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Downside

April 11, 2010

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the romance of our grandiose quest. Truly, we’re having a great time, but it’s not all upside.

Logan has learned a lot this year, in ways no classroom can offer instruction, but the converse is also true. He’s learned biology from a textbook, interpretive hikes, and YouTube videos, but we lacked a science lab for controlled experiments. Likewise, my expertise falls short in some subjects. Logan’s guitar comprises our music curriculum, but I don’t know how to play it. He picks a song and we parse the how-to video on guitartutee.com. We get the job done, but there are better ways to study science and music.

This week, I was reminded of the human dimensions that this trip has pushed into the void. We stayed in a house with a basement room full of Legos, and I couldn’t pry Logan out with a crowbar. “I’d forgotten how much fun it is to play with Legos!” he explained, like an addict after his first relapse. (He didn’t even want to skateboard!) Later that night, another repressed facet of his humanity found voice. Beside me in his sleeping bag, he whimpered pitifully about how much he missed his friend – a boy we just met last week! How can separation from a newfound pal cause such profound loneliness? His heart is that desperate for peer relationships.

He’s not the only one with heartache. Video Skype calls to my wife have sustained our still-happy marriage, but we are both counting the hours until our joyful reunion in Washington DC (672 hours from now). Separate from this estrangement, I’m also stifling a growing desire for fulfillment of a professional nature. Being Logan’s tour manager, chauffeur, and sixth grade tutor has been hands-down my favorite job to date, but I’m ready to shrink those roles so that I can wedge an actual “career” into the pie chart of my life.

When we crafted this solution, we knew that there would be sacrifices, but we decided that the benefits outweighed them. We were right, but the gaps in this formula undermine its durability. This 25,000 mile journey wears thin, as it draws to a close, with only five states left to visit. The next challenge will be to concoct a balanced life – a permanent situation – that covers all the bases, including the ones we’ve neglected.

Look for this post on Band of Fathers next week

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