Destinations Magazine

Escaping Shawshank and Finding Redemption

By Kenin Bassart @Constantramble

Celebrating four years of being nomadic this month seems so surreal to me. For those of you that don’t know, or haven’t read our manifesto, Kenin and I both came from a retail work background and left our jobs after breaking down and nearly divorcing. We were working crazy hours and making great money, but we hardly ever saw each other. To make matters worse, when we did get time together, we spent it being exhausted and cranky. Neither of us ever planned on having a life full of money and status, but we worked hard and climbed that corporate ladder like there was a fire chasing us upward.

Eventually we found that we were utterly miserable and at a breaking point, so we made the choice to just walk away from it all. We embarked on a 30-day road trip to save our marriage and our sanity and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to go back to the back-breaking retail world and the consumerism that peddled it. Our marriage was more important to the both of us than the amount of money in our bank account. It became time for a major change.

We’ve been through quite a bit of ups and downs in our lives, and that’s still the most shining example of us “Dufresning it”.

When Kenin refers to getting out of any sticky situation in life he likes to refer to it as “Andy Dufresning” it. This is a reference to the main character, Andy Dufresne, from the Shawshank Redemption. When he escaped from Shawshank prison, Andy swam through a river of shit and came out “clean” on the other end, hence the coining of one of our favorite terms, “Defresning It”.

Kenin and Lauren ready to go

“You either get busy living or get busy dying.”

When we first met back in the year 2000 we had a simple plan: We wanted to live a happy and fulfilling life together. Our marriage started off very strong as we shared a deep love and the same outlook on life. We encouraged and sometimes even pushed each other to accomplish bigger and better things both in and outside of the work place. Over time though, these promotions and changes drove us farther and father apart. We spent less quality time together and at one point didn’t even have enough free time to spend the money we were making. We were amassing funds and didn’t have the time to take proper vacations when we did have time off. It got so bad that we would take trips and end up just taking long naps and recuperating from long work hours instead of hitting the towns, seeing the sights, and enjoying each other. You can imagine why we decided to walk away from that life.

After our 30-day road trip we decided to take some extended leave and travel some more, rebuild our relationship, and reconnect with ourselves. We had saved all of this money and now was the time to spend some of it. We don’t have children so we didn’t need to keep funds for college and the idea of saving for retirement seems folly if you miss out on your whole life just to save up for retirement and only enjoy life when you are old and frail.

As the time came to go return from our extended leave, the thought of going back to regular jobs started haunting our last days on the road. The closer we traveled to home, the more depressed we both became. We started getting snippy with each other and the whole energy of our adventure turned sour. That’s when we realized that going back to retail was no longer an option if we wanted to keep our marriage and our lives happy and healthy. We decided that we were going to start a website and give it everything we had. We were both accustomed to hard work and long hours. Why not invest that time and energy into our own business, invest in our own lives, and invest in each other !?

shawshank

After almost four years of travel through the lower 48 and a few Canadian provinces, I don’t think we will ever be able to return to the world we once lived in before we escaped our prison. We’ve given up mass consumerism, we don’t buy anything new unless our old things are broken. We also try to buy as much as we can from thrift shops and second hand stores. Everything we own fits into our VW GTI. The only thing we seem to collect en masse is friends. We have pockets of them all over the globe.

We left the regular work force to create a life together and build something we could both be proud of. After many years on the road, and using this journey to not only explore our inner selves, but also the multitude of different lives one can choose to live, we’ve realized that it’s not the just the travel that is so important us. It’s the lessons we learned while we were on the road and the fantastic, supportive, loving folks we spent our time with along the way. As we’ve traveled we managed to surround ourselves with love and adventure. We spent many nights on couches or in guest rooms of loved ones. Our lives have been injected with so much positivity and support.

The journey thus far has taught us a powerful lesson: It’s not at all about escaping life, but rather embracing it and loving all of the people we encounter. No more Defurensing life. I’m no longer running away from the past. I am now running toward a brighter and happier future.

This year we made the decision to rebuild our lives and have decided that it’s time to go full speed ahead and build ourselves a new place to call home. For us, 2016  is the year of building: stronger friendships, a better home (so everyone can visit us for a change), and most importantly, a marriage that no job, no person, no life event can break down, a marriage that can withstand anything. When love is on your side, you can conquer any obstacle.


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