The World is My Lawn Mower
Back in my corporate slave days, I worked with an engineer named Greg. Though he was almost twice my age and we had very little in common, we got along famously. And thankfully, given the long hours and road trips we endured together.
He was quite talented, insofar as I knew, given my lack of engineering knowledge of any kind. I just knew that he was very respected and easy to work with. It also helped that he obviously really loved his work.
Oh, how I envied him. We both battled the same congested traffic in our daily commute, stared at the same grey cubicle walls for hours upon hours, yet for him it wasn’t the raging battle as it was for me. Greg enjoyed it, being a mechanical engineer was his destiny. He once told me a story of dismantling the family lawn mower and putting it back together at the age of twelve just to see how it worked. That was his gift.
I am not one of those lucky humans who have a specific genius to guide them. I consider myself to be good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing. I was the one in high school whose aptitude test produced oddly scattered results: I was told I’d be a good pediatrician or farmer. Basically, I was lost.
I went into business school because it would mean a good, safe job and a solid future. And hey, I was good at it.
It was four years ago this week that Pete and I drove away from the last place that was truly our “home”. I had already quit my job, Pete was in the last few days of his, and there was no turning back. We had given up our six figure incomes, sold the roof from over our heads, and were about to begin the biggest adventure of our lives.
It is interesting to look at this week as our vagabondaversary – to reflect on our green selves with our backpacks as new and shiny as the world before us. We’ve been through quite a cycle of sentiment since then: the highs of those perfect travel days where everything clicks, the lows of being sick and homesick, the new friends gained all over the world, the painful distancing of those back home whom we naively thought would love and support us forever. This adventure has been full of positively life-changing experiences, but not without some very hard sacrifices.
Travel can also be boring, and hard. Not every town has world-class sights to behold. Nor is a deep, soul-nourishing connection made with locals on a daily basis. Getting lost is not always “half the fun” – sometimes it is all the misery.
Sometimes it includes hard commutes and scenery akin to grey cubicle walls.
But there is a difference.
The world is my lawn mower.
I think I’m pretty good at my new life’s work, but still not great at it.
Please don’t ever ask me for packing tips, because I don’t have any. My backpack is not light, nor does it fit in a plane’s overhead compartments, like many long-term travelers state it *must* for the best experience ever.
We sometimes show up in a town and stand perplexed for several minutes with no prior research done and no idea where we are going. We bicker about which of us didn’t do our homework (eh, it was probably me), while rain pours down on us and our stomachs roar with hunger.
I sometimes finish blog posts just minutes before they should be posted. I say: “Ah, it’s good enough,” more times than I would like.
But I’m strong enough to carry my too-heavy pack, good enough to learn a few foreign phrases to ask for directions, and proud of my work more often than not. I don’t have the wherewithal or genius that Greg did for his craft, I can’t understand all the moving parts on first glance, but the intense love and desire I have for the ongoing journey of discovery spurs me on.
Because today I sat in Istanbul. I sat with my laptop in a cafe, drinking çay, basking in the sounds of the call to prayer, peeking up at my favourite building in the world, the Blue Mosque, just off to my left. On this day I answered emails from readers excited about house-sitting and I enjoyed drinks with friends who we met once before in Sicily. I laughed with the waiter who laughed at my butchering of his language, and we chatted about parts of his culture I was not aware of, despite being in Turkey for several months.
I got to do all that today.
Give me the grey cubicle walls of unimpressive scenery. Give me the boring days, the sick days, the rainy days.
Give them all to me, and I will reflect on them with appreciation. Because today I was privileged enough to figure out another moving part of the lawn mower, and sappy enough to shed a tear for this journey I’ve been on for the past four years with my love.
And one more grateful tear for you, our friends and readers, for being along for the ride. Thank you.