One of our favorite films for family movie night is Astronaut Farmer. It stars Billy-Bob Thornton as a middle-aged wanna-be astronaut who left NASA and settled for running his father’s farm instead of fulfilling a lifelong dream of going into space. He hasn’t given up on the dream, though, and all hell breaks loose when he tries to buy rocket fuel for a spacecraft he built in his barn. We love the movie because it is about a family with a dream—the grandfather applauds the main character, saying, “Most families don’t even eat dinner together—you’ve got yours dreaming together.” His wife, Audi, stays by him through thick and thin—even supporting his pulling the kids out of school for a month to join his “space program”— at one point when he wants to give up she reminds him that without the rocket they are just an ordinary dysfunctional family.
We get email from all sorts of people—those with boats and without, those who home-school or home-stead and those who live “conventional” lives. Our sharing our adventures, while nautical in nature, isn’t really about going sailing, but about following a dream. We never would say, “you should buy a boat and do what we’re doing” or “everyone should homeschool their kids,” but we might say, “everyone should follow after a dream.” It doesn’t really matter what flavor the dream takes on, as long as you are really living your life and making all the small decisions that are necessary to move toward a goal, so that when opportunity knocks, you’re ready to answer “Yes!”
We are not, by a long-shot, the only family with young children who want to sail off into the blue, but we are in a relatively small group of people with that dream. For some, that dream seems crazy, but we have discovered in our group of friends that there are lots of other kinds of crazy. For example, a good friend of mine and her husband swerved off a lucrative career path to help run an orphanage in Honduras. They are on the cutting edge of widow and orphan care—pursuing something they are really passionate about, and making all the sacrifices that come along with being involved in philanthropy. (You can find them at www.providenceworldministries.org).
Another friend (www.mrshomeschool.com/blog ) who left recently to go live in Costa Rica with her husband and children, runs a web-based business and wanted to travel with her children. I know their families did not understand how they could just up-and-go, but they wanted to give their home-schooled children a real-world education with experiences outside their own culture.
My brother and his wife (www.brikcrate.com) have a small working farm just outside city limits, complete with goats, chickens, gardening and a wood shop. They run two businesses and have six children that they home-school. They are trying their hand at home-steading—a dream that seems less and less crazy as times and financial markets provide less stability.
Last year in the keys, we met a family with ten children, some of whom formed a band and went on tour—they play gigs like Sloppy Joe’s in Key West and are spectacularly talented and loads of fun to listen to (www.thedoerfels.com). What on earth led them to live on the road for part of the year is beyond me, but what do I know? I live on a boat with five kids.
We have good friends who are missionaries in Thailand and just moved to downtown Bangkok, others who manage state parks whose children have grown up in beautiful natural settings and have been schooled in the great outdoors, and still others who participate in civil war battle re-enactments and become a part of living history. What these families all have in common, besides Big Dreams, and, strangely, having lots of kids, is the willingness to take the necessary risks associated with leaving the common life. There is no financial security in dream-chasing. Some have traded retirement later for an adventure now. They don’t care what other people say—they can’t let someone else’s expectations keep them from pursuing an exciting and meaningful life. So, whatever kind of thing floats your boat—we encourage you to find it and chase after it. Do it or die trying because it’s worth it. Life is good, but it is fleeting and fragile.