change themselves and the world–and less attention to the extreme examples like the daring young sailor.

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