April 22, 2017
The screen in front of me showed the perfect arc. From Houston to Tokyo, the little airplane emoji was centered in front of my face, the world split between North America and Asia. I sat above the world, somewhere west of Anchorage and east of the international date line. The plane faced west, heaving through the upper atmosphere and jaunting me a half a world away from my family for yet another adventure that lay ahead. This wasn’t the adventure, it was merely a trip.
I was en route to Bangkok for 72 hours to spearhead a workshop before heading back to my home in Oklahoma City. I was doing several dozen “trips” a year, mostly for work but sometimes for fun. Work trips have always been fun for me except when I have to leave my family behind. In those instances, the trips became an experience that I would not do justice to explain later in pictures and adjectives.
There’s one commonality in trips and adventures worth noting; to fully understand them, you have to experience them yourself. That is really where the friendship between the two ends.
Trips are planned and somewhat predictable. You don’t “plan a trip” and then make your airline reservations and accommodations on the fly. No, trips are sequenced and have a start and stop and generally are shorter in duration. Trips have a home to return to. Trips are comfortable.
Adventures are scary. Adventures are what happen when you stop planning and start living. Hemingway got it right when he said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Adventures require flexibility and as a planner, I’m trying to figure out the right balance between coordinating and living. Do I stop planning? Is that too scary?
About a year ago, lying in my bed the night before an early morning flight to Thailand, I found myself praying my normal prayer of gratitude, the foundation for my spiritual life.
Thank you God for my family. Thank you for my community, my home and my business. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me and my family. Help me, Lord, to be your guy. Help me meet my potential. Help me be patient and be kind. Thank you for everything. I am so undeserving of all of this which I receive.
There was (and is) so much to be thankful for. With our boys sleeping soundly in our safe home, it was Lee Anne who whispered in my ear to “please come back home.” Trips, when taken alone, can feel like adventures to those who are left behind to worry.
Jetting through the air at 40,000 feet on the start of another trip, I couldn’t sleep. Our big adventure starts in 370 days, I thought.
The adventure; a journey out of our cradle of comfort and into the abyss of possibilities, would take us places I’ve dreamt about with childlike wonder. Will we see Africa through the eyes of the tiger traversing the Serengeti? Could we cruise the countryside of New Zealand? Might we rent a cute little cabin in Bavaria? Perhaps catch a World Cup game in Russia?
We will certainly light a candle in St. Peter’s or Notre Dame – or both – as well as meditate in a Buddhist monastery. We could ask a guide if the tomb of Nefertiti was indeed behind the boy King Tut’s tomb.
Who will we meet? What could we mess up? Where might we end up? I’m certain we’ll sing in the car, dance in the rain and cry over being homesick. Our adventure will be rich in love and experiences and will transform the rest of our lives.
As our departure date grew closer, it began to eat up more and more of my mind, a cancer of wanderlust enveloping my brain. The only cure was the courage to begin.