The crisp fall air teases my hair and the city sprawls far below, bumping both sides of the valley. Daughters run up and down the path and take turns climbing the bars. Somewhere across the park, both boys are up a tree and out of sight.
It is beautiful.
We’d met Jess Curren and her family only minutes before at this suburban park, but had followed each other’s lives for quite a while on social media.
Jess and her family are unique, even a bit rebellious in terms of societal norms. Years ago they sold their house and most of their belongings, bought an airstream, and hit the open road, permanently. It started with a simple home swap with another “stranger” across the country and turned into a change of lifestyle. As she said, “We sort of just fell into it.”
If you know our family well, you know we don’t live permanently on the road or even own an Airstream. (Oh, I wish we did though!) Yet I find we have more in common than I originally expected.
We both lament the busyness of living in a big city or in suburbia. We share how our families, each in their own ways, have chosen to live cheap so we can leave often and escape to the mountains, the open road, the trail, the water, or the slopes.
We comment on how friends and strangers alike ask us, “how do you have the time and money to do all that you do?” They often ask while lamenting that they can’t live the same way.
But they can live differently.
If they really want to. And so can you.
Early in our marriage my folks shared this one piece of advise about viewing other couples around us:
If it seems to good to be true, then you just don’t know the whole story.
And so it is for us. And so it is for the Curren Family. We are blessed in all sorts of amazing ways but the freedom to live on a “permanent vacation” as some may call it or travel so often comes with having to say “no” to other things.
Yes, our kids hike, ski, climb, backpack, and explore year-round. They see many places in this world that most will not.
But while we are spending months in Lake Tahoe or the Currens are camping for Christmas in Florida, we are not attending fall soccer games, little league, or swim team. Our kids are not in Cub Scouts, dance class or art class.
We say “no” to many of the normal American things, in order to be able to do what we do.
I am amazed by the social pressures (real or imagined) to give our kids a happy and well-rounded AMERICAN childhood. Even inside my own head, I am wondering if maybe we should give up our weekend adventures for soccer games or if my kids will resent me later in life because they never took ballet.
It is indeed hard, maybe impossible to “keep up with the Jones’…”
But do we really even want to keep up with them?!
“We shouldn’t fear that a simpler life is an impoverished life.” – Yvonne Chouinard
Jess has learned this on the road:
“Slowing down and living a simpler life has completely changed our family. I went from a mom who would rather ship my kids off to school so I could “get things done” to one who can’t sleep soundly unless I can hear them breathing while they sleep.
I love that almost all of our time is spent together as a family rather than my husband and I playing taxi running our kids to various activities. There are so many good things that kids (and even parents!) can be involved in, but really what your kids want is YOU. They want to spend time with their parents.
Traveling to many beautiful locations is just a bonus! We are able to explore, mountain bike, hike, and backpack all over the country and doing HARD things as a family has brought us even closer together!! I love the sense of accomplishment we all feel, how we love and trust one another, and have confidence in ourselves.”
Even as I sit here sipping my coffee and writing to you, I fully admit to myself that this post is as much for me [maybe more] as it is for you. Moving into a new house, selling an old house, and daily life has been anything but simple recently.
I need to remember that simpler is better.
I need to remember that running my kids around town all week to every sport under the sun isn’t how we HAVE to do it. I need to remember that we cannot do it all and that most of all my kids want us.
Not a list of things to do. Not a resume of accomplishments, but real relationship.
Not everyone can live in an Airstream. Even now, as we’d love the lifestyle, we realize that the demands of work limit our ability to hit the open road. So we opt for long vacations rather than permanent travel. We opt for weekend getaways and mid-week micro adventures.
And that is ok, more than ok. It is awesome.
Maybe soccer is your family passion. Maybe you hate camping. This isn’t the point.
Not just falling into a pattern of living based on what others are doing. Not living a busy life but finding simple in whatever season you are in.