When I tell people that I’m taking my wife and one year old daughter on a 3 month Outback expedition, I generally get one of three responses:
- Are you mad? Why would you want to do that?
- That’s freaking awesome.
- (a combination of both A and B)
It’s a tough question to answer on paper but I’ll give it a shot.
I think I need to break this question down into two parts; Why take the family and Why Adventure altogether. I’ll tackle the latter first.
This is an intensely personal question. Ask a different person and you’ll get a different answer. In me attempting to answer; you’re going to get a bit of a window into what makes me tick as a person.
Ready…ok: I have FOMO and I can’t bear not seeing what’s over that hill or around that corner and I just love having an adventure.
Done. Let’s move on!
Alright…it’s not as simple as that (even though I really really do enjoy it). For years now I’ve been lucky to head off on some cool expeditions across the world. In particular the kayak trip and the Antarctic expedition provided me with an immense sense of purpose, passion, fulfillment, achievement and joy.
Balanced though with the positives are also some soul crushing negatives; extreme starvation, heartbreak, frustration, disappointment, fear are all equally present.
Doesn’t sound that nice? Well it isn’t, but it makes the highs even higher and when you settle back down into daily life you appreciate the little things even more.
We live in a society and world that runs off schedules, business and structure. A world of scheduled mortgage repayments, predetermined career paths, set syllabuses in schools, the same TV show, the same routines. We are creatures of comfort and routine and only when we allow ourselves to push those boundaries and break that routine do we find that we are infinitely capable of so much more than we think we are.
Don’t get me wrong. Adventure does not have to be out on an expedition. That’s just one form it takes.
Adventure is an activity with an unknown outcome. It can be on the sporting field, in theatre, in business, in whatever you as an individual are passionate about. It’s a function of your desires, experience, situation and environment and its meant to push you limits.ds
I Adventure because I want to make the most of my short time on Earth. And for the moment, the outdoors is my canvas.
Why take the family?
Initially, I was psyched to do an Australian desert trip…solo.
Lauren backed me and was wholeheartedly supportive. I was planning, working on routes, strategising and then, Lauren got pregnant.
At this point, I started dragging my feet…’yeah I’m still planning a trip’ but as Lauren’s belly grew, my wanderlust shrank. Lauren remained supportive, I was the handbrake.
When Morgan was born, I knew that I couldn’t leave my family for three months. I just couldn’t miss that adventure…and the first three months were so freaking wonderful but really tough. Severe flux, sleepless nights, no clue what we were doing – it was almost like an expedition, but not quite.
5 months in, I was in limbo. People told me that I couldn’t do another expedition now that I had a kid. I had to ‘hang up the boots’ or end up in divorce like some many of the other adventurers I knew (it’s a field with a very high divorce rate). It seemed I was being given an ultimatum, either have a family or have an adventure, but not both. Once again, society was dictating to me.
At presentations, I started mumbling answers to ‘what was next’. Making excuses.
‘Why don’t we go as a family?’
What?? Have an adventure AND have a family life?! Lauren to the freaking rescue!
I had thought about this as an option, fantasied about it, but never gave it proper thought. I thought that by even saying it to Lauren I would be putting a stupid amount of pressure on her and she would feel that she had to say yes.
Problem solved – the trip was back on!
Never in our lives will we be able to have an experience like this. 24/7 for three months. 100% in each others company. In nature. To be able to see and share a journey like this with my family is an incredible opportunity.
I know that by doing this we are going to push our bodies, our sanity and our relationship to the limit but I have no doubt that we can handle it and it is going to be one of the most formative, important things we can do as a unit.
I want to raise a strong, curious and resilient daughter – a force of nature. That blueprint will be written by exposure, challenges, obstacles, all with us there to guide her through. I hope she gets the same connection to the outdoors that her mother and I have and I hope she always wants to know what’s over that hill too.
I’m not taking the family.
We’re going as a family.