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The Adventure to Asia
Intentions for my sabbatical ahead
I’m officially on… sabbatical. “Sabbatical” doesn’t feel like a completely accurate term for whatever this is, but it’s close enough. I’m taking a break from structured employment, but I’ll still be engaging in the same crafts I’ve been cultivating over the past years. It’s not vacation, and it’s not “work” either.
Most accurately, I’ve encountered an impulse to explore, to reconcile some pieces of myself that I don’t yet have an understanding of. This situation I call a sabbatical is a quest to uncover these mysteries – in the world outside and the world within.
How it Happened
One of our final days in Austin, Jackie went to the nail salon to clean up her nails after the wedding. When the nail artist learned about our sabbatical plans, she commented that we must be “very rich” to embark on this journey.
She’s right. Uprooting and betting on ourselves is an expensive affair. We’re blessed to have this opportunity. And yet, any explanation of this life stage feels a bit reductive. The Pathless Path captures this feeling wonderfully.
“beyond the headlines of dramatic life changes are almost always longer, slower, and more interesting journeys.”
~ Paul Millerd, The Pathless Path
The first glimmers of this plan emerged early in my relationship with Jackie, back in the summer of 2020. We had started a Notion document entitled “The Trip.”
The idea lay dormant for a while in the wake of the move to our new home, Austin, TX. Relentless as ever, it quietly crept back into our conversations in September of 2022. The conversations turned into rough plans, which, to our surprise, didn’t feel too far-fetched.
We’ve been saving money pretty aggressively for three years. We allocated intelligently and we were thrifty about our daily spending. We’ve lived comfortably, but not lavishly. Instead of using our savings for a down payment, we’ve decided to travel. Now, in October of 2023, we’re beginning our journey. After a few days of respite in New England, we head for a few days to Doha, and then travel onward to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Trip Intentions, a List
🌏 Dig into, write about, and uncover the mysteries that surround my desire to more deeply experience the East. Live in places that can bring out cultural and spiritual energy within me. Sit with it, see what happens.
🏡 Travel to live, not to vacation. Stay put for longer intervals of time. Exercise, eat fresh food, meditate, pray.
🥾 Write about my past. Journey inward and use writing as a vehicle for comprehending the worlds that I’ve lived in before.
💎 Build for the web. Keep up with the latest Ruby happenings. Attend a conference. Carry on my craft as an engineer and make things that delight me. Keep the tools sharp and doors open for collaboration.
💪 Increase my resilience by exposing myself to novel people, places, and situations. Be steadfast in the face of discomfort.
🎺 Use the internet and our local surroundings to find new friends. Share stories openly online. Keep in touch with existing relationships and create new ones.
🎁 Reimagine what it means to impact the world. Understand my gifts. Give them openly, yet selectively, and see where it leads.
🍃 Still myself in this reset of life. Rather than live by a to-do list, cultivate the calm wanderer within. Weave through cities. Weave through topics. Watch myself evolve and smile with awareness of the shifts.
Embracing a Non-Plan Plan
As we wrapped up our life in Austin, I felt a burn of anxiety. Perhaps it was the realization that a treasured chapter of life was over. Perhaps it was the flurry of movement, the bunches of uncertainty. When a car, cat, home, community — effectively a whole way of life — evaporates in a mere ten days, it causes a jolt. With a timeline like ours, the uprooting was made manifest and plain to the senses.
“Figuring it out” feels both empowering and against my natural impulse. Over the past couple years, I’ve become accustomed to a level of stability and consistency.
As my world’s shape materially changes, this transition is no longer relegated to mental visions, dispassionate spreadsheets, and the intoxicating aroma of change. It’s here, it’s now. It’s exciting, heartbreaking, fascinating, scary.
Part of what makes it so is that there’s no itinerary for this trip. I’ve typically navigated the mists of uncertainty with quiet confidence. I see myself as someone who can deal with the unknown. And yet, I haven’t bet on myself like this before.
As I wade into unknown waters, I wear a big smile. I’m ready.
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