Friday, June 02, 2006

Yes, I can

Seven years ago I packed my car, loaded my computer into the trunk and hit the road. I suddenly realized that with the job I had I didn't need to stay in one place as long as I could hook up to a phone line and I didn't have to wait until some day when I was retired to travel. I had a similar realization yesterday.

I was watching Bride & Prejudice again last night and wishing I could see the Golden Temple in Amritsar. I wanted to go to Goa and shop in the bazaars, pick out a flower necklace and breathe in the scent of spices and a different life. The music, the dancing, the color, another world, all of it whirling around in my mind while I reminded myself that I couldn't afford such a trip.

I am doing what I've told so many other people they shouldn't do -- put my life on hold for some day. No more.

One of the things I realized is that travel to anywhere in the world is within my grasp. It won't be cheap and it won't be easy but it is possible. All I need do is throw out the cannot from my vocabulary. I can do this.

And not only India but Alaska, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Paris, the world is all within my grasp. All I have to do is reach out and take it.

Just as I realized I wasted too many hours each week watching television that I could use for writing, yesterday I realized I waste a lot of money, funds that could go for travel. It's a matter of exchanging one choice for another. Instead of buying lots of books or other things I don't really need, I could save the money for travel. A little planning, a little sacrifice and I could see the world -- and get paid for it, too, writing about where I've been, what I see, what I've learned and a million other things. That way the cost of the trip is a write-off and I get some of the money back to use for other trips. In the meantime, I will live, LIVE, LIVE. In the words of Mame Dennis, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

I am not starving but I've been on the wrong diet.

So many people tell me they want to write and don't have the time. I ask them if they watch television at night (they invariably say they do). Then I tell them the secret: Give up 30 minutes of television every night and 60 minutes on Saturday and Sunday and you will have enough time to write. We often don't realize how much time we waste on mindless activities or, in my case, how much money I waste on a monthly basis. Add up the time: 14,070 hours that could be used for writing in a year's time. That's enough to write War & Peace.

I spend about $200-$250 each and every month that I could use for something more exciting and useful, and something worthwhile -- like travel. In a year's time that adds up to $3000, which is more than enough for a round trip ticket to India in business class or even first class. I'm sure if I work at it I can even scrape a few more dollars together by working over time and cutting back on expenses in other ways.

Of course discipline is an issue but no pain, no gain, and the pay off is an even more interesting life.

Maybe it's the laptop. Maybe it's the excitement of music and color and movies. Or maybe I just got wise to myself. It's time to take cannot out of my vocabulary and replace it with I know I can. I got out of the rut in Columbus and hit the road seven years ago, a trip that brought me to the end of a rainbow. But there are lots of rainbows out there and next year my trusty laptop and I will be in either Alaska or India or maybe even Thailand or Greece or Egypt or a trek through Europe beginning in Rome and ending in Paris or Brussels or Vienna. The world is definitely my oyster and this is one poor sucker who's decided to step up to the banquet.

I just hope Beanie has a really big appetite. She's going to need it.

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