The first question people ask is “Will your jobs be there when you get back?” The short answer is: probably, but we’re not making any commitments.
For the first time in my adult life, I don’t know how to assign probabilities to outcomes. There’s so much we don’t know about this trip and the impact it will have on our lives. We’re treating it as a sabbatical — an opportunity to get away from what is comfortable, from what we know, to create space for the discovery of passions and professions not yet considered.
We know there is risk. The economy is shaky. National unemployment is at 9%. We are fortunate to be in two industries, internet technology and healthcare, with a shortage of qualified workers. I’m especially fortunate that I can practice my occupation from anywhere with an internet connection.
Of this we are reasonably certain: we will fly into Barcelona on Jan 5 and leave Western Europe on April 4. Though I can’t yet estimate the probabilities of what comes after that, these possibilities come to mind:
We come back to the states
Money runs out. Someone gets sick. We (unintentionally) get pregnant. We realize we prefer sleeping in our own bed.
We move back to Chicago and go back to our old jobs. Our employers have been incredibly gracious, saying that, while they’re not going to wait for us, there is likely a spot for us if we want to return. Josh, the owner of Table XI, told me “if I could do what you’re doing, I would.”
We move back to Chicago, but pursue different lines of work. If we don’t switch industries, it’s hard to imagine not going back to our current jobs – they are about as good as a “9-5” can get. However, it’s possible that we’ll discover new interests that lead us down different professional paths.
We come back to the states, but not to Chicago. We love Chicago — before I met Rachel I used to say that there is no person, place, or thing of this world for which I have more affection than this city. However, we may decide that we like nature more than city life, or simply desire a change of pace, knowing that Chicago will always be here. Portland and Austin come to mind.
We continue our travels
Money holds out. We like traveling, like traveling with each other, and decide to keep the show on the road.
We head to Southeast Asia to check out Thailand and Vietnam. We’ve heard there is great food, beautiful scenery, and minimal cost of living.
We head to Eastern Europe, which is not subject to Schengen visa restrictions. We’re intrigued by cities like Prague and Budapest, and while not as cheap as Asia, the dollar goes much further than in Western Europe.
We no longer feel as if our life is a train traveling down fixed tracks. We’ll cross bridges when we come to them, try to make the best decisions we can with the information available at the time, and lean on God to give us direction day by day, trusting that he’s got a better outcome for us than any we can dream up on our own.