“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
In pursuit of a primal lifestyle, I’m mindful of not only feeding and moving my children in more healthful ways, but also engaging them with their surroundings in more meaningful ways.
It is true that our Paleolithic ancestors probably had very little awareness of the larger world beyond their ability to travel on foot, but their complex, intimate knowledge of that environment was essential to survival. Our modern cultural context is very connected to our shrunken, sickly globe. I would argue that our global awareness is just as essential to our survival – socially, environmentally, economically. Certainly, our lives may depend on our ability to become a more cooperative and globally mindful society.
To not bring into our children’s lives a keen awareness of this world in its broad context would be, I think, a great disservice. For many of us this involves dreams of tourschooling our children or eco-touring as a family, volunteering with an agency overseas, working and living abroad to provide a different cultural experience, or simply traveling to eat up as much diversity as we can palate.
I need to give a nod to a little link I have on the right. Though a “primal family” may be part of what I strive for, I am also inspired by much bigger things. An Awfully Big Adventure is Stephanie Laskoski’s blog about her family’s year-long trip around the world. I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie in a writing workshop this last spring. She is a delightful person and has a wonderful way with words. Stephanie and Jeff have two daughters who are 9 and 11.
To dream about traveling with your children is very romantic, but let’s be realistic for a second – it is a monstrous task. Financially, the cost of a year-long adventure could be astronomical; logistically there would be constant planning and working out of details –flights, visas, accommodations, shots; personally, your children would be changed by the experience, but we all know how children thrive on routine. There is nothing routine about travel until you become accustomed to being disoriented – in time, culture, language and space – and then that, perhaps, becomes routine. I’m pretty sure we would all take a while to get there.
The Laskoski’s planned their trip for six years before they boarded their flight to London in September. As far as I know they are neither bohemian radicals nor extraordinarily well-off. They are just some people with ordinary jobs and lives who decided to do something extraordinary as a family. Clearly, it took some commitment to make it happen. Read her blog – it continues to be a commitment to make it happen. They are only 9 weeks in and have already experienced the gambit.
It is important to note that this family is embracing the adventure in big ways. They sought out historical and culturally relevant novels for the girls to read en route. They are homeschooling as they travel. They are facing and embracing new challenges at every turn. At 9 and 11 their daughters are not only learning what the world looks like, they are learning how to resolve conflict on the road, deal with crisis, make instant and important decisions, get lost and found in a foreign country, live on a budget, bridge cultural barriers and be present in a very diverse world. That seems like a pretty cool start to a list of gifts to give your kids.
Just like you and I will never intimately know the complexity of the woods by only hiking, my children will not understand the world just by having been travelers. But it is a step in the right direction. It lays a foundation for global awareness. More importantly, perhaps, it is an opportunity for them to drop cultural comforts and encounter difference from the more vulnerable position of being the outsider.
In the meantime, I’m hanging on her every post, (not drooling over the Italian pizza, pasta and wine, mind you), and cheering on this completely inspiring family.