By Kristy Chown
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
This quote hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. Here, in one sentence, was the ideal that had spurred my first big trip overseas to Australia after teacher’s college.
This was the first big thing I had ever done by myself. I remember looking over Melbourne as our flight touched down and thought, ‘this is me, here I am, half a world away from everything I know.’
I would end up spending two years in Australia and a few months in Europe as my passion for travel continued to grow.
I overcame my fear of the open ocean and snorkelled the Barrier Reef, I bungee jumped the tallest platform in New Zealand, I went hang gliding over cerulean lakes in Switzerland. I attempted not to step on brown snakes, or touch the redback nest in our cottage when I did farm work. I had the pleasure of teaching all sorts of students and learning new methods of instruction in my new home. I made memories with travellers I knew for a weekend, or internationals that are now lasting friendships, crossing oceans. I fell in love quicker than I ever thought possible after years of meeting no one of note.
Travel is not for everyone, but for me it has become a sort of everything. I love my country Canada and my home, but travel has become a way for me to learn about myself through the newness of places and others. Travel has tested my patience and my limits. I have slept in airports crying with frustration. I have been violently ill and been lost where no one spoke my language. But still, I keep going, to create all the wonderful memories I make when I go with all my heart. I have seen the stars light up above and below me as bioluminescence plays in the waves along the shore. I have been lost for words at the sheer magnitude of Milford Sound or Queenstown by helicopter. I still laugh when I think of the many times I was hit by my board when I tried surfing for the first time in Torquay. Travel opened my eyes and my heart to a whole world both inside and out of me – I always feel my best, happiest self when I am traveling and I believe it’s because my heart is fully present.
There are no age barriers for travel, but I always knew it was something I wanted to do while I was still young and hadn’t settled into any particular life. My father once told me he regretted many things he hadn’t done and seems to consider his mortality with every new birthday. I vowed to not let this be me and to take the chances where I could. The longer we sit and wait to follow a passion, the more reasons we find not to. The truth is, there will never be a ‘perfect time’ for anything in life. Some people will have to sacrifice or work harder than others to see things through, still, we all share one gift – the gift of now. It doesn’t need to be travel. It could be trying a new sport, attending a new class, or calling up an old friend. So often we procrastinate and put things off until tomorrow when tomorrow is never a guarantee. In this year alone, I have said goodbye to many international friends, to a second home I loved and to a man I could have pictured a future with. But I was passionate about my travels, I knew what could happen, and still, I did it with my whole heart. I don’t believe anything can be truly regretted if you loved and lived like you meant it. In 2018 we can all find our passions, so set aside the excuses and go for them in the beautiful Now.