Photos by Richard Schear and Kay Davies, Costa Rica, 2007
The moral of this story should be immediately clear, but in case you’re having one of those days when the obvious doesn’t jump out at you (I have lots of those days), let me state the moral right up front.
It is better to go than not to go.
Enlarging upon that unpretty little sentence: If someone offers you a travel opportunity, you may regret it if you don’t go, but you aren’t likely to regret it if you do go. It still doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue, does it? So you might want to make it easier for yourself by borrowing a well-known phrase from The Bard: “To be or not to be?”
Because, really, that is the question.
When my husband, flush from his successful exploration (within the boundaries set for tourists) of Charles Darwin’s eye-opening Galapagos Islands, suddenly announced he wanted to go on a wilderness adventure trip to Costa Rica, I suggested he go without me.
“You’ll have more fun if I’m not there to slow you down,” I reasoned. “Go ahead,” I insisted, “I don’t mind.”
“I don’t want to go without you,” he replied.
Aww, that’s sweet. Many a husband would agree, then promptly make a reservation for himself, or decide to take his son instead. My husband only has daughters, and he didn’t immediately suggest taking one of them. Neither did I (more on this subject in another chapter).
“I really don’t want to go if you don’t,” he repeated, “but, you know, they have monkeys.” (Pause while that sinks in.)
“And they have sloths.”
Well, now, sloths I can relate to. Big time.
So I had my own answer. I knew I would regret staying home and never seeing sloths.
This, then, is part of the moral of the story. If you’d regret missing the Louvre when you had the chance; if you’d hate yourself forever for saying no to the Northern Lights; if you’d cry because you never saw dolphins – then don’t miss the opportunity when it is offered.
If the opportunity doesn't arise, it’s different. If I never get a chance to go to Olduvai Gorge to see where the Leakeys found the bones of some of the oldest known hominids, I know I can live with reading about it in books. But if I'm offered a camera safari, and I know there’s a way for me to make the trip, yet I still simper and say, “I don’t want to slow you down,” then I may regret it.
Regret is something we all want to live without, isn’t it? Disappointment we can handle; pain and sorrow await us all; but regret is something we can avoid by the way we respond to life’s opportunities.
OKAY, I’LL DO IT, BUT HOW? AND WHAT IF…?
Right. Good questions. I asked myself those same questions many times, and learned the answers through experience, both good and bad.
So, like the man (okay, person) who says he (or she) has found a way to make four million dollars in one year without resorting to pyramid schemes, I want to share my hard-won knowledge with you. Not because my way will be perfect for all unfitties of all genders, but because it worked for me – sometimes well, and sometimes, well, not so well.
And it’s been fun.
As Dick likes to point out to me every time he finds a new adventure on which to embark: By the time I get home I’m always glad I went. Ask me at 30,000 feet over one of the major oceans if I’m happy I squeezed my portly self into an uncomfortable airplane seat for nine hours and I’m apt to snarl in reply; but get me home, fed, rested, and within hobbling distance of my very own bathroom, and I’ll admit I’m glad I went.
Give me six months, then I’ll be acting as if the whole thing were my idea to begin with. I’ll be giving slide shows for my church group, explaining the history and geography of faraway places, and I’ll have completely forgotten I didn’t want to go in the first place. True fact.