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I want to be a spy ....

by Tom Johnson on Jun 26, 2011 •
categories: family

I told Avery tonight that I want to be a spy, and asked for her advice. I said it half jokingly, because it seems ridiculous, only an idea from watching too many spy movies on TV. Still, life as a technical writer is pretty boring. I want more.

Avery said I probably am just interested in mystery and adventure. She noted that it would be hard to be a spy and also have a family, and she is certainly right about that. She pretty much said I can't be a spy, but we decided that I could look for mystery and adventure in other ways. So tonight as I was caulking the basement windows, I listened to Patrick O'Brian's maritime adventure novels. O'Brian was recommended to me by both my father and Kurt Hills, my former manager. It's supposed to be a gripping and well-written adventure at sea.

In listening to it, I realized that Avery was right -- I really don't want to be a spy, I just need a little more adventure in my life. Perhaps adventure in small doses would be enough to satisfy my drive to be a spy.

I mentioned this briefly to Shannon, and really what we should have done is never settled down and bought a house. When we traveled in Egypt and Japan, that was adventure. We could have kept traveling all over the world, perhaps, if we hadn't bought a house and a couple of cars and if I didn't have a looming student debt. Perhaps I should make a plan to reduce it all and free myself, and then travel the world with Shannon. But I fear that this will never really happen, because we're upside down in our house and I actually really like my job. It pays well and is probably more than I would get elsewhere. And while traveling is fun, it's hard on kids who are growing up and need a stable community and school.

I tried to recapture some of the adventure through my adventure walks, but they weren't so popular, and it ultimately just consists of adventure in nature, which is all right but gets to be somewhat similar after a while. I want to do more than hike.

So what is a family man spy to do to get adventure into his life? It will be 17 years before the last child is out of the house. By then most of our debt will be paid off, and we can travel more liberally. But by then, we may be so stuck in our ways that any radical changes will seem unappealing. Tom and Danielle, now empty nesters, have continued in their frugal, homebody ways even now that they have the time and possibility of travel. When you live your life a certain way for 30+ years, you usually get so accustomed to certain habits and ways of life, when restrictions lift and the possibility for change arises, you don't take it.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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