This is something the 99% will tell you isn’t possible, it’s not feasible. If you try to tell them otherwise, they’ll shake their heads exasperatingly.
“When you live in the real world, you’ll understand,” they insist.
“When are you and Dan going to grow up?” they ask.
“When is all this going to end?” parental units inquire
“What about socialization?” the unenlightened will prod.
“Are you done having kids?” family seeths.
Our response is and always has been the same. We enthusiastically explain that happiness is not our goal, it is our way of life. We flat out deny the “real world” from ever infiltrating our lives. People have thought we were crazy from the get-go. Dan and I were married uber young, Kerry was born when I was 20 and we were well below the poverty level, believe me — Dan was barely making a double digit salary and I was a stay-at-home mom. Most people we knew, if not all, were certain we’d never see our first anniversary. We gave people a lot of reasons to gossip, that’s for sure. We kept having babies, we took giant leaps of faith without really thinking, Dan quit his stable job and started a consulting business, we up and moved across the country in a 30 day span, we bought a house we really couldn’t afford, we were living a dream life and to our family and friends, we were crazy immature! And when we finally made that proverbial leap and decided to homeschool, in most people’s minds, we lost the last bit of what kept us semi-normal. We were lost, no way to get into our kids heads, our heads, we were gone!
What has always puzzled me about the way the 99% live is that they are content to be unhappy, at least that’s the impression when you read people’s facebook pages! But that’s the “real world” guys. That’s following the road fully travelled, the road everyone ventures down, it’s tried and true. You know where it leads and what you’re getting.
The real world consists of 40/hr work weeks, day care, educational systems, political bureacracy, peer pressure, shuffling the kids in all different directions, stress, anxiety — in a phrase — the ultimate breakdown of the family. As young kids we are told our path. Go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have a child or two, work some more, take a vacation once per year, retire and maybe, if you’re lucky, you might have a few free years to enjoy your life. No wonder they are miserable!
Our society has somehow bought into the idea that every person must go to college if they are to be successful. At Freshman orientation students are told, college graduates, on average, make 1 million dollars more than those who don’t. What they fail to tell you is those kids would probably make 1 million more anyway. They are the hard workers, the good students, the driven kids with goals and ambitions. What they also fail to tell you is that life isn’t about how much money you make, or about how big your house is, or how nice your car is, or how many Easter Dresses your daughter had, or how many cloth diapers you can buy, or dressing “to the nines” or any of the other myriad of lies we are fed. Life is about love and family and relationships and personal growth and God!
We’ve always told our kids, when the subject arises, that we think college is a waste of time and money. I’m a college graduate, the proud owner of an English and Poli Sci Major. I wasted $40,000 of my own money that could have been used to start my own business or travel or something other than earn two completely worthless degrees. Dan’s a self made man. He learned everything he knows himself. Spent money on books, not on college. Unless you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, a professional, you don’t need to spend what now equates to $100,000 on an education that will nine times out of ten lead to more education and more education. Life is the best education, living outside the box is THE BEST education you can ever give yourself.
We’ve done pretty well for ourselves, really, when you look at our life as an entire story. Together, we’re raising 11 of the most diverse, amazing, talented, kind, smart, generous, loving, children ever. They understand the meaning of life, their goals don’t consist of all things monetary. Their goals are more simple. They actually enjoy and want to spend time with their siblings and their parents and they want to kayak … every day. In fact, we spend every waking breathing minute together. We are each others best friends, confidants, teachers, and cheerleaders. We are fully dependent on each other for everything, we answer to no-one but each other. Our youngest kids will never spend one minute in a formal classroom … the world is their classroom! Our kids have discovered the art of making videos and they rock at it. Grady has 1 video with 2 MILLION views, many in the hundreds of thousands. They are really really good at this. Grady has an eye for directing, Kerry’s an amazing actress, Brody is funny and loveable … they are discovering their talents long before any of their peers.
Our days are spent looking for the next adrenaline rush and typically it’s found in the river, in a kayak, on a wave. We aren’t spectators in our children’s lives, we are participants. We experience the same challenges, the same fears, the same emotions, the same exhilaration and we experience it together. We push each other and challenge each other in everyday life to be better people, stronger people. We rely on each other in the water as on land. I’ve been rescued a number of times by Dan, Grady and Brody. I can’t wait for the day when Kady, Kenny & Dally and the rest of the gang rescue me too!! In the water the dynamics are different. I’m the liability! On land I’m competant, but in the water, I rely on my kids — it’s bizarre and amazing! I couldn’t ask for a better life, better husband, better kids!
And now, God has blessed us with the realization of a dream! In the last few days we finalized the last piece of the puzzle in our quest to become nomads, travelling gypsies. We purchased an RV! It’s our first big purchase since buying our house in 2001. It’s something we’ve been dreaming about for years and finally all the stars aligned and made it possible. It’s huge, a 36′ Georgie Boy, Diesel Pusher and big enough to cart our rather large family from one river to another. We’ll be nomads this summer, just travelling from one kayaking spot to the next. It will be an unbelievable summer filled with family bonding, and extreme fun! Who knows, maybe it’s the beginning of something life altering? The thing about the road untravelled is that you don’t know where it’s going to take you, it’s exciting and new every single day. Sure, there are lots of bumps along the way, probably, possibly bigger bumps than those encountered by the droves of people on the other paths, but those bumps define you, they make you who you are. Personally, I don’t want the cake if I can’t eat it, and you shouldn’t settle for any less either!
“Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.” ~St. Augustine