I wanted to take a picture of the moment we decided where we are going when we leave it all and start our lives over this summer. But things don’t always work out how you planned, especially when it comes to big new life adventures forward. I’m guessing that’s a lesson I’m going to get a lot now.
Instead, at the moment we decided which far away place we will head to when we start our lives over on Memorial Day, Luke was driving, and I – well, OK, I was crying. The relief that came with the decision, contained in an email from Luke’s future graduate school, was overwhelming. So instead, I took this picture when I stopped crying and Luke stopped driving.
We’re moving to Anchorage, Alaska. Why? Because plenty of people say things like “wouldn’t it be nice if we could leave it all and start over?” But few actually do it.
We are going to do it.
Luke is getting out of the Army. He has been accepted into a graduate school program near Anchorage, Alaska. We are going to sell almost everything we have, and let the Army pack and ship the rest — a final benefit of military service.
Changing everything about your life is scary. But sometimes staying in what is comfortable just because it’s easy is scarier in its own way. I never want to look back on my life and say “the only reason I didn’t take that risk was because it was too frightening.”
We are going to drive our family into the great unknown … literally. None of us have ever been to Alaska before. Until now we have led tidy little lives full of predictability, or at least the kind of predictability afforded by the U.S. military in the form of a paycheck, healthcare and the constant knowledge that deployment could be moments away.
Predictability will no longer be our housemate.
Very little about this new life forward is going to be easy. Some financial belt-synching is going to be required. I will have to become OK with living our game plan day by day, a task that is hard for a planner like myself. Our kids are going to have to adjust to a big life change, too. Based on the way misadventure has followed me through life up until this point, the whole thing is bound to be kind of funny — at least to someone else.
I see our new life adventure forward as if it were the start of a long mountain climb. We will be challenged. There will be times that we are exhausted and unnerved. The scenery and summit will be part of what makes the trek worth it.
But more than anything else, the climb is going to be about the journey — what we see, experience and learn along the way about ourselves, our world and how we all fit together in it. It will be about the journey of healing from war, unseen injuries and the pain we’ve inflicted on each other as result. That’s what this life forward thing is really all about.
We hope you’ll come along for the ride.