27 Feb Explore, dream, discover: catch the trade winds in your sails
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain
As I get older this Twain quote resonates more strongly with me than ever. I have always loved to see what was around the next corner, discover new people, concepts, or traditions, but when I was younger there was always a sense that there was plenty of time to do so.
Now when I realize how old I will be in 20 years, I hope I am still traveling, but realistically this is the time to do it. I can’t count on being able to travel as freely in twenty years as I can now. I certainly don’t want to wake up and regret that I opted to stay home because it was safer, more familiar or “more sensible”.
Twain’s advice is to throw off all my excuses not to travel. That is wonderful advice, but quickly the “buts” tumble into my mind: it will be harder to work remotely, it is expensive, I have dental work I should attend to before I travel any more… So how can I overcome those objections and not be in the position of regretting my decision to travel when the bills come due?
Firstly, we live in a world where it is comparatively easy to operate with a laptop (or even a smart phone and wifi) and submit work, consult with clients, consult on projects and tutor via Facetime or Skype. I seldom need to be in the same time zone as the people who pay me.
Secondly, travel is always going to be more expensive than staying at home, but there are ways to offset some of the costs. I could rent my home via AirBnB and make money from the otherwise empty home, or I could utilize one of the vacation home swap sites so my living costs in the new destination are lessened. I also have travel alerts set up so I can see when transatlantic flights become less expensive. Last year I discovered that what were called “Youth Hostels” now have single rooms, and the demographic in residence off season is more Boomer than Millennial.
Thirdly, the dental work needs doing. It is my decision whether I make it a priority or travel a priority. I can’t put my life on hold and use dental work as an excuse to remain safely in my comfort zone. Providing I have the OK from my dentist to postpone the work until I return, there really is no reason why it should stop me from going. I simply need to do more work while I’m away so i have the money for the dental work on my return.
I think the key here is Twain’s command to “Sail away from the safe harbor”. It is easy to find excuses not to travel – it can be a hassle, after all – but we don’t expand our horizons by staying where it is safe. We fall into a rut of comfortable sameness. There are times when this is exactly what we need, but such times seldom provide fond memories we can look back on when we can no longer travel. I doubt I’ll ever think fondly of doing laundry or vacuuming, but I do look back fondly on places I’ve been, beauty I’ve witnessed, and people I’ve met along the way.
How about you? Are you ready to “catch the trade winds in your sails?”. I’m ready to go and explore! The laundry will still be here when I get back. Explore. Dream. Discover.