While many Americans have a touch of culoinquieto, few have incorporated it into their lives as enthusiastically as Veronica and David James. Hitting the road in their forties, they’ve logged more than 10,000 miles on America’s back roads and more recently have found themselves in Europe, Asia, and beyond. I recently asked them what precipitated their odyssey.
“Like most couples,” Veronica told me, “we had a big ‘now what?’ moment when our last child was ready to fly the nest. Ours came in 2008 when we were living on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. With all the kids gone, we thought it was a good time to go back up to the States and reconnect with family and friends. Our original idea was to take about a year — a victory lap of sorts. After seeing everyone, we had another ‘now what?!’ moment and decided that we liked our new lifestyle and wanted to keep traveling.”
Inevitably the discussion turned to losses and gains. “None of the things that we have given up are permanent,” David pointed out. “We can always go back to a settled life, if we choose. What we have gained is permanent though. We will always have the memories of all of the amazing places we have seen, all of the history we have learned, and the experiences of a lifetime.”
As Veronica and David’s story reminds us, when we set out in search of adventure what we really discover is ourselves. All journeys are inner journeys. The excitement of exploration lets us shed our ordinary preoccupations long enough to feel the rapture of being alive. “Travel is like love,” says author Pico Iyer, “mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”
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