Friends have asked how we came to decide to sell most everything we own, become homeless and unemployed, and seek to learn with humility and grow together. In reality, it took us about 30 minutes to decide somewhere between Rico and Ridgway in the San Juan Mountains more than two years ago. Rico and Ridgway are both quintessential, tiny Rocky Mountain towns. Rico is so small there is no population listed in the atlas and Ridgway, 90 miles away, has a population under 1,000. In between the two town sites, Lizard Head Pass and Dallas Divide contain granite monoliths crusted by white caps of snow reaching soulfully into the sky. The vista inspires the type of thinking that leads one to ask questions about life, personal growth, and values. In December of 2009, as we drove between Rico and Ridgway, we discussed that whatever we did next in life as Sally retired in two and half years, we needed to do together. We needed to challenge ourselves with new experiences and personal growth, and we needed to give back to a world that had given us so much.
The world. We began to discuss how we had both been raised in white, middle-class America and had spent most of our lives working in natural resources and education. We realized that there were over 7 billion people with countless cultures that had much to teach us if we could figure out how to listen, observe, participate, and learn. We also discussed how our most significant learning came when we had little safety net, when we leaped forward into the unknown, but maintained our values and principles in the journey forward.
By the end of the 30 minutes, we knew we had to let go of a life we loved, a place that may be one of the most special on earth, and the daily comfort of community. We needed to voyage into the unknown.
So the journey began with finding out how to let go of over a combined 100 years of items we take with us through life, giving notice to our different places of employment, and learning how to live a more nomadic life with the goal of carrying no more than 15 pounds each.
We had much to do and much to learn.