By the time we reach our late twenties to early thirties, the majority of us have already made most of life’s momentous decisions regarding careers, where to call home, life partners, children, etc. At which point, we merge onto life’s heavily-traveled highways and switch our lives over into cruise control and then, to varying degrees of satisfaction and fulfillment, stay within the confines of those white lines for the remainder of our life’s journey. Some folks — soon after slipping into the flow of traffic –find themselves trapped, and in order to escape, they must abruptly change lanes and risk causing all sorts of havoc in the traffic pattern of those who’d been traveling with them, including leaving some wrecked alongside the road.
There are some — not many — however, who — before it’s too late — resist the cruise control button and, anticipating the safe but predictable drive ahead or simply wanting to explore a different path, skillfully maneuver their way out of the patterned traffic before it’s too late and make their way to an exit and an adventure far from the well-traveled highway. Two such risk-takers and skilled drivers are my colleagues, friends, and beautiful souls: Lucas Kennedy and Bobby Good.
After completing his sixth year of secondary math instruction at Port Clinton High School and working through ISS Schrole Advantage, Lucas has accepted a teaching position at the George Washington Academy in Casablanca, Morocco, of classic movie fame. When I asked him why, Lucas said, after living his entire life in a small town, it was time to “switch it up,” to get out of his “comfort zone,” and to travel to exotic places. Although Lucas admits his current life includes “great people, a great home, and work I enjoy,” it was a good life [not great life], and he had settled for the “familiar, comfortable, and routine.” He could see the road he was traveling and, sadly, predict exactly what lie ahead on that road. Still in his late twenties, Lucas says, “I was slowly turning into a 60-year-old version of me that I didn’t want to be.”
In his own words: “I’m at a point in my life where I am confident enough to throw up a middle finger to that 60-year-old me who lived a comfortable life and say that I am coming for more . . . I want to be more. I want to see more. I want to do more. And I know that all of what I want in life is in my control. My life is a result of the decisions and actions I make . . .. So I’ve decided to sprint towards being am adventurer-extrovert-outdoorsmen-photographer with many other talents and interests. I’ll chase the comforts later in life.”
Although young, Lucas is not naive and admits, “I have spurts of anxiety, leaving . . . . friends, family, and work. It’s a really good life. However, I don’t feel as if there’s a lot of risk.” He concedes that “Port Clinton is truly special . . .. Six years ago, it was just a town down the road from where I grew up. Now and forever, Port Clinton is my home.”
Lucas will be sorely missed in Port Clinton as a friend, coach, and teacher, but this life choice may be the best lesson he has or ever will teach: We all only have one life, and before we decide to settle down and, perhaps, share it with others, it’s necessary to live selfishly for a while so that, when the time comes to merge into the mainstream, we can do so contentedly with our eyes ahead able to enjoy the drive without looking ruefully at all of the missed exits.
“Here’s looking at you, kid. We’ll always have [Port Clinton].
Bobby has been the engineering technology instructor at PCHS for eleven years. He’s every woman’s dream: the good-with-his-hands, tall, dark, and handsome contractor/designer type as seen on HGTV.
This July, Bobby; his wife, Pookie; and two children are moving to Bangkok, Thailand, where he will be teaching at the VERSO International School setting up a robotics program and Makerspace, which according to weareteachers.com is a “room that contains tools and components, allowing students to enter with an idea and leave with a complete project. The best part is that makerspaces are communal. The goal is to work together to learn, collaborate, and share. Most importantly, makerspaces allow us to explore, create new things, or improve things that already exist.” These are two programs Bobby has pioneered at PCHS with great success.
As to his motivation for making such a life-altering move, Bobby says, “My wife is from Thailand and it’s always been our dream to move there with the kids. As Americans we often say we’re German, Italian or part this and that. We buy DNA tests to confirm or to our surprise realize our ancestry. Are we really these things though? So few of us continue any traditions or speak any of the languages of our distant relatives. I’m no different. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of my great grandfathers coming to the US, where they’re from and so on. This opportunity gives my children that connection which so many of us have lost but desire . . . Providing my children with this level of awareness of the world around them is a priority of mine.”
I was inspired by Bobby’s answer when I asked if he felt as if he were “running to” or “running from something”: “I suppose we all are running to or from something. If I dig down deep inside, I’d say I’m running from the comfortable routine.” Like many in education and other fields, Bobby feels he has become enslaved by his own successes: “I’ve designed a makerspace, learned new equipment, implemented new teaching practices, found new student projects and started and participated in so many extra curricular activities. I feel the weight of what I have accomplished heavy on my shoulders as I’ve continued in my position.” Unlike most, however, Bobby appears brave enough to steer toward that exit I mentioned in the introduction and correctly — I think — recognizes there are risks involved, but there are also many who are “politely envious, wishing they could escape to an adventure but feel the restraint of their spouses, career, family ties, or taking a big leap.”
Like Lucas, Bobby is keenly aware of what he is leaving behind: “It’s accurate to say our closest friends are our family. We’re going to miss annual clam bakes, family gatherings, Thanksgivings, Halloweens, weddings, birthdays, births, surgeries and funerals. This will weigh heavy on our minds.” For now, however, Bobby is clearly content with his decision: “My wife is from Thailand and it’s always been our dream to move there with the kids.” And I especially love this: “Seizing this opportunity will keep me uncomfortable. Right where I want to be.” Brilliant, Bobby!
Both Lucas and Bobby will be greatly missed, but I say, good on ya, boys! As I once wrote, “If all I ever did in life was what was safe and without risk, what would I ever do?” You both inspire me to , as Carbon Leaf sings, “live a life less ordinary.”
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