I got Sam this race car helmet from the gift shop at the Glasgow Museum of Transport recently (an awesome place to go by the way). Museum gift shops are a guilty pleasure, I always find something I want that’s usually overpriced, and the kids always seem to as well. However, this helmet was only £4! It must have been a mistake, as I’ve seen all manner of plastic items with much fewer parts priced three times as much, so I considered it a purchase worthy of the few hours of fun that we would have with it.
The thing is, Sam barely took it off once over the course of the next couple of days. I think I actually had to tell him that he couldn’t sleep while wearing it on the first night.
That £4 purchase has now given us days and days worth of fun.
But the best part of the helmet purchase is seeing how Sam behaves differently with it on. He’s a race car driver! A superhero! He’s invincible! He pretends that the visor gives him an extra shield to protect him against the sun (which is actually kind of true) and against Grandpa’s robot laser beams and careens about shouting and sliding with wild abandon.
Aside from the huge smiles that we all get and how much fun it is to play with Sam and his helmet, it’s gotten me thinking about the connection between the playing dress-up and pretending to be something versus actually being it. What’s the difference? We all start as pretenders and we all feel like fakes at first. What you wear (and how it fits) can make you feel invincible or invisible. You have to start somewhere.
One of the best pieces of advice I have been given was from a former mentor who would tell people that really wanted to switch what they were doing professionally (i.e. take on a new role doing different work than they are currently doing) to simply find a way to start doing the work now, regardless of whether they had permission. In other words, get a helmet and start pretending.
A £4 helmet gives Sam permission to be something that he might not think he is, but that’s exactly where the path to being a race car driver starts.
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
Benjamin Disraeli Former prime minister of the United Kingdom
In about six months we are moving our family from our home in Seattle across the ocean to Scotland. It’s a pretty big life change. That being said, I want to try to attempt to explain why we’re doing this, and, I’ll let you know right now, this explanation might be a letdown. Just when I think I have a pretty solid handle on the reasons, they turn into marbles on an uneven table. My wife Kav and I have been talking about this for awhile, but it was always a “someday we should…” conversation. Then something shifted, but I’m not quite sure how or why, it’s still kind of a mystery.
A few years ago, I would have found it unlikely to know I would be moving out of the country. I’ve always lived in the US. Although I’ve moved houses and I moved schools a bunch as a kid, I’ve really only lived in two states: Washington and Wyoming. I’ve worked at Microsoft for almost 13 years. Not only that, but I’ve been working in gaming for 6 years, and my latest assignment is with Minecraft. I am LITERALLY doing what I dreamed of doing as a kid, making video games. And now I’m saying the fact I have my dream job isn’t as important as this opportunity. This strikes me as a profound leap, and I want to know how to to re-create it, mass produce it (in pill form preferably), and do it more.
But before I fumble around explaining how I got to my yes on the decision, let me try explain why we want to to do this.
First off, we’re making the big move by choice, independent of a job offer or citizenship concerns or any other forcing factor. Both my wife and I feel strongly that it’s time for a change and we want to raise our kids closer to family (or at least a part of it). This is what we say outwardly at least. It’s definitely more complicated than that, but those are the easy reasons to explain. There are plenty more.
We’re moving so that our kids will know (some) of their family more and so that we’ll have a support network while raising our kids. We’re moving for all the new connections to people, in work and in school and in life, that we’ll all make. We’re moving so we can experience a new country and way of life, and so we can go through a big project (and the challenges we’ll face along the way) together, as a family. We’re moving because there are more guns than people in the US. We’re moving so we can have weekends away in Paris (and so I can go on excursions to Belgium for beer…shh, don’t tell Kav). We’re moving to shake things up and ensure we don’t get too comfortable. We’re moving because “we’d like to someday” could very well never happen, and it certainly won’t unless we act.
The magnitude of the shift that this will make in all of our lives cannot be understated, which is ultimately the point (and also the source of our fears).
What’s so difficult to explain, and what I’d like to articulate in some beautiful way so that others can benefit, is what pushed us over the edge to make the decision. What made us both get to the point where we like, “Yup, let’s get rid of our new house right next to a great school in one of the most beautiful places in the planet and our six figure salary and beautiful cars and stock options and crazy comfortable life and shake the dice and start over with NO STUFF doing something else that probably isn’t going to be worse and potentially could be AMAZING and maybe never come back”?
At the end of all the worries, I realized (and maybe Kav has know this all along), that the likely upside is much greater than the unlikely downside.
The decision seems obvious to me now but how’d I get to this point? Kav has already touched on her thoughts. For me, I think the factors that led me to feeling so comfortable with it come down to:
Simplifying my life and trying to reduce material needs/desires
Carefully curating the inputs I pay attention to (feeds, screen time, friends, books, etc)
Being more present with my kids and wife, and (trying to) be as intentional and tuned-in as I can in every moment
I wasn’t expecting this. Kav and I argued over her desire to move and my interpretation of her reasons, although I always knew I wanted to live in another country eventually, I didn’t think I wanted to do it this soon. Now it’s hard to imagine why I was opposed.
I’d like to think that by focusing on the seemingly small and simple things, I was receptive and open to a big decision as it came around.
At first there was a no, and then there was a yes.
I’m Kav. I’m 41 years old, Wife of my soulmate Nick, and Mama to our 2 beautiful kids. I was born in Trinidad, raised mostly in Scotland, and live in the greater Seattle area of the USA.
My husband loves to write. I love to think, and then occasionally blurt out a whole load of stuff in one big mass. We are about to uproot the family and move to the UK from America so finding a constructive way to put it all down, organize our thoughts well and capture all of our excitement, fears and hesitations ALONG the way MAKES SENSE.
I join my husband on this writing journey 🙂
Maybe one day, our kids will read this. And instead of being mad of us for making such big changes in their lives, they might appreciate the thought and emotion that went into our decisions.