It bothers me a bit that the defining moments of my generation seem to be catastrophes - Space Shuttles exploding and terrorist attacks rather than celebratory events like putting a man on the moon. Today being 9/11 it’s impossible to start the day out without reminiscing and honoring the memory of those who lost their lives or were otherwise affected by the attacks of 9 years ago. But there’s more to the story.
Nine years ago I was in corporate America, working at a large local office furniture manufacturer. I remember people standing up in their cubes, and the TV news being displayed on a large wall monitor that usually displayed IT Call Center statistics. On this day it was instead tuned to the news, and work slowly stopped as we all tried to take in what had happened (and was still happening). The replays of the airplanes crashing into buildings will be forever etched on my mind.
I encourage you to take a moment to stop and pray for, remember, and honor those still affected by the events of that day. Regardless of your political or religious views there are kids and spouses who’ve had 9 years of being without a loved one, there are those still physically suffering from injuries, and there are those knocked off a path of “normality” doomed to suffer a lifetime of nightmares and mental issues.
As I write this I fear that what I’m about to say will look like I’m trying to minimize or make light of the events of 9/11 and that surely isn’t the case. Rather, my purpose for writing this post is just to show that in spite of the intent of those attacks there are stories of positive things happening in the aftermath.
For us, I can make a direct correlation from the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 to our being able to take a year-long road trip adventure.
The 9/11 attacks significantly affected the office furniture industry. By the time the following April had rolled around my employer was going through the 3rd round of significant layoffs, and I was included. I tried to find another job, but only found project work. Faced with the alternative of putting the house on the market and moving my family to another state, I took the project work and started Boyink Interactive. Being that I could work anywhere with an internet connection, this step really made us location-independent. We just didn’t realize it right away. I worked for clients around the world but stayed in my West Michigan basement. A few years pass, my kids grow into pre-teens, and I start using this piece of software called ExpressionEngine.
In response to seeing a need for EE training, I started Train-ee.com. That effort led to doing classroom training. The classroom training got us traveling again. Doing that traveling we realized we could land in a strange city and figure things out. After a couple of trips we felt a desire to travel more as a family - for a number of reasons but not the least of which is that it would offer our kids an amazing addition to the home-based education we’ve been providing them.
Thus the Adventure was born. Would we have arrived at this point if the attacks of 9/11 had not happened? I can’t say for sure, but my gut feeling is no. I think we would have stayed in the “steady paycheck, good dental, 3 weeks of vacation a year” comfort zone.
Again, my intent is not to minimize the events of this day nine years ago. But I can look at the trailer taking shape in my driveway, at the still-getting-organized mess in the basement, at the mostly-empty living room, at the maps and charts tacked up by our dining room table, and make a direct connection to those terrorist attacks.
And it makes me smile. One of those smiles that’s usually accompanied by the showing of a middle finger.
But I would never do that….