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We’ve been in San Francisco now for over 5 days and haven’t even touched our bikes. While we were out riding, we’d been struggling a bit with a feeling of aimlessness and lack of purpose that has been wearing on us quite a bit. We went into the biking trip with a purposeful planlessness where we decided to start out not really knowing what we wanted to do. We even went into the Appalachian Trail with a feeling of not being sure what it was we really wanted but figured we’d come up with something meaningful while walking. All it took was a quiet apartment to ourselves and time to think about things and suddenly purpose is popping up everywhere.
We’ve got many ideas but one of the biggest things we’ve done is to write lists of things we’d like to do in our lives and why. Once we wrote all this down, it became much easier to evaluate our decisions as to what is next by comparing the ideas to the bigger list and seeing how it helps us move towards the experiences we’re after. These lists are long term things we’d like to experience but things we could be continually be moving towards. Here is a list of some of the things we’re after (Julie and I approached this a bit differently as is apparent by the list formats):
-Complete the CPA exam and work towards developing a meaningful career in the accounting world
-Learning Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin
-Daily exercise including the completion of an Iron Man and a 100 mile race
-Creating art: work on promoting her book and creating greeting cards
-Learn to play the guitar and improve on piano
-Earning a salary comparable to her potential
-Live on a sailboat: this to me seems like the ultimate in self sufficiency. It is a level of freedom that seems greater than any landlocked experience.
-Have children: I deeply want the experience of raising children and passing along my values and genes to the next generation
-Live in India: a lifelong desire to experience life in India. Their cuisine is tops on my list and I am intrigued by their culture more so than any other.
-Learn Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish: these are the basic languages along with English that will enable me to understand and communicate with the majority of people in the world
-Build a home: I want the experience of building my own dwelling with my own hands, to design it for our life needs, and establish a place that is ours on land
-Learn a medical skill: I would like to be able to help people with the basics for keeping their physical bodies alive and healthy. I would like to experience the challenge of life threatening conditions (ER).
-Earn a philosophy PhD: I love philosophic thought and the questions philosophers discuss. I would like to focus on these questions more deeply and work towards a degree that would enable me to be an academic professor.
-Learn to play the cello: the cello speaks to my emotions more than any other instrument. Music is also a unique way to speak to people. I would like to be able to create music as a means of expression using the cello as my medium.
-Complete an Ironman: a well known serious physical and mental challenge I would like to accomplish.
-Complete a competitive 100 mile race: I would like to not only complete but seriously compete in ultra running events
-Complete the CFA exams: I enjoy financial markets and see these exams as a way to learn more about the industry as well as providing me with a skill set for a high earning career should I choose that route again.
So now, we’re sitting at our friend Jed’s place contacting friends and putting together the pieces of potentially the next 12 months to begin tackling these major life projects. This in itself is absolutely amazing. Jed has provided us with one of the most generous and hospitable bits of “trail magic” we’ve ever encountered. Essentially, he has given us the keys to his downtown condo in San Francisco and given us free rein with no pressure for a deadline and actual encouragement to continue staying to visit. We are so grateful and fortunate for this opportunity.
From the planning side of things, we have already been experiencing some difficulties due to our lack of prior planning so it’s important for us now to start working on things a little further out in order to increase the likelihood of greater opportunity. For example, our big picture travel plans were to begin working on the India part of our list, which was going to be the six weeks or so following a Mexico visit. We’ve realized that we are not going to be able to make it happen due to visa and vaccination issues. Had we been more planful, we could have had all this in order and hopped on a plane to India for six weeks after the end of our bike trip.
So currently, our plans are much more wide open. We have the following parameters we’re working with but otherwise, we’re still working on what is next until we spend time with my brother starting in December.
-We have from now until 12/10. We want to be home by 12/10 for family things we have scheduled
-We want to ride from SF to San Diego during that time (10 to 11 days of riding)
-In thinking about what we’d like to accomplish during this time period, we’re interested in doing activities focused largely around learning, i.e. Spanish, studying for the GMAT (Julie) and getting school applications together, preparing for a 100 mile race early next year, and beginning to study for the CFA
Otherwise, we’re largely open. With these parameters, we’re thinking some sort of semi-settled lifestyle will work best for us. We are looking at all the options for places we can rent or places we can stay for this time period, either for one big stay or piecing together many different options. We are very flexible right now but are also wanting to get the barebones planning done for the next couple months so we have an idea as to where we’re going and when. We have realized through the India part of the trip that because we didn’t plan it out better, our options are more limited as to what we can do. As a result, we want to be a bit more planned and prepared.
So much has happened in 5 days in San Francisco apart from visiting with friends and eating lots of good food. We are very happy with our new outlook on life and the new projects we’re beginning to work on. For me, I find great value in life with the projects I throw myself into. I like to get really into them and do my best to live the life to the fullest. For awhile now, we haven’t been fully engaged in any projects that are meaningful to us on a larger scale. However, with some time for introspection, we are both fired up and ready to get to work on life’s next big projects.