With Lia, the youngest of our three children, headed off to attend her last two years of college, we're planning a short adventure of our own back to Franca's homeland, Italy. Specifically, the island of Sicily, where her father was born. Our purpose is one part rest and celebration for having raised three authentic, open-minded adults, and another part self-discovery, for the thirty plus years of being together and finding ourselves with the opportunity to ask: What comes next?
It is a question we don't take lightly and are painfully aware of our privilege in being able to ask it. For most of our lives, we've tried to stay in control of our life’s direction and not let it choose the path for us. Strangely enough, the hurdles to that modest endeavor are substantial. Finding the right job. Having children. Buying a home. Starting a business. Each of these has the ability to check the box of deep-rooted longing and yet none quite prove to be the respite from longing we'd hoped. There is always something more it seems. More to want, more to need, more to do. And those unchecked boxes get bigger or smaller or in some other way just too limiting, too empty of surprise and the enlightenment which comes with granting yourself permission to grow into your full self.
Granted, all those boxes have a purpose—some of which are valid and in terms of self-preservation our lives would not function well without them. There should be purpose, yes, around work. Around faith and family and friends. Around the values we hold near and dear, and the person we think we should be. There are boxes around even purpose.
But there are boxes, too, around longing and place. Around home and the idea of home which we carry with us wherever we live. Over time, we may find ourselves living less of the life we were longing to live and more of the one determined by those unchecked boxes. Starting over, or pivoting, or just coming up for a breath of fresh air feels impossible, or worse, like some kind of sedition from the life to which you’ve grown accustomed.
For sure, in a certain sense, taking a month off to explore an island feels unreasonable and a bit like a revolution. So was opening a bakery and there, the question we ask ourselves most often is not has it been worth it, or could we have done it somehow better somewhere else, but why didn’t we do it sooner. Such is the soul of a revolution. It’s not a thing, but a thought, and because success is a stick of mythical dimensions—it's universally foreign and unique to all people—not easily conveyed to others. I do know that it took grit, audacity and courage, and cannot be boiled down into a language anyone else can and should understand. Unreasonable to one might feel extraordinary to another. Or as the words of the poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson, suggest:
We tell you, tapping on our brows,
The story as it should be,—
As if the story of a house
Were told, or ever could be;
What is shared, we believe, is the sentiment that life is about learning and trying and failing and getting back up again. It's about discovering and walking your own path with intention and authenticity, being open to the big and small revelations we have throughout our days and lives, thus enabling them to possibly move us into some audacious, new course of action. Like starting a bakery. Or a family. Or finding purposeful work. Or just dreaming of a life on an island your family once called home, halfway around the world.
We're calling our project The Revelate: Sicily; A newsletter of longing, place and purpose, and will be sharing our experiences, starting in August, in a serial newsletter of the same name. In it we'll pack feature stories and videos about Sicily and our trip there, but also more practical, science-based info such as:
- Observations about travel, and living abroad, in general.
- Our usual contempt for hypocrisy and skepticism for the conventional and commercial, all backed by our promise to cut through the bullshit wherever we find it.
- A pre-occupation with the question of does where you live influence your ability to be happy. What about longevity and wellness? How does work, family, and especially, purpose, factor in?
- We’ll walk—literally, in some case—through a test case of starting something new in a very unfamiliar place (much as we did with the bakery).
- And finally, the formulation of a better idea (we hope) based on our findings for how someone might live longer, better, with less, wherever they are.
You can sign up for a paid subscription to the newsletter or just follow us on social media for the pictures and snippets. In both, we hope to encourage you, too, in living your own most authentic, audacious self, to give intention and thought to the question, whenever it arrives, of what comes next.
We hope you’ll come along, take a walk with us, and imagine what the future holds.