In the last two columns I've remarked on how quickly things can change, and that a sense of urgency is oftentimes the difference between realized and unrealized travel dreams -- or dreams of any kind, really.
This does not mean you need to run out and do things you cannot afford, or make no realistic sense. I want to dip my toes into the Arctic Ocean. But it's not a "drop everything, do it NOW" target. It's just something I'm planning to do before I die. That noted, it has to have a place in the overall planning for my trips and activities over the next handful of years.
But sometimes life throws curves at you that make you realize that certain things should not be put off. That putting them off becomes a commitment NOT to do them. Nor does just "wishing" you could someday do something contribute much towards actually doing it.
What has to occur -- and this is more your internal battle than anything happening in the "real" world -- is for you to commit to certain steps to accomplish the next thing on your agenda. And having a reminder that our stay here is not an extended one can give you that sense of urgency.
Since 2010 we have been on a tear. We do not have children, and so it became almost a game to see how much we could check off our Life Lists during any given year. Our usual gambit is for one big trip and several smaller trips throughout the year. This doesn't include any of my business trips, nor does it include "weekenders" in which I might take off up into the desert or up the coast on my own, just for a photo safari or to get "away from it all".
The timing was opportune in ways we could not at that point have even grasped, but gave strong truth to the need to do things NOW.
Three years ago we received medical news which increased our sense of urgency. It was not of the immediate "you have six months" variety, but it reinforced we are not immortal and need to double down on accomplishing those things which feature prominently on our list of intended adventures. (The nature of the news is also irrelevant. Friends who need to know, know.)
So we asked ourselves: what is important in life?
And among the several answers which came immediately to mind -- love, family, friendship -- was an urgent sense of adventure and discovery about our world. There were -- and still are -- things we NEED to see and do in life which (we hope) enriches us and our lives in ways that are important.
And so we ramped up what had already been a fairly solid schedule of things we wanted to accomplish as soon as possible. And we did a LOT. Shortly I will publish a recap of our last decade of travel, and it's a doozy. Better than anyone could possibly hope for.
In less than a week we're off on the last Grand Adventure, at least for a year or so. A cruise through the Panama Canal. With notable exceptions -- Wind Star -- we tend to avoid cruises unless we're going with friends, as we are in this case. But cruising the Panama Canal, which has been an ambition of mine since I was a young boy, cannot be accomplished without boarding something, and a cruise ship -- medium-sized, seems like the most graceful way to accomplish this.
As with all of our trips, items will be checked off our respective lists. Obviously cruising the canal will be. Also our first time setting foot on South America. My fifth continent, my wife's fourth. We'll add Guatemala and Colombia to our countries list. My ambition is to photograph much of our journey, and probably capture a few martinis along the way.
So now it's almost time to stop, take a rest to regain health -- and assess the world from a different perspective. The recently retitled "Daily Escape" will continue to publish for the two weeks we're out of the country. I promise a full accounting upon our return.
Time to revisit the No Opportunity Wasted Life Lists and revise them with new goals for the coming decade. I'll publish mine when it's ready fro Prime Time.
It's been a blast, and so much more to come. I have a couple more essays to publish -- including an open letter to Phil Keoghan, creator of No Opportunity Wasted, which has changed our lives in a number of ways-- and then will see you in a few weeks.