As we have both shared, over the last 4+ months (and hopefully over the last 30+ years together) feelings of gratitude have been somewhat overwhelming during this journey – which perhaps ‘officially’ ended with reunion weekend at Nobles earlier this month. So some thoughts about the trip – and about what comes next (if anyone is reading and/or at all interested).
First – the trip. I love data (simple data, however!). So here is some from the trip:
- 11,448 miles driven on American roads
- 50% (roughly) of miles NOT driven on interstate highway
- 30 states traveled to or through
- 2 incredibly beautiful countries – the US and Chile
- 332 (approx) miles hiked
- 440 (approx) miles biked
- 14 Nobles graduates visited along the way
- Favorite new national park – Capital Reef (UT)
- Favorite new US city – Nashville (thanks, Ned!)
- Most surprising/impressive state park – Palo Duro Canyon (outside of Amarillo, TX – go there if you can!)
- Favorite new country – Chile. Wow. (It was also the only new country – but, man, it was amazing)
- Best protest witnessed – International Women’s Day – Santiago, Chile
- Most fun Sarah discovery – downhill skiing again! (Thanks, Parizeaus!)
- Ben’s favorite Memory Lane moment – biking/hiking in Cedar Run, PA (the Bowdoin crowd will appreciate this)
- Favorite hike – too many to name just one (we get asked this regularly)
- Biggest physical challenges – the W-Trek/Torres del Paine and Cerro Castillo – both in Patagonia
- Longest single drive – 833 miles from Hattiesburg, MS to Amarillo, TX
- Most meaningful conversation – so many, but learning from the director of the Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, AL was an important one
- Most powerful museum – The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice (otherwise known as Lynching Memorial) in Montgomery, AL – a place for all Americans to learn
- Coolest wildlife – elephant seals in Cambria, CA
- Most generous hosts – Julia/T/Aunt Nancy in Santa Fe (thank you!) – who knew we’d swing by three times!?
- Most patient person – Sarah by far for putting up w/ me.
A former colleague always talked about “getting after it” with young people – be it on a team, in the classroom, or in life. It feels like we “got after it” on this trip and looking back, it seems like we took pretty full advantage of the opportunity.
Second, home and my ‘next chapter’.
Certainly, this trip gave me time to think about what comes next. What was fairly easy to do was come up with five ‘buckets’ of priorities.
- Bucket #1 – Family and friends – It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) the highest priority for this chapter is making time for the people who matter the most and having the flexibility to create the time to be together whenever possible.
- Bucket #2 – Fitness, health, fun – For both my physical and mental health I need to put the time into this part of life and especially build in time to be outside. One of the best parts about the trip was simply being outdoors for big chunks of every day.
- Bucket #3 – Meaning – I’ve been so fortunate to have meaningful work be integral to my professional and personal lives. I need to land on something(s) that can be built into the day to day but not interfere with buckets one and two.
- Bucket #4 – Learning – There are so many things I’d like to learn. Where (in person? Online?)? When (daily? Weekly?) Experiential or academic? Both? Lots to think about.
- Bucket #5 – Community – One piece of the timing of stepping away from Nobles was to have enough time to build a community in the Upper Valley. We have a number of good friends yet need to continually expand the circle.
To be able to live in this beautiful place (just follow Sarah on Instagram and you’ll see sunset after sunset) is a gift beyond compare. And to know that we have the resources to travel, to support a comfortable life, and to support some causes we believe in is something few people in this world have.
At the same time, there will be two major adjustments for me. Other than sabbaticals, I’ve basically worked full-time (when not in school) for forty years – and to not have that routine will be both a welcome change and require some attitude tweaking. That said, my work life has been so incredibly interpersonal (literally hundreds of interactions every day) and has generated so much positive energy and meaning for me, that I need to figure out where that energy and meaning will come from. I’m not sure yet and while I know I need to be patient in finding those things, my natural impatience could get in the way. We’ll see…and the bottom line is that it’s good to be home, to sleep in the same bed every night, to marvel at the natural beauty, be with my best friend and person I love the most, and be grateful for all we have.
If you get this far, thanks for reading, listening and being part of our journey.
Two weddings on the horizon—so fun!
Stay safe, everyone ❤️.