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February 11, 2014

A virtuous life doesn’t reward you with travel

Hiking New Zealand

“A virtuous life doesn’t reward you with travel.” — Rolf Potts

I had the pleasure of connecting with Rolf in person this week. I’ve written on his blog since 2012 and we’ve passed a few notes back and forth as we’ve shared the occasional orbit in cyber-space but there’s something different about connecting at eye level and feeling someone’s presence and intention. I spent the evening studying the man behind the author bio and really listening as he shared his vagabonding life, his passions for education and writing with a roomful of students. I learned a lot. Woven into stories of bagpipes in Cuba and the ethical dilemma of tribal photography in remote corners of Africa was an underlying message that he summed up in one line that stopped the universe spinning for a moment. I’m not sure anyone else noticed it, but I did, and it reminded me of the urgency of pursuing our dreams:

A virtuous life doesn’t reward you with travel.

Doing all of the “right things,” doesn’t guarantee a damned thing. Pinning all of your hopes on your “golden years” is worse than a crap shoot. Travel is not some gold medal that will be draped around your neck as a prize for a race well run. It’s not something you earn by playing someone else’s organized game. Travel is a building block of a greater life. Travel can be a life in and of itself. If it’s seen as an optional bonus round of life it’s unlikely to happen, or at least not in the way you’re dreaming of now.

A virtuous life doesn’t reward you with travel.

You want to travel? Go. Go now. Create your life to include travel. Build your life around your dream of travel. It’s a very simple mental shift, a change of paradigm and priority structure. You can travel sooner rather than later. If it is in your heart, then you must work to make it a reality and not put it off until some elusive “one day.”

Posted by | Comments (7) 
Category: Lifestyle Design, Vagabonding Advice

7 Responses to “A virtuous life doesn’t reward you with travel”

  1. Roger Says:

    This is so true. So true. I’m a firm believer that you just have to go, or it never will happen.

  2. Stephen Says:

    This is a really lovely thought. Good on your for catching it, and it definitely makes me think those Paris courses would be a cool experience!

  3. DEK Says:

    The longer you lead a virtuous life the more likely you are to take on responsibilities, both voluntary ones like children and involuntary ones like parents or a spouse who become unexpectedly dependent, to say nothing of the vagaries of your own life. The only time you can count on to be able to travel is when you are young, when you have no spouse or children and your parents are healthy and economically independent.

    When is “young”? Sometime after high school. College has become a difficult call, but a hefty student loan debt is almost certain to restrict your travel.

    When you go later in life, it is a different kind of travel. Neither better nor worse: just different.

  4. Rolf Potts Says:

    Nice to meet you last week, Jenn! I love the way you rephrase things: “Travel is not something you earn by playing someone else’s organized game. Travel is a building block of a greater life.”

    Part of the reason I wrote Vagabonding is that I grew up watching so many impressive (and yes, virtuous) adults put off their real dreams and passions until retirement, only to realize that they had been way better equipped to actualize those dreams decades earlier. It’s what Thoreau called “spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it” — and too many good folks fall into that cycle. (Not that I haven’t met some amazing retirees on the vagabonding trail — but even they will concur that there’s no sense in waiting that long if you have the dream now.)

  5. Jennifer Steck Says:

    The early death of my brother in law at age 50 caused me to re-evaluate my life and how I kept putting things off until the magical day of my retirement. There are no guarantees so the time to live your dreams is now. Since John died, I’ve been to South Africa, Botswana, Argentina, Antarctica and most recently to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears. Namibia is next on the list. Travel has made my life so much richer. I’m now about five years away from retirement and am looking forward to all the adventures that I can continue to take.

  6. Jennifer Miller Says:

    So glad this resonates with somebody besides me!

    Stephen… by all measures, those Paris courses ARE infinitely worth it… you should go, NOW, this year!!

    Dek… travel does change with life and responsibility… youth is not the only time it’s worthwhile, but none of us is promised tomorrow and we’re fools if we put off our dreams for that elusive “someday.”

    Rolf… it was nice to meet you. Looking forward to working with you for many years to come… and I’m sorry about the lack of coffee! ;)

    Jennifer… such a sad way to come to a point of re-evaluation, but I’m so glad that you’re moving forward… I”m sure your brother would be proud!

  7. Oliver Says:

    Wowsers, quite an impressive imaginary slap into the face, right!? But in a positive way I mean! Our life or even our very self is probably “reward” enough when travelling. Travel shapes person(alitie)s in a tremendous way and everyone should listen to that inner voice. In some cases it’s calling forth, in some others it’s screaming for roots. No matter which way, we should “dare to be happy” and “now” is always a good time to start… :)

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