Book Review: One Year Off

One Year Off

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I’m wrestling with some wanderlust as we have shifted into this new season of adventure for our family. We’re having a blast and learning so much frolicking all around the Pacific Northwest and yet, the rest of the world is calling to me – family travel.

As part of our life of adventures we often find ourselves on long car rides. I don’t mind it at all because it’s all about the journey, not the destination, right? The beautiful scenery, the impromptu stops, and the podcasting. Listening to podcasts while I drive without my copilot/husband is one piece to my self care that provides a lot of learning and inspiration. The Family Adventure Podcast is my favorite and one afternoon, driving through the countryside after a fun, reptile-filled day with friends, they recommend the book One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen.

It was such a pleasure to read. He brings us along on the journey as he trips across the globe with his family, describing the places, people, and scenery in full, descriptive color. It was exactly what I had hoped, allowing me to peek in on another family’s world traveling adventures, fears, hopes, and realities. Chobe National Park safari in Botswana, Burgundy canal houseboat in France, Great Barrier Reef in Australia . . . yes please.

The biggest downside from my perspective would be the parenting. They brought along their nanny, walked their kid on a leash or pushed him in a stroller, and couldn’t wait to get their kids back in school. It seems they wanted to get out of the rat race but they couldn’t quite join with their children fully in connection. Often the kids felt like more of an inconvenience. They were firmly in the mainstream parenting mindset and perspective but he clearly loves his children and always seemed to be trying. (He needed some Sage Coaching to adjust his parenting compass.)

I wish it was a photo book! Having his photos peppered throughout the chapters would have really brought the story to life for me and since his background was in creating photo books, I’m sure it would have been a cinch for him.

The afterword is tragic. My jaw dropped and I felt so sad and yet, I think it was an important addition to the book. Walking us through how the trip changed him long-term and how that played out with his work and family was hard to read but valuable. While the beginning of the book is hopeful and rebellious, the end is depressing. “The sad thing, though, is I know this can’t last. Every day in this country we’re bombarded bay an relenting torrent of advertising and promotion all designed to make us spend more, use more, waste more. It’s everywhere you look and listen, and it would take a great deal of spiritual strength to swim against the cultural stream-particularly when you have children. I doubt we’ll be the ones to do it.”

I think an important lesson in his story is that taking “one year off” won’t change you or your life for the better for the long haul in and of itself. I would say that is the biggest difference between the style of travel I want to incorporate and his. It’s right there in the title. I don’t want to live like an asshole and take a little break. I strive every day to be the person I want to be, build the relationships I want to foster, live the life I want to walk, and create the world I want for my children. Travel isn’t an escape, it’s a layer of experience.

Have you read it? Grab a copy and share your thoughts in a comment below!

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