Know the Difference

My knowns have disappointed me far more than my unknowns ever have.

What I thought was reality, was an illusion. A construct of so-called knowns that came slamming down on me, one painful block at a time.

I don’t care for knowns anymore. I don’t care for routine or structure, either. They scare me because they can all be taken away, and without my wanting nor permission.

I am more comfortable with unknowns and not knowing where I am going. Nothing can be taken away from me. Nothing is ever cancelled. Everything is changeable. Everything flows from better to better.

I can’t get anxious about what I don’t know. I can’t be worried about missing out because I don’t know what I’m missing out on.

And you know what? So far, so good.

When I let go of the oars (or house, or job, or partner, or stuff), and quit trying so damn hard, the flow is more enjoyable; it brings me to places I would have never contemplated stopping for a break.

The most tedious travel I have ever encountered are trips that were carefully planned out, researched and on a schedule. I wonder how much I missed by seeing it all? [Site-seeing should be reworded to site-glancing.]

How many sunsets did I miss because I had to be somewhere?

How many people didn’t I meet because I didn’t have the time to chat?

Have I met – and passed over – the true love of my life because I was on a schedule?

How many hole-in-the-wall authentic restaurants did I miss because I was told where and what to eat? (Along with hidden gem wines!)

How many smiles, connections, nuances, details, doors, paths, smells, sights, colours, observations, mysteries, experiences, wanders and emotions did I miss because of shoulds, must-sees and preplanning everything down to the last minute?

My favourite travels have been journeys, where I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to see. The unknown pleasantly surprises at every turn, when you don’t know what you think you should experience.

The unexpected has created fabulous memories; and indeed, those are the best kind of souvenirs.

How else could have I dreamt up a pyjama party in the main lounge in one of the most luxurious hotels in Japan, if I had bus tour dinner plans? The opportunity to encourage everyone to come to the lounge in his or her pyjamas (wearing the hotel provided housecoats), to drink champagne with me would have not presented itself. We all joked and laughed and laughed and laughed and co-created so much joy and we grew to such a size the hotel actually ran out of champagne! I’ll never forget that evening, and I’m sure they won’t, either.

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My favourite conversations when I return from travelling are, “Oh, I was there as well. Did you see Blank Museum/Church/Tourist Trap?”

“No. But I did see the last eight remaining wild rhinos in Zambia.”

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Or “No. But I did have an authentic hours-long Egyptian lunch with an Egyptian family in their home, just off the Giza Plateau. Then we watched the sun set behind the pyramids, right from their balcony. They called me their sister. I’ll never forget it.”

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Or with my daughter, stopping for a break in Vienna for a ‘quick glass of wine’ at 3 p.m.; by 11 pm and three bottles of wine later, slurring to everyone in the elevator, using a fake British accent, “Please don’ t make me laugh. I’ll pee my pants.” If we were on a tour bus, we would have missed that golden runaway – a memory that we will giggle about the remaining days of our lives.

I don’t know where I’m going, what’s next, who will be with me, when I’m going (if at all) and why my life has turned out the way it did – and that is so exciting.

Admittedly, it took a while to get to this podium. I clutched, cried and fought hard for my knowns, as if I’d die without them. How was I to know I was already dying with them?

My known life was full of problems verses possibilities. My unknown life is full of possibilities verses problems. Know the difference.

Life is one big wandering adventure when you think about it. You can either grab the oars, and make it full of what you think are knowns, musts, pressures, schedules, commitments, bad food, less wine; only to leave a bunch of crap for your children to throw out (or fight over) after you die.

Or you can embrace your life as overflowing with unknowns, living in the moment, and making memories -leaving a legacy with the most amazing obituary.

I know what I’m leaving my children. And that’s the one and only known that I’m comfortable with.