The Little Old Lady Over My Shoulder

Let me start by saying, I have been told I have a few eccentric quirks, of this I’m generally aware. And this may be an example. Put out to the world to think what it may.

The past few months has been this cloud of decisions looming over me. Granted, in part self-inflicted, but still there it is. Waiting. Though I know it’s irrational, I feel like the decisions I make in the next few months will completely dictate my future life. That isn’t really true of course, but certainly, it will shape it significantly.

I feel, on occasion I couldn’t possibly have the maturity or foresight to know what’s best in any given decision. And so, when I simply cannot find the answer within, I’ll ask my future 90-year-old self. If she approves, it’s probably a good idea. I’ve given my alter-ego elderly self the name Winifred. I don’t know why, it’s not like I’m planning on changing my name, it just makes it more tangible somehow (and it’s better than saying “dear future self”). Anyway, I figure, if when I’m 90 (or equivalent older age) and am looking back on all the decisions I made, good and bad, if I’m satisfied with them so near the end of my life, they must have been worthwhile.

Certainly, I would believe Winifred would have my best interest at heart, and want only the best for me. She is after all, technically, me. But she would have the innate benefit, for example, of being able to distinguish between what I actually want, and what external forces I’m currently too close to see have made me think I want. I imagine her to be full of wisdom and to tell me things, perhaps a bit too candidly with a glass of wine in hand. Maybe, she would tell me I shouldn’t care one bit what anyone else thinks of my decisions, and to simply do what I love, she may even have some insight into what exactly it is that I love doing. Because now, I have many, many interests, but find it difficult to commit to anything. Hence dragging my feet on the whole grad school thing.

I think she would also tell me she doubts I would ever regret more education. It could open new doors not yet known, and not to mention, provide an excellent medium for personal growth. How could that be a bad thing?

Why am I telling you all this? How does this relate to travel? This is a travel blog, right? Well lately, I’ve been thinking about regret. And strangely, reading about regret from other travelers.  I’m not naive enough to think I won’t have regrets, I’m human, and not a sociopath. But I figure, aside from grave errors in judgement, I’ll learn and move on, and be better for it. But what I’ve noticed amongst travelers (on the subject of regret) is this: few have many real regrets, many live extremely fulfilling lives and generally don’t look back on their lives and say “damn, I wish I had done that differently.” Aside from the usual, “I wish I would have figured this out earlier, but better late than never.” And why would they? Who looks back and says I really wish I hadn’t gone trekking Nepal, or swam in the dead sea.  Some have kids, and some don’t. Some even take their kids abroad with them. Most don’t make all that much money, or really own much of anything. Most are also, very, very happy. I think for this singular reason: they have found a passion, and are following it. They understand that happiness cannot be achieved through material possessions or status or prestige, but from experiences, relationships, and family. And not to mention being part of something bigger than themselves.  Not to say travel is the best, nor remotely close to the only way to happiness, but it happens to be a primary medium for me. Travelers aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but many seem to have a wisdom  I believe Winifred would approve of.

So when making life choices, I try the channel the adventurous part of my soul in hopes of living a life I’ll look back on, smile, and be content. For me, that means travel. And career wise means something that allows me to travel, or better yet, give back to the world. Sometimes I wish I had the wisdom Winifred has, but then I suppose, that would take all the fun out of discovery. Besides, she’s always there to guide me the best she can.

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