Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Living Life in Reverse - Patrick's story

Patrick decided after finishing college that he would live life in reverse, so to speak.  For 10 years he would travel and experience the world and get that out of his system, and then he'd come back to Canada and work like a dog for 10 years.

In making that decision, Patrick compares it with the analogy of driving.  Good drivers always look some distance ahead down the road so they can see what is coming, not only right close to them, but what is further along.  That way the trip ends up being smoother and you don't make yourself dizzy.  Drivers who focus on the road right in front of the car aren't aware of what is coming further, and as a result, have to make split second emergency decisions to keep from crashing.  That or they get information overload from focusing on so much going by so fast as close as it is.

Patrick felt that the majority of graduates coming out of school were making decisions focused on what was hitting them in the face, rather than thinking about how they will feel about their life 10 or 20 years down the road.

Patrick ended up following his plan.  He was a scuba diving instructor in the tropics around the world in the summers.  In the winters he would work at the ski resorts in Europe.  He kept up this routine right into his early 30's.

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Patrick tells two stories.  The first story is of his first trip to Europe.  He was taking a train from Budapest, Hungary, to Prague in what was Czechoslovakia at the time.  A lady in her early 40's was the only other person in his compartment, and he ended up getting into a conversation with her.  It turned out that after she finished college she started traveling and didn't stop for the last 20 years - teaching English or finding odd jobs in the different countries that she had been traveling in.  She told Patrick that her last teaching stint had been in China where she had met a compatriot that she wanted to get more involved with.  This special fellow had already gone back to England and was working.  She was going back there to join him and see if a life-time relationship and perhaps a family would be in the making.  As the train crossed the boarder into Czechoslovakia, the lady abruptly opened her travel back, unpacked a bottle of champagne and two glasses and asked Patrick to join her in a celebration.  "What for?" Patrick queried.  "This is the 100th country I've been in," she replied.  This made a huge impact on Patrick.  She had made a concrete, emphatic decision to travel until she was ready to do something else.  Instead of go along with life and rolling with it's punches, she had taken life 'by the horns' and did what she wanted to do, enjoying it to the full with the resources and opportunities that came her way.

The second story Patrick tells took place after he'd been traveling for 8 years already.  He came back to his hometown in northern BC to work for the summer.  Of course, being back in his home town, he ended up running into friends he grew up with.  Patrick got into a discussion with one and it turned out that since high school this fellow had taken over the family farm, paid it off and become financially very stable. Besides working on the farm, he was doing some equipment hauling for the oil patch.  Looking back on the conversation, Patrick was amazed to realize that this fellow had basically summed up 15 years of his life with 4 words.  'I've been busy working.' 

Patrick says that even still almost all the old friends he's run into - to a person - have said 'oh, I wish I had the opportunity to go traveling.'  Patrick believes that they each had the opportunity when they were younger.  They just never made the choice.

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