Recently I wrote about the tragic joy of the Heroic Life:
You must accept that today may be your last experience. And you must love that truth. You must love that there may be nothing more: the moment is enough. It is sacred in itself.
My friend and host in Mexico, Mauricio Quintana, asked a vital question:
Do you ever get a rest or refuge from that? Is there a joyful joy of the Heroic Life?
I don’t think most people will live the Heroic Life for their entire lifetime.
Traveling freely, seeking challenges, and risking yourself to help others: this vision has selective appeal. Many people may want to live it for a few years, especially when they are young. Most of them will switch to a settled lifestyle. They might fall in love, start a family, or feel at home in one of the places they visit.
Their years traveling and adventuring will become a sun-bleached memory. The glory days when they were young.
This is right and as it should be. The point of the Heroic Life is to help you find your purpose in life. Once you find that, it may take you in a very different direction.
But some people will fall in love with the Heroic Life itself. Their purpose is aligned with that adventuresome road. These people will become the mentors and guides of younger folk picking up the mantle.
I suspect I am one of those people.
There are times when the life I’ve chosen is intimidating. It is, after all, a life of willfully seeking challenge. And I find refuge in two different sources.
Days of Peace
There are hard days and hard months. 33 hours of flights and airports while sick with food poisoning? That was a hard day. A full month of living along on a noisy, crowded street—that was a hard month.
But there are also times of immense peace. Mauricio’s flat is in a quiet, upper middle class district of Mexico City. I took a nap last week. With the warm sun on my face, I fell gently asleep.
I floated like a castle in the sky.
It is precious moments like this—moments of security, relaxation and peace, surrounded by friends—that take on extra meaning when traveling the road. These moments are not overwrought like vacations. They’re more like a sunny Sunday. They arise freely as you meet friends and share your purpose.
Everyone has days like this. When I worked in an office and had a busy itinerary, it was easy to overlook them. To the wandering adventurer they take on added sweetness. Like giving up a life of daily doughnuts and then enjoying a fresh pear.
The Eternal Refuge
I never relished my friends the way I do now. Specifically, a small number of people seem to be kindred spirits—they understand what I’m doing, and why. My lifestyle has meant saying goodbye to old friends who are fun to be around but don’t understand my calling. It also means meeting people who truly connect with what I do. That forms a stronger, more powerful bond than just being coworkers or going to school together.
Fellowship is the eternal refuge of the traveler.
I will part ways with friends many times on the great adventure, but fellowship on the road is an enduring source of joy. Like-minded and bold-hearted fellows are most soothing to the traveler’s soul.