In less than three months, I am going to:
1. Quit my job as a marketing writer.
2. Bail out of my perfectly happy little San Francisco life.
3. And honestly, truly travel the world for an extended period of time to explore, write and take photographs.
Oh my God. Am I insane?? Am I really doing this? Yes, I’ve had those thoughts. You might be wondering what exactly inspired me to take this crazy leap. Well, here’s the story. I’ll call this tale:
10% Inspiration, 90% Possible Insanity
The realization that I should or even could do these things did not hit me all at once. There was no grand lightbulb moment that caused me to bolt up straight and exclaim, “I’ve got it! I’m going to embark on a round-the-world journey, because I can!” It was more of a mounting succession of tiny moments, the right words, and growing supporting evidence that such a fantastical dream was indeed possible. If I had to place an X on the spot where the seed of inspiration was actually sown within my imagination, I’d have to say that spot would be right here:
It All Started in Africa — May, 2014 My friend Michelle and I stepped out of the tiny Victoria Falls airport into the heat, squinting as we scanned names written on paper signs held up by lanky Zimbabwean men dressed in a varying degrees of the same white collared short-sleeve shirt and black slacks. We were exhausted from nearly 30 hours of flying, two layovers, many crossed time zones, and one night in Johannesburg before our early morning flight of seven hours to Vic Falls.
We were both suffering the effects of three bottles of South African wine split between us during the previous evening’s celebratory ‘We made it to Africa!’ dinner and a lively jazz show (where I seem to recall agreeing to purchase a very large painting from a local artist with much drunken enthusiasm. Thankfully, and unlucky for him, I didn’t actually buy it, and instead skipped town.).
Eventually we spotted a sign that listed off “Kirsten, Michelle, Mike” and were led to our van, while passing some entrepreneurial local dancers and drummers who serenaded the dispersing tourists with a not-quite-harmonized version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Once in the air-conditioned van, guzzling cold bottles of water, and speeding off toward our home for the next four days, the Stanley & Livingstone Reserve Lodge, we went around the vehicle and made our introductions and commenced with requisite chit-chat. My hangover headache, having been stalled for a few hours was returning angrily, and I tuned in and out of the so where are you froms and what do you dos. I gathered that Mike, an Australian man of about 60, was some sort of international mediator—well traveled, he gave us some good advice on things to do and see in the area, which he had visited several times before. At the lodge, we went our separate ways, but Michelle and I agreed to stop in at Mike’s much more extravagant building on the property for dinner within the next few evenings. We headed off to our little hut, both more or less assuming we likely wouldn’t see the man again. But we were wrong.
We bumped into Mike at Victoria Falls 24 hours later. Incidentally, if you’ve never seen the falls in person, you owe it to yourself to rush over to your Travel To-Do List right this instant and put it on there, smack at the top. Trust me on this, they’re insanely stunning. Michelle and I spent a couple of hours chatting with him as we trudged through fat droplets of hurricane-force mist that swirled up from the gorgeous crashing falls. I learned that Mike is one of those “do-er” people. As in, if he decides he wants to do something, he apparently just goes out and does it. Most people’s ‘yeah that would be cool to do, maybe someday’ is his ‘That would be cool. Tuesday is free, I’ll do it then.’ His do-er things include writing and publishing several books, film scripts, earning a variety of college degrees, owning homes in Sydney as well as the South of France—oh, and carving out a career he loves that lets him travel the globe like the average Joe travels to the store for groceries. The thing is, he’s such a nice guy that you can’t even hate him for it.
The next evening, Michelle and I decided to take Mike’s advice on having a ‘fancy’ dinner at his building, which was elaborately decked out in Hemingway-era glamour. Rich, polished wood and stately chandeliers perfectly complimented an array of mounted zebra, water buffalo and impala heads. Oddly, the building was completely vacant. We learned that the huge tour group that was staying there was out on a Zambezi River safari, so we had our choice of the expanse of white-clothed tables in the dining hall. Just as we were about to order, who should happen to also head in for his dinner? You guessed it! And of course we gladly invited Mike to join us.
Over a sumptuous meal of steak and wine (which he insisted on footing the bill for—like I said, nice guy) Mike regaled us with stories about his intriguing life. After a glass or two of wine, I lamented that those are the things I would really love to do in my life. I wish I could write books, sell my photos, travel the world while earning a living, and have amazing adventures like he did. And then Mike said something to me that sounded utterly absurd. And so simple.
“Then do it. It’s not that hard.”
I guffawed, “Right. Easier said than done.”
“No it’s not. If you want to do those things, you can do them. You can find a way. But, if you want something, you have to go out and get it—it’s not just going to be handed to you on a silver platter. You can do it. So do it.”
His words began to seep into my brain, a minuscule trickle; little by little over the next weeks after I had returned home to San Francisco. It saturated my thoughts. I started to ask myself, Is he right? Can I actually do these things?
Within a month of that dinner, I started writing a blog. Within two months, I started writing a children’s book. And within three months, I had decided that I was going to save up, quit my job, and go travel the world.
And so, here we are. As the story behind my decision to do this trip and follow my dreams concludes, the REAL story is beginning… I hope you’ll follow along.
*Have you ever been inspired to travel the world for an extended period of time?