Friday, May 22, 2009

Travel, bearing witness and taking on life's chances.....

Sometimes I cannot believe how blessed I have been in my life to have had so many opportunities to travel and to have witnessed some of the things I have seen.....

Along the way I have been to exotic and ordinary places; cities decimated by the poverty of the ordinary folk and the greed of a powerful government and army. I have looked into the eyes of a dying man as he tapped on the sealed car windows, begging for pennies at the roadside. Within seconds the lights had changed and my car sped off, taking me to sail on a luxury yacht where people were sipping champagne and dipping strawberries in chocolate. I had no appetite, I couldn't forget his eyes. I have seen the most elegantly bejewelled ladies dressed in brocades spun with real gold, standing next to women in rags holding an infant to their breast. I have seen breathtakingly beautiful beaches with palm trees and mountain backdrops, after having to pass by corrugated tin built slums where 12 people live in hovels which they share with cockroaches and rats. I once gave a child an apple, which I thought was better for her than money and I was immediately inundated with starving children saying "Me please, me please please!!", I had no idea where they came from and felt woefully inadequate, unable to offer them a single thing. Sadly, I have spoken to far too many people who were enthralled by the prospect of travel, but, didn't even own a passport, have never left their home state or country in their lifetime and live their dream through others.

And many times I have wondered, "Why them and not me?" It is a question which has kept me awake at night and made me cry myself to sleep. As the years go by I still have no answer, but, know that I am eternally grateful for the life I have had so far and all the chances that I have been given and taken.

One of my son's friends got me thinking about all this today (thank you, young man xx). He recently gave up his regular job after university term ended and took a very brave step by travelling to Hawaii alone, for the summer. He knew no one and did not have a job, but took the chance anyway. He wrote to his friends recently and tried to explain the reason behind the decision to make such a bold move, he did this by quoting an email he had received from his dad. He then urged all his friends to think about what he had said. Here it the note to his friends:

This is an email my Dad sent me, and I thought I'd share it as insight to the reason why I decided to take this trip. With two weeks under my belt, the gravity of the situation has hit me, but I thought about the locals I play basketball with every night, the people at my new job, and of course my amazing sister and all of her amazing friends, and I realize that I've made this place my own. So without further ado:

"Co-worker just left so I thought I might send you a quick note. Every day at work, and I mean each and every day, several people come up to me and ask me a lot of questions all about your latest island adventures. They hang on my every word and I am always the first to break it off or I would never get my work done. At first I wondered why they were so interested, as you know I do not like to talk a lot, but they were intent to squeeze every detail out of me. It finally occurred to me that you are living the dream they had, but were not bold enough to embrace. I am so proud of you as not many people have the courage to travel 4,000 miles away, to a new land, where they don't know a soul. I am finding out that many people spend the rest of their lives wishing that they had taken on the type of adventure that you are living. I guarantee you that things will not always go well in your life but remember that "Living well is the best revenge" and Hawaii living is the best.You will look back on your island adventure with relish, just like I do, and you will never have to know the misery of those poor timid souls, who approach me every day and spend the rest of their life wishing........................... "If only I had"..."

It just blew me away! Not only the letter from a father to a son, but, the fact that the son urged his friends to read it. An action, in and of itself, meant to encourage them to look carefully at life's chances and live a dream should chance come along. He is a brave and wise young man and has a great mentor in his dad. I am so glad he is a friend of my son's.

And, if there is an answer for the question "Why them and not me?" perhaps it lies somewhere in this letter.

My next post will be about some excellent travel books I have read, but, that's I'm still thinking of taking life's chances.


  1. want add u msn

  2. hmm... inspiring thought provoking mind blowing instalment to your always interesting blogs. Thankyou for making me think deeper beyond than the trivia of everyday life. xx

  3. This is a wonderful post and so, so true, thank you for taking the time to write it.

  4. Thank you, Dot. I felt compelled to post it. Just finished My Cousin Rachel, BTW, thank you for the recommendation, thoroughly enjoyed it. Will review soon. Hope the wedding plans are going well.