Sunday, December 27, 2009



Perhaps you’ve never really accepted being less than completely fit. Maybe your mental image of yourself is from an earlier time, when you felt ten feet tall and bulletproof.

My self-image is of the day in my mid-30s when I walked to Peace Arch Park with my mother and my youngest brother, Rob. It was a beautiful day for a walk. It was also a beautiful day for a run, and I suddenly found myself shouting, “Race you to the arch, Robbie!” It felt wonderful, moving as fast as I could. In my mind’s eye, I still see an idealized mini-movie featuring soft green grass below me, blue sky above me, the Canada-US border in front of us, and Mom laughing behind us.

Alright, I know, my brother was only 13 at the time, and my legs were still longer than his. Okay, maybe Rob wasn’t trying very hard because he really didn’t think I could beat him. Nevertheless, I got there first.

Laughing and perspiring, I panted, “I won!”

“That was pretty good,” he said, with a grin.

Of course it never happened again. A year later, when Rob and I were traveling with a friend in Queensland, Australia, I tried to run, tripped over a tree root, fell flat on my face, and decided enough was enough. But I’ve carried the image of my one victory in my head for years, pushing aside the embarrassing memory of eating Australian dirt, ignoring the pain slowly overtaking me, and trying to ignore the years overtaking me as well.

So don’t think I titled this section “just accept it” because I’m good at acceptance. I’m not. I’m here to say don’t do what I did. Don’t do what I still do from time to time – don’t refuse to accept your limitations.

This may sound contrary to the moral “it’s better to go than not go” but it isn’t. Acceptance is key to enjoying adventurous travel. Accept your limitations by learning to deal with them effectively; accept being unable to do everything your traveling companions can do and, above all, accept help.

Accept help?

Become a little old lady escorted across streets by boy scouts? Oh no, your inner voice screams, I can’t, I won’t, and I never will, so there!

I know, I know. My inner voice screamed the same things, but there were times when I had to accept help from the most unlikely sources... for instance, from my mother.

Good grief.

I’d rather have had a boy scout help me.

Or a girl scout.

So how did I get from there to the Galapagos Islands?


Anonymous said... you've touched on my tender spot...I am quite unable to ask for help, or even accept it when it's offered, (except for my dear husband, that is). That would be why I burnt myself out at work..I learned to exercise moderation at home, but would in no way fail to pull my full weight, (and then some), on the job. I'm going to reread this post and try to absorb the wisdom in it, because I know you're right.

I love that you've shared your story...


Francisca said...

Hmmm... I suppose that the trick, Kay, is in knowing what the REAL limitations are (like don't jump off a cliff because you really can't fly and an angel won't catch you - but that's an easy one) and those limitations that we've just conjured up in our minds (I think I can't do that, when in fact I really can if I try). Sometimes that's not so easy, is it?