“You cannot explore new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” – Andre Gide
In what seems like a millennium ago, I first heard the above quote from Stacia, when she and I met back in 1999. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it again. So much of our existence and experience would not be possible without her. She is smart, kind, patient, thoughtful and lovely to look at. A true vagabond and intrepid traveler, with the chops, organization, patience, good nature, sense of humor, and persistence to not only attempt, let alone master, an epic one year, 3 adult, 3 child undertaking. It involves army scale logistics, school structuring and records, medicine, doctors, shots, passports, visas, all the while keeping kids and husband happy, and miraculously seeing around corners and anticipating the unknowable (more on that later), all whilst performing inside her own mind, chained in her own self-imposed perfectionist’s jail.
Stacia, You are a dream. And not a day goes by that neither me nor the kids are confused about the engine that makes, no allows, this ship to set sail and journey as smoothly and rightly as it does. We are eternally grateful.
Thank you, my love.
As we sail West high over the Pacific, new oceans await. We are all a crucible of giddiness, excitement, apprehension, joy and humility. And Dear Reader, do not think for a moment that a day goes by that the good fortune which we as a family embrace, is not deeply understood and appreciated at the core of each of us. We fully expect that the ultimate proof will be on exhibit in the contributing citizens which spring up from these children and all children who we are striving to teach a better way, be they our biological, as well as the “adopted” we encounter along on our way through life. The kids are well versed in the precept that, “of those that have much, much is expected.” And there is much that needs to be done.
Our first place of orientation is Indonesia, where our tutor (more on him later) will become oriented to the kid’s levels. In advance, he gave the kids one assignment to learn about each of them. The new teacher asked them to each do a video of their choosing about “who they are”. Always interesting to learn how your kids reflect on their lives and personnas.
We as a family left the USA five years ago to move to Paris, France to learn another language, see, meet, expand, explore, challenge, be frustrated, persevere and learn. Little was easy about the experience, yet in the shared struggle, for the kids, Stacia and me, came a heightened awareness and powerful alertness, much like an Elan that is without it’s own herd, at dusk, at a new watering hole. Perhaps the best description is simply more alive.
In France, based in a global crossroads like Paris, Nicholas, Alexander and Annika were able to experience and meet and befriend people from pretty much everywhere. Being challenged to live and learn in the French language, whilst in Paris can be simultaneously fun… and humiliating. Character building, I suppose my Dad, James Sr. would call it. But the root transformation that transpired was what one broadly might define as “experiential learning.” And with ages comes the realization that there is no “dry run”, no “Mulligan” in this life.
After five years, the French tax authorities were less welcoming, and we decided to try something newer, bolder, scary, and yet wholly right for us. Determining there is likely only one window in which we could take a ‘gap year’ as a family, and continue to view and immerse ourselves in the world “experientially”, we decided to “step off the dock” and set sail one more time.
With these watch words of learning as our guide: experiential, immersive, service to others, gratitude, unifying, familial, humble, expansive and joyous, we have set off for a year to travel 360 degrees of the world. We began heading West from Paris on an around the world ticket that is so cheap as to be nearly incomprehensible. (More on that in a later post.) After family visits in the USA, we now head primarily to parts of Asia: Indonesia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan. And Africa: Ethiopia, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Kenya, Zimbabe, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, and…
The kids will be home schooled with a supreme STEM tutor in the 3 R’s, plus experiential astronomy, immersive physics, and other learning possibilities that arise. We hope to eat lake fly burgers in Uganda, document chimp interactions on Lake Victoria, visit cocoa bean farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, eat scorpions and tarantulas in Cambodia, visit robots in China, and study art and aesthetics in Japan.*
This and other craziness we discover and encounter will be documented in print and on video at our blog, WWW.SIXOFFPISTE.COM, or trip photos which tell the tale on Instagram, @SIXOFFPISTE.
Feel free to join us as voyeur whilst stowed away in our “virtual luggage”, (as with the political climate, some have requested join us in the real luggage)**. The trials, tribulations and unvarnished experiences will be there for all to see, laugh with, and laughed at!
It is with a sense of unbounded gratitude and limitless humility that we sign off…for now
May all the love, safety and good forces be with you all.
Nicholas, Alexander, Annika, Stacia and Michael
* If you have any questions, comments or wished for topics or views not covered as we progress, feel free to email us with ideas and requests.
** If there is anyone that you think might enjoy or benefit from our experiences, feel free to invite them to our perch noted above.