The lesson of Europe


So I’m back in the United States. Back home. Back in Starbucks, writing. Back in my bed. Back into my routines.


I wok up yesterday morning in Haslemere, England, the world dizzy and exciting. Now everything has slowed down to its old normal pace. And yet, I’m euphoric.

In the aftermatch of 9.11, as the wife and I smelled the ash and walked through the streets, looking for answers and reasons, I kept a journal. One of the things I wrote was, “I don’t see any meaning to this, and probably never will. But if there’s something we can take from 9.11, it’s the motivation to live—because we never know when life ends. So eat the most fabulous foods. Travel to places you’ve never been. Take risks. Step out of our comfort zones.”

That’s what my family did. We left our safe home with our safe neighbors and safe streets and moved to a town, Arbucies, Spain, that we’d never heard of. We spoke 95% Spanish, ate unfamilar grub, drove strange roads with crazy twists and turns. We grabbed our two young children by the cuffs and said, “No more summer camp—you’re coming to Spain!” They didn’t really want to go. Now they’re thrilled they did.

I’m not trying to show off, just wanting people to follow our lead. Get out there! Get off the sofa! You can move to another country! You can go back to school! You can escape the patterns and boredom! It just takes effort and oomph and the willingness to put aside the comfort.


PS: Yes, the shorts are terrible. But I loved them. Marshall’s—$12. When we flew from Spain to France, we took an airline that punnished you for excessively heavy bags. The night before the flight we were way over the max. So I left the shorts behind. The Spanish man whose house we lived in was euphoric.

5 thoughts on “The lesson of Europe”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. The essence of this post, plus the old post after you went skydiving, has pushed me in the direction of going back to school. Had to really just take the leap, recognize that I wanted/needed a change and needed to get out of my comfort zone to do that. Love involving your kids with this as well, there going to grow up with a worldly, experienced outlook, which is something you don’t often see in American kids today.

  2. Totally agree! Thanks as usual Jeff. BTW – where did you find the family to swap houses with? Website? It’s a great idea. The shorts? Not so much…

  3. Great points Jeff!

    I lost two friends on 9/11 (Lynn Goodchild and Shawn Nassaney). Two great young people, heading to Hawaii for a trip, with seemingly so much life ahead of them.

    I had suffered loss before, but that day was such a shock on a huge scale that you couldn’t come away from it being unaffected.

    I know that I live my life now differently than I did before. My wife and I are checking things off the bucket list now, instead of later.

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