Peter and I recently transferred a few old videos to DVDs, so instead of being bored by the same-old TV shows after dinner, we are watching the exciting adventures of Family Sijswerda. We took these videos during our six-month trek through Europe in 1998. It was a dream trip—no real agenda, just a rough plan to go camping for six months along the coasts of Europe. We toured Italy, Greece, France, Spain, and Portugal. The boys were the perfect ages for this kind of trip: Scott was 11, Jasper was 8, and Ross was 2 1/2.
I homeschooled the older boys and based most of our lessons on the places we passed through. We studied Romeo and Juliet when we stayed near Verona, covered all the Greek gods when we travelled through Greece, learned about Renoir in the south of France—you get the drift. It was like school coming to life for our kids.
What I am finding as we watch these videos—besides I wore the baggiest jeans ever on that trip—is how enthusiastic and well behaved the children were. As you can imagine, visiting touristy sites with young kids requires keeping a constant eye on their whereabouts. Places like the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, and La Ramblas in Barcelona were packed with people, so sticking together was often challenging. I love watching how the big brothers looked out for each other and kept an eye on their little brother, who loved to take off whenever we unbuckled him from his stroller.
It’s also fun to see younger versions of Peter and me—even though I wince at some of the clothes I wore. I’m so glad we captured this amazing journey on video since an adventure like this only comes once in a lifetime.
Hmm, maybe, maybe not. Peter and I entertain ourselves all the time with talk of the Future: where we’ll go, what we’ll do, and how we’ll live. He’s still a Dutch citizen, so we fantasize about living in Europe. Then we consider how good we have it here in the U.S. and think why would we ever leave? We’re like a yoyo, contemplating the future, and as we vacillate between this scenario and that, the years pass by, don’t they?
Our latest dream plan is to buy a riverboat in Europe and boat through the continent’s canals and waterways. We’ll have bicycles on board and, when we dock at little villages along the way, we’ll hop on our bikes and stock up on provisions. Then maybe we’ll stop at a café for a simple meal of paté and crusty bread and a glass of local wine.
It’s fun to dream, isn’t it? I truly believe that our purpose in life is to pursue our dreams. And if for some reason you don’t feel passionate about life right now, then consider something that makes you feel fulfilled. Maybe it’s volunteering at the hospital, or reading stories to kids, or hiking in the woods. Think about how to include more of those moments in your life. When you create opportunities for fulfillment, then guess what? Doors open—and your life can take on new meaning.
Living a fulfilling life begins with a dream. From there, all you have to do is take the first step. Good luck on your journey!
P.S. - I wrote about my family’s European adventure in my book, Still Life with Sierra. Buy it on Amazon or send $15 to TW’s address on p. 3, and I’ll send you an autographed copy!