We have been procrastinating so long to tell you about Arizona that now it feels almost impossible to share what was on our minds back then. But I will try to bring back some thoughts from there to the Bay Area, where we are now.
First, we loved the Museum of Musical Instruments in Phoenix, which had instruments from the whole world. Also, the whole world included Lithuania, so that was exciting too! :D However, the Lithuanian exhibition was weak. Hey Lithuanians in Arizona, that's a great art project for the local community!
It is high season for Phoenix and booking an RV park is hard out there at the moment. It is especially hard with all the retired baby boomers who do not even let anyone under 55 into their parks. I wonder what they do in their exclusive, age-restricted parks ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But we managed to find a spot for a couple of weeks and even do the opposite of what is sensible - instead of staying in warm and sunny Phoenix, we flew to Vancouver, where it is rainy and cold.
It felt like a vacation. We lived in an apartment, had reliable and fast internet and Netflix. Also, the food in Vancouver is so delicious, affordable and accessible that we did not cook even once. Food adventures for me and Vėjas, getting along with new teammates for Lukas. On the other hand, even though it is comfortable living in an apartment in a big city, it is too easy to isolate yourself from the stimulation of the outside world. It felt boring after a while since there is not much to do in the city when you have children.
Secondly, thoughts about stereotypes were constantly on my mind. When we hit the border of Arizona, we drove into deep winter, below freezing temperatures in the mountains and so much snow on side roads, that we could not even walk through it, not to mention driving even with a 4x4. It was not what we thought Arizona would be - a state with a cactus on its license plate. The same happened in Texas which was so green and humid in the beginning, remember? The feeling of being surprised by the unexpected is engaging. It encourages to be curious, explore and stay open-minded about the surroundings.
Additional thoughts about stereotypes came when we were listening to "How to Raise Successful People" by Esther Wojcicki on the road. It writes about a Palo Alto high school teacher, who shares her methods on how to raise independent children, who eventually become successful. In the book, success was associated only with high level positions at large companies - a stereotypical measurement.
Last week, I visited my job and found out that one well known entrepreneur brings his kid to dance to our studio and of course the reaction was: WHAT? WHEN? WHO? Afterwards, I started to joke with Lukas about what people might be gossiping about at the studio as well: Vėjas is a child of a man, who is happy about his life; Vėjas is a son of a woman who enjoys doing what she does. Shocking, right?
With this silly joke, I began to break down the stereotype of success for myself. Initially, we left our jobs with ideas to start some kind of business or make another big thing which we would get a pat on our shoulder for. And now I realize that just enjoying our trip from day to day is joyful enough. Enough to feel successful, that we were able to plan things and leave for this trip. Having this ability to travel and enjoy it is quite a success for me.
Even if eventually we found the locations with stereotypical cacti in Arizona, or tumbleweeds in Texas desert, and even if for some people the success of becoming a CEO of a profitable business defines success in life, I am very open to wonder what else is there for me and my family. I want to engage with my surroundings and look for broader ways to define success.