Basically, my wife and I live a life of, what one of our friends calls “regret avoidance.” We make decisions based on, if we are going to regret NOT doing it later.
Five and a half years ago, we made one of those big decisions and decided to sell our stuff, quit our jobs, and go traveling. Our initial plan was to spend 1 year going from Mexico to Argentina by land. We did that, but didn’t want to stop. So we took teaching jobs in Korea, banked some money and then spent some time in SE Asia. We ended up settling in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 6 months and my wife, Bessie, found a volunteer position teaching refugees from Myanmar (Burma). Through some relationships there, she got a job working in Myanmar starting January of 2011.
Our time in Myanmar was rough. We barely made enough money and had to deal with being pretty cut off from the world; for the first 6 months email barely worked. Heck, electricity barely worked. In addition, our official support was next to zero so we had to figure out things on our own from finding where to live to figuring out how to get a work visa every 10 weeks. I was personally so sick after the first couple months, that I lost about 15 pounds. In any case, we ended up staying there for a 1.5 years and had some of the most formative experiences of our lives. I taught civics to some amazing students and my wife was able to help local organizations who were doing amazing things on a shoestring budget. Overall, it was a struggle, but the struggle made us stronger as people and as a couple.
Being gone for so long from home, we realized that we missed having a community, so we made the big move back to the US a year ago to be a part of a local community. We’ve gotten to spend more time with our family and friends and have not regretted our decision at all.
We do, though, need a reminder to live our lives how we’ve been doing it: mindfully and without regrets. We think the Holstee Manifesto encapsulates this perfectly. “This is your life” is sometimes all we need to remind us to keep on doing what we’re doing.
– Kyle (and Bessie)