One month down, three to go – road trip reflections from Ben

    Just over a year ago I knew my time at Nobles was going to come to an end in the relatively near future – the real question was just ‘when?’. 

    When working/teaching from Vermont during the pandemic I found the need to build into my calendar 30 or so minutes in the middle of each day to get outside and walk. Sometimes silently to think. Other times to grab an episode of The Daily, Brene Brown or someone else with interesting things to say. One day a podcaster – attempting to give advice to early or mid-career folks – posited the idea that when thinking about one’s professional future they should “reflect on the most satisfying and important six months of their lives” and try to replicate that somehow in searching for the next thing. 

    It took me a nanosecond to find those six months – as it had happened twice with six months of travel with Abby and David at 9 and 11 in 2000 and then with Sarah in 2015. Yet I also felt this deep level of dissatisfaction with the way school life was in the midst of Covid – zoom classes, students masked and zip codes away when we were on campus, endless zoom meetings, and just a lack of meaningful human interaction. Yet the spring semester of 2021 gave some hope that we might return to some semblance of normalcy in the fall.

    So the plan became clear. Hope for a ‘normal’ semester of teaching, coaching, planning, supporting – and then step away mid-year to have another ‘best six months’. 

    And so as we complete the first of those six (sitting in quarantine in Santiago) it has been as satisfying as I could have hoped for. 

    Why?

  • The comfort of the road – and being with Sarah. We have plenty of practice at living on the move and in all sorts of environments and it now comes easily to us. Time together without the press of daily (mostly Nobles) commitments, an often unspoken way of supporting each other or anticipating what will come next or what needs to be done, or having the time to tackle a quick crossword (she’s 1000 times better at it than I), the life of travel that some people find stressful is actually invigorating and brings us closer.
  • The outdoors beckons us daily. We both love to be outside – and almost regardless of the weather. While our North American tour has been colder than anticipated, it hasn’t gotten in the way. We’ve been able to explore wide, windy beaches in South Carolina, long rails to trails on our bikes in the panhandle of Florida or in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hike in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas and the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in Santa Fe (where I even went downhill skiing for a day) – the opportunities to be outside have been priceless. 
  • The importance of family and friends just couldn’t be more apparent. We so rarely get the opportunities to “hang” with those closest to us. Holidays are rushed, work needs to be done, and there never seems to be enough time. On the other hand, this journey has provided us with time to linger, without agendas or expectations, and have deeper and more meaningful conversations with some of the most important people in our lives. 
  • And – finally – this month has affirmed both how right the timing was to step away (I got that wonderfully mostly normal semester!) and how grateful I am for having lived the Nobles and family life I’ve lived for the last thirty years.

Now it’s on to five weeks in Chile with some of our closest friends (Alec and Susan Lee from CA) to some of the most beautiful places in the world to live mostly in the outdoors. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe.

Here’s where we’re hanging out – the balcony of our hotel room as we await negative PCR tests from the airport in Santiago this morning:

Ben beat me in two out of three cribbage games today 😕. Lovely day here: 75 & ☀️.

Stay safe everyone! ❤️

2 thoughts on “One month down, three to go – road trip reflections from Ben

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