Today I am celebrating my 40th birthday. Last year I wrote a post reflecting on my life but this year I thought I would do something a bit different and flash forward 40 years to invision what life looks like from 80.
Today I turn 80 years old and looking back I realize I have some amazing memories of people I’ve met, places I’ve seen, and experiences that make me smile. However, it has been the last 4 decades that make me twitch with excitement as I reflect on all that has happened and the crazy path my life has taken. A little over 40 years ago Betsy and I set off on the journey that would change our lives, but neither of us had any idea just how much. We sold everything we owned to explore the world for a couple years, yet here we are decades later sitting in a cafe in Christchurch, New Zealand reflecting on a life we could never have imagined.
We never did return to the United States to live full time though I cannot say it was an active decision. Each time we were ready something would pull us towards a new destination, yet it is impossible to tell you what it was. We have now spent half our lives traveling the globe and meeting amazing people along the way. Over the years we have “lived” in many countries, including England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Kuala Lampur, Ireland, Germany, and Philippines but visited dozens more. Each new destination brought experiences I now cherish but it is how we traveled that makes me smile today.
Let Others Know What You Want
In looking back I discovered that most of my experiences were shaped because I let others know what I wanted. Sometimes it was as simple as telling someone about our desire to sail across the Pacific while other times it was the willingness to ask for something that most people thought was silly. I realize now that this approach has sent my life in some incredible directions and I became forever grateful of the unexpected.
There are hundreds of examples small and large to share, but the most vivid occured when I was 47. We were in Hong Kong chatting with a couple about the importance of asking for what you want. We described some of the experiences we had had as a result and I mentioned my desire to write a book about the concept to share it with others. Months later we found out that her closest friend worked in a publishing house in London and she contacted me to hear more about our experience. In the end Betsy and I wrote “The Art of the Ask”, which reached #1 on the “London Times” best seller list, to inspire others to be willing to ask for what they want in life.
Years later while living in Australia I decided to learn how to scuba dive at 55 years old. I mentioned my desire to learn while at our local pub and the owner of a local dive school/tour company overhead me. He said he’d be happy to teach and over the next year we became close friends. When Dave decided to retire I asked if he would let me take over his dive school business, something we had never discussed. I thought it would be fun to give back to others the amazing experience Dave had shared with me. After a few days of consideration Dave agreed and for the next 3 years I ran a diving school and tour business in Australia. I could never have predicted this opportunity, but it would not have happened if I had not been willing to share my goal out loud.
It would be impossible to list even a fraction of the wonderful things I have seen and done. Sitting down to write this I am overwhelmed with memories of sights, smells, and exhilaration from moments that have spanned 4 decades and bring laughter and tears to my eyes. However, the common thread throughout has been how much our experiences were shaped by sharing our desires with others:
- When I was 52 we were visiting friends in Seattle and I told a friend about our desire to sail across the Pacific on a yacht. He introduced us to his friend that had a boat that he wanted to have sailed to New Zealand and we jumped at the opportunity. I can still taste the salt air from those months at sea.
- For my 60th birthday I wanted to start a big project. I mentioned this vague goal to the owner of the small bed & breakfast we helped run one year. She told us about her amazing time hiking the Italian coastline. She shared with us her route and all the tips she had. On the morning of my 60th we left for a 6 month hike down the Italian coastline, finishing with a month in Capri. What an amazing experience of history, sights, and gastronomy.
- Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro thanks to a guide we met in South Africa. I asked if he would be willing to guide us up the mountain for my 70th birthday. Not only did he agree to the request, he provided us with a private guided tour in exchange for my photographs of the experience. You really are never too old to follow a dream
- I had my photography included in several magazines (including National Geographic, Time, & Wanderlust) thanks to my amazing wife. She always knew this was my passion and after years of nudging she submitted my photos to a friend of a friend. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to share a part of my experiences with the world through my pictures.
I am Happy
I am a lucky man, but in looking back I realize that I had to work to create the luck around me. It never came to me without knowing what I wanted to achieve and proudly stating this to anyone who would listen. I never knew who might be willing or able to help, but the importance was telling others what I wanted.
I look back at the last 40 years knowing that I have no regrets at all for what I have done and what I have not. However, my list of ambitions continues to grow and I am not going to stop taking advantage of each day. Whether it is sail across an ocean or write a book, let people know. The more people that are supporting you and aware of your goals the more likely you will find people that can help you achieve them.
How would you like to experience the next 40 years? Who will you tell about these desires? What is keeping you from sharing them today?