Recently while on a walk at the Emeryville Marina with my friend Leslie and her son, my nearly three year-old friend Dean, the conversation turned, as it so often does, to travel. Strolling by the boats, Leslie said, “What do you think Dean; what if you, Daddy and me got on a boat and sailed around the world?” Dean’s response, without missing a beat, “Let’s go!” In a second I was transported back in time to my little brother’s face staring up at me urging, “Yet’s go Yanna, yet’s go!” to whatever our next adventure was. And just as quickly I was back, wondering when that beautiful sense of spontaneity begins to be tempered by practicality.
A few weeks later while visiting my family in Arizona, I spoke with my seven year-old nephew Ryan, my brother’s son. “So what do you think about going on an adventure with Auntie Lorna tomorrow while your parents are at work?” Without hesitation he replied, “Sure, ever been to Chicago?” I tried not to laugh, I really did, and I hated having to explain why this wasn’t a good plan. Why wasn’t it? It sounded good to me. It just wasn’t practical. That night before he went to bed, I asked if he’d given any more thought to what he’d like to do. “Hollywood” he said matter-of-factly.
The truth is, I don’t want to say no to these suggestions. I don’t want to teach them why you can’t just hop on a plane, boat, train, bus, etcetera, to go somewhere you want to go. In fact, I want to meet them where they are, and have them remind me that I may be the one who’s got it wrong.
So what lessons am I going to take from these tiny teachers?
What Ryan and I settled on that day in Arizona was a trip to the Arizona Science Center. To my amazement, he rode a bicycle forward and backward across a tightrope 2 stories-high, and lay on a bed of nails with only his head protected. 1. Adventures can be had right where you are. I’m making a local-centric wanted-to-but-never-did list and I’m going to start doing them before I take off so that even being at home is filled with adventure.
On another recent walk in the redwoods (or as Dean more accurately describes them the “greenwoods”) at Joaquin Miller Park we reached an impasse. Leslie asked Dean, the leader, if he’d like to take the path on the left or the one on the right. Dean’s answer was neither but straight ahead up a hill without a path. When Leslie explained that we may want to choose one of the established paths so we wouldn’t get lost, Dean replied, “We won’t get lost, we’ll just use our ‘maginations!” 2. Trust your ability to be resourceful and take risks that ultimately make you bolder. I’m going to be sure, during my round the world trip that I’m more whimsical and spontaneous than I am calculated, planned out, and cautious. Where will I go first? Next? How long will I stay? Who knows! I’ll use my “magination.”
Finally, in the spirit of Ryan, Dean, and other pure adventurers like them, 3. Allow yourself to be “impractical” for an ultimate thrill. Someday, sooner than later, I’m going to show up at the airport, train station, or bus station without knowing where I’m going. Sure, for those of us who aren’t millionaires, it may be too impractical to do all the time, but it can be done. And who knows, maybe I’ll end up in Chicago.
How about you? What adventures have you had in your own town? Ever take off spontaneously without a plan? What have the kids in your life taught you about travel? Tell us about it!