Each day, I drive 100 miles to and from my job. With 500 new miles on my odometer at the end of every week, I don’t find myself longing to travel as much as I’m used to. I’m already in transit quite enough these days, thankyouverymuch.
What made you want to travel?
For me, it was learning about the Loch Ness Monster. In the middle of a childhood defined by fiction books, I distinctly remember sitting at a table in the back of my third-grade classroom, looking at the famous surgeon’s photo in a book, and realizing this was a place that really existed (even if maybe the monster did not).
Twelve years later on a cold and rainy February afternoon, I stood on the banks of Loch Ness itself, looking for the monster and drinking some tea. Life rewards us that way sometimes.
If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you might know I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. My first day there, while waiting for my cousin (of October 27th fame) and her fiancé to get home from work, I stopped by The Continental for coffee.
But in Philly, nothing stands on its own. There’s always history. And on the Continental building was a Historic Sites in Journalism plaque explaining that, way back in the late 18th century, this was John Dunlap’s printing shop.
What, you don’t know John Dunlap? He’s only the printer who first stamped out distributable copies of the Declaration of Independence.
Langston Hughes wrote a famous poem about a dream deferred. I’ve been reciting it in my head a lot during the past month, ever since reality hit in Scotland and it became clear that the pursuit of my sheep farm dream was ending up far unlike I had, well, dreamed it would.
But this poem—a brilliant piece of art, go read it if you don’t know it—is about putting off a dream. As Hughes writes, when we put off our dreams, they can dry up, fester, or even explode. It’s scary to put off dreams. But we do it anyway.
Twice during my travels this past month, my ring finger was commented on.
Because that’s a thing strangers get to do, apparently.
Today a friend tagged me in a Facebook video of Jim Carrey. In it, he says,
Risk being seen in all your glory. . . . Fear is writing the script, and the working title is I’ll Never Be Enough. . . . How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide?
All month, my working title has been I’ll Never Be Enough, as I’ve managed to fail at everything they’ve given me to do, and at even understanding them half the time. But today, on my penultimate day of volunteering, I have figured out what they need that my talent can provide.
I am very, very hesitant to travel with others. So many of my travels have been alone, which I’ve loved. When something goes wrong (because things always go wrong when I travel), I don’t have to worry about anyone else. I can go out and meet new people when I need a friend, but I can always get away when I need to be alone. Traveling with someone else can be terrifying.
And yet I’ve broken this rule several times. Continue reading
You can thank my BFF for today’s post. She told me I really needed to blog about my treasure map I created last year, and she’s right. It’s the whole reason I’m headed where I am right now, and it was inspired by, of all things, a presentation about end-of-life care.
You see, about a year ago, I got to hear the famous doctor and author Atul Gawande speak at my workplace. His books have inspired many changes in the world of medicine, and his talk that day inspired me. He discussed his newest book, Being Mortal, which is, in part, about end-of-life care. He told us he’s learned to stop talking at his hospice patients and instead asks them four simple questions, questions with the goal of giving that patient their Very Best Day, each day that they have left:
- What is your perception of your condition?
- What are your biggest fears and concerns?
- What goals are most important to you?
- What trade-offs are you willing to make?
I turned to my friend and whispered, “Forget hospice. These are the questions we all need to ask ourselves every day of our lives.”