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  • Rachel Denning

Can I Sacrifice What I Love to Pursue BIG Dreams, Adventure, & a 'Noble Aim'?

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

I made a commitment 18 months ago to NOT move again... why am I considering it now?


Are we doing it again?


Moving?


Giving up our house. Putting everything in storage that we keep if we don't sell?


I've done it before.


Multiple times. Countless times (literally).


But here I am, 41 years old with 7 children and facing it again.


I thought I never would. I thought I would stay in this home base (of course continuing to travel) until I had a new one to move into.


That was the commitment I made to myself when we moved here 18 months ago.


Why?


Why did I make that commitment? And why on earth am I considering breaking it?


We spent 12 nomadic years wandering and exploring 5 continents, 37+ countries, and countless cities seeking to 'get out and live' and escape a 'humdrum existence'.


The longest stay in any single house during that time lasted about 9 months, three times to give birth (once in Alaska, once in Costa Rica & once in Germany).


So while my love of travel and adventure is sincere, I felt a hole in my heart and soul was filled when we moved to this house.


A longing I had longed for for a long time was finally fulfilled.


A deep, psychological need was finally satisfied.

The need for 'home'.


I love my home. Despite its imperfections. Despite the 'hole in the wall at the bottom of the stairs' that is my office.


I love it just for the fact that it is home.


And I have created it. I have crafted it.


Every picture on the wall. Every book on the shelf. Every towel and rug and pillow, I have chosen, selected, handled, and assigned a place.


It is my creation. A creation for my creations -- my children, my family.


Home, when done right, is an anchor of stability, a refuge from the storms and chaos of life.


There's something comforting about coming home.


After the long journey when you're weary and tired and travel worn, there's nothing sweeter than to walk into your own home and to sleep in your own bed and to sit in your favorite chair with a book and a cup of tea.


Cliche, I know.


But after 12+ nomadic years raising a family on the road, I see how these cliches about home became an adage. They express a truth people feel but can't always articulate.


And now, to give it all up, again, for the unknown, the unfamiliar, the chaotic, the intrigue, the irresistibility, the enchantment of adventure?


Can I do it... again?


And can I do it in a COVID world that is currently so chaotic, insane, fearful, and uncertain?


A place where you can't even trust the information presented to you because you wonder if it's simply fulfilling somebody else's agenda -- one that has no interest or relevance to the life you are leading.


Can I give up my home in a world where 'lockdown' or quarantine could occur at any time, anywhere? Where would my family go to lockdown?


I can handle the idea of having to return home (even from another country) because of COVID constraints. But what if I have no home to return to... then what?

These questions, of course, are already questions on top of questions.


Beyond COVID concerns, how do I maintain productivity without the currently established systems of my home office?

How do I maintain inspiration without easy access to my shelf of books?


Already, each time I pass the piano in the music room, instead of wanting to practice as I used to, I think:

"What's the point? It will soon be sold and I will be traveling through Mexico & Guatemala. Why practice now?"

Of course, we're not contemplating long-term nomadic homelessness as we did before.


It would be a temporary sacrifice toward our long-term 'noble aim' -- our dream of owning a chateau in France which will become a place of learning for our children and grandchildren. (Which I'll write about in detail later).


Moving now will allow us to drive to Guatemala where we can fix up a house we own there. If we can sell it, we'll have money for a down payment on our chateau -- once France is finally open to Americans again.


Pursuing this lofty dream requires the sacrifice of my current home -- and the risk of uncertain outcomes.

But besides giving up my home, I'm also worried about giving up my time.


The time I now spend creating, writing, reading, and living will be consumed in an endless sea of research -- visa requirements, Airbnb and flight reservations, discovering grocery shopping locations, doing currency conversions, and logistics planning.


I've done it before. When traveling full-time these activities consume my thoughts, time, and attention in an urgent way that can't be ignored.


How can it not be so when there are deadlines to meet (check out dates and visa expirations) with the necessity of mouths to be fed and bodies to be sheltered, bathed, and put to bed in places you've never been before?


This doesn't include the upfront work involved in packing an entire 6 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom house in 8 weeks' time, between Thanksgiving and Christmas!


A time that should be spent decorating and celebrating, we'll instead be wrapping valuables in bubble wrap, and taping and labeling boxes for moving.

Not wanting to let go of the home and time and conveniences I have, I can't figure out if I have a bird in the hand and I'm trading it for two in the bush... an ultimately idiotic venture.


Or if I'm a monkey with my hand in a jar who won't let my 'treasure' go in order to free myself from a trap... a trap that's keeping me from my ultimate desire.


As is my norm, I start asking existential questions. Then I realize what's going on here.


It's the beginning of another Hero's Journey.


It's the undeniable call to adventure and the pull of a noble aim.


But I'm refusing the call as I face the fear of the sacrifices required. I'm afraid of the challenges and obstacles I will be required to pass through.


Listening to Jordan Peterson's podcast, I'm encouraged to proceed on this archetypal journey.

"Success [of your noble aim] is a very narrow line. The probability that you're going to stumble on it randomly is zero. [But] if you actually want something, you can have it.
But what [does it] mean by actually want?
It means you reorient your life in every possible way to make the probability that that will occur as certain as possible. That's a sacrificial idea.
You don't get everything you might want [aka desire on a whim]. Obviously. But maybe you can have what you want and all you have to do to get is ask. But the asking isn't a whim or today's wish. You have to be deadly serious about it.
If I am going to live in the world in such a way that my being is justified, what exactly would I aim at?" -- Jordan Peterson Biblical Series: Walking with God

The 'Noble Aim' I am striving to attain IS important enough and big enough and meaningful enough that this sacrifice and journey I'm contemplating will be worthwhile.


It will be worth giving up what I already have. But only if we actually achieve what we're aiming for.


But I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if it's possible.


I don't know if I can give up what I already have in HOPES of achieving something better... eventually.


And in the meantime, how long will I have to remain 'homeless' and nomadic?


I had hoped I wouldn't have to endure it again, but unless I'm willing to settle and keep what I have now -- like the monkey with his hand in a jar -- then I HAVE to be willing to give up what I have now for what I am working toward in the future.


I am not who I could be. I am not where I could be.


I have not achieved all I hope and dream of achieving.

"God only knows what you could do and have and give if you sacrificed everything to it... it [seems] archaic but the act of sacrificing something has some dramatic compulsion to it... it's a way of indicating to yourself that you're actually serious about something.
We don't have rituals of seriousness like that today [like they did during the time of Abraham]. And so it's not so obvious that we're actually serious about anything...
You are not committed to anything unless you're willing to sacrifice for it. Commitment and sacrifice are the same thing...
You have to make sacrifices... And what do you have to sacrifice? You have to sacrifice that which is most valuable to you currently that is stopping you [from achieving your noble aim]." Jordan Peterson, Biblical Series: The Call to Abraham

Sacrificing my current home is a chance for me to prove to myself, to God, and to the universe that I'm serious about pursuing my noble aim -- my longer-term goal of a family estate and 'school' in France.

This is on my vision board


Whatever you do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.


When something beckons to you, you have to listen. Even if -- especially if -- you're terrified.


Whatever it is WILL require you to become a 'fool' -- because you have to be willing to be the fool, to make mistakes -- before you can actually achieve something new or different, or out of the ordinary or extraordinary...


But if you're not willing to do something new, different, or out of the ordinary -- to 'play the fool' -- then you'll never develop and grow. And you will never be transformed.


Being willing to make mistakes, making the best judgments you can at the time, knowing they're likely to be imperfect because you're imperfect, IS the path to achieving what you dream of achieving.


Taking action, even if you make mistakes, still moves you forward.

"What if it's a mistake? It IS a mistake, rest assured. What do you know? But what happens is this -- you're going to NOT stay in stasis... and this is the thing.
People regret most the things they did NOT do, than the mistakes they made while doing things. The willingness to make mistakes is the precursor to transformation.
These are 'redemptive mistakes'. They're the mistakes you make when you try to go and and do something in the world.
But what happens is you are informed the by the results of your errors... as you take stumbling steps [toward your noble aim] you become illuminated and enlightened and informed...
Because you're pushing yourself beyond where you are and you're going in the country you have not yet been in and you learn something...
So you move toward it and you grow... but if you stand still, you fall backwards. You cannot stand still. Because the world moves away from you if you stand still. There is no stasis. There is only backwards.
So if you're not moving forward you're moving backwards... Do not stay in one place.
As you stumble forward you illuminate and inform yourself, and that's because the world is made of information. And if you encounter it and entangle with [the world], it informs you and then you become informed and then you're in formation." -- Jordan Peterson

The commitment is made. The packing begins.


I go through the things in my office, journals, and notebooks.


I open to random pages:

  • A purple notebook has the dates Dec 7-12, 2015, and the 'to-do' for that week is 'pack and move to Europe'. We were living in Morocco, a year before my 7th child would be born.

  • An 'agenda' I bought in France has written on November 15th, 2016, 'packing & organizing'. This was four weeks after my 7th child was born in Germany. On December 8th we moved out of that house and drove to France to meet grandma and grandpa. Then my husband and I (and our six-week-old baby) led a trip to for couples to the Sahara desert.

  • In a 'mom planner' with this quote on the front --

Have the Courage to Make Your Dreams Come True
  • -- is written on the date March 27th, 2018, 'Moving'. This time it's into an RV in the U.S.A where we explored for 9 months.


Packing and moving have often been written on my agenda.


Is my current move any more difficult than those?


And so I return to my original question.


Why are we doing it... again?


It can only be because we are both blessed and cursed to be the archetype of adventure, the explorers, the wanderers, the seekers, the nomad spirit that has inhabited humanity since the beginning of history.


And because we have BIG dreams -- noble aims -- that must be pursued... EVEN IF they are never achieved.


Then suddenly, like Abraham with Isaac, committed and willing to make my sacrifice and to give up my home -- I'm no longer required to do it.


Another solution is presented.


At the last minute, a long-term rental offer is received. I can keep my home and my things, have the costs covered, and continue pursuing my big dreams and noble aim.


But I had to go through the process of giving it up -- so that I knew, God knew, the Universe knew -- I was willing to make the sacrifice... I was truly serious about pursuing my noble aim.


Because sacrifice is what it takes to become your very best self and to create an extraordinary life.


What do you need to sacrifice to achieve your noble aim? Leave a comment below.

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