I’ve vacillated over the course of our trip between feelings of guilt about indulging for so long in something so pleasurable and elation due to the daily delights of traveling. The world is filled with interesting people and places, so isn’t experiencing and appreciating them a good thing? Why is it that I fret so? Is taking a year off with the opportunity to enjoy two uninterrupted expanses of time with my children abroad a frivolous guilty pleasure or a worthwhile luxury? If a guilty pleasure rewards you in the process and then brings pangs of remorse later, I tell myself, then surely our year is a luxury of the finest kind.
I debate with myself about this now and then and one side reasons, we both worked hard for over 30 years and if this is how we want to reward ourselves before going back to the daily grind, all is as it should be. But then the residual memories of going to the office all those many years kick in and the other side of me hisses in my ear, shouldn’t you be doing something more, well, productive? And even though “deserves” never, ever enters my vocabulary, I still manage to feel just a little bit uncomfortable about our sabbatical. Over the years I’ve discussed with a dear friend whether my Catholic guilt or the self-reproach of his Jewish faith is more dramatic and we’ve never come to a conclusion so the jury remains out. But guilt is not a state in which I care to linger so I do my best to move on to more constructive thinking. It helps to envision our year as a scenic educational tour that has taken us via planes, trains, busses and ferries to an ever-changing school with no walls. We hope that all we’ve seen and learned about the world will, in the end, make us better, more well-rounded people with a heightened sensitivity to others. And our fondest wish is that we can pass along our experiences to our children, one day our grandchildren and in my case, to future students in my classroom. I’m a very lucky lady and make sure I remember this every single day.
Guilt be gone, I have more to see and more to learn, and I’m leaving you behind – at least as far as everything gap year related is concerned.
Pictures of our adventures: http://gapyeargirlgoestoeurope.shutterfly.com