Without looking in a mirror, how old do you think you are? Ignoring my knees and reflection, I know my age – 39 years young more or less. I ignore the guffaws of those who feel the need to correct me. 60 is the new 35 and I have a lot of living to do. My achy knees are merely a reminder that I better get moving. My story is far from finished and I have many chapters to write.
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” Diane Ackerman (poet, naturalist and author of the bestselling book, The Zookeeper’s Wife)
Some people believe “Bucket List” is an overused phrase. Call it what you will but it translates into a lifetime of hopes and dreams and checking them off one by one is a whole lot of fun.
But your list doesn’t just have to be about destinations. Last year, I checked off my fear of horses. A friend accompanied me out to a horse rescue and I spend a day learning to walk, brush and chat with a well behaved horse. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting and learning about all those different personalities. Next up: get on one. (I may have found a new use for bubble-wrap.)
Bucket Lists are about accomplishments, family and friends you are excited to travel with, and people and creatures you are just aching to meet along the way. But isn’t it just that much more satisfying when you can check off a particular item somewhere else in the world? So now that we are over 55, maybe 65 or even 85, what is still waiting on your list to be checked off?
“At fifty, the madwoman in the attic breaks loose, stomps down the stairs, and sets fire to the house. She won’t be imprisoned anymore.” ~ Erica Jong
How can I convince a sedentary senior that exploring the world will make them grow young again? Perhaps my mother’s example will help. Betty is chronologically 96. Having just completed a tour of the Yukon, she has informed me we must now begin research on a trip to Forres, one of Scotland’s oldest small towns. Over 65 years ago, heavily pregnant Betty was a passenger on a WWII convoy traveling the treacherous journey across the Atlantic from Canada to Britain. My father was stationed in Forres, Morayshire and she was on her way to join him. This is the town where my oldest brother was born and it appears, after working with the magical Google Earth, the hotel and hospital still exist and accepting guests and patients respectively. We still have time. Death is far too busy picking off the old and Betty isn’t on its radar.
I read the odds of you being born in this particular time and place are about 1 in 400,000,000,000. Can you imagine? Your life is a gift and it would be an insult to one’s self to waste it. What do you intend to do with the balance of it? So many surprises await those willing to peek behind the curtains where others dare not go, strangers to laugh and debate with over wine-soaked topics, art and architecture yet to be admired and studied, and animals who will win your hearts on their turf.
So what gets your heart beating? Your next adventure may bring joys you could only imagine. Blow the dust off your Bucket List and begin your next chapter.
- Take a grandchild to Africa and give them the present of adopting a cheetah at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.
- Ballroom anyone? If you love to dance, learn to rumba, tango or simply waltz the night away on a cruise ship. Oh yes, some luxury cruise lines will even provide you with a gentlemen of a certain age to be your partner.
- Love horses? Travel to Lexington, Kentucky to visit the farms of the champions or perhaps drop in at a horse rescue.
- Watch the winter storms roll in or be spellbound as 20,000 Pacific Gray Whales migrate from Baja to Alaska at the magnificent Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver Island.
- Remember the days when passenger trains were elegant and you were treated like royalty? That experience still exists on Belmond’s Royal Scotsman, Grand Hibernian and the exotic Orient Express.
- Fly into Churchill, Manitoba to marvel at the polar bears from a mere heart pounding few feet away.
- Tee off in the company of your son or daughter on the Old Course St Andrews, Scotland.
- Take your sketch pad or camera with you while wandering the gardens and landscapes that inspired Monet.
“I’ll do it someday gets pretty old. Literally! Before you know it, you are old and you still haven’t done it.” W.K. Edwardson
Do not settle for that timeshare in Palm Springs, the condo in Hawaii or quaint Maritime cottage rental year after year. I know it’s easier and, as the years slip by, we tend to gravitate to things that demand little of us. It’s called getting old. You don’t have to be concerned with where to buy necessities you may need, getting lost, converting currency and, of course, paying those exorbitant travel insurance premiums. You stay within your comfort zone and avoid the dreaded, “What ifs…”
But what if I tell you…
IF you can climb into a Zodiac with the help of three able-bodied crew, you can explore the Polar Regions;
IF you are not too proud to be carried by four strong men on a handheld litter, you can visit the gorillas of Uganda;
IF you can step down from a train to be greeted by waiting guides, you can explore Europe in style; and
IF you need supplies or help on a cruise ship, hosts are employed to sort it out for you.
Life is meant to be messy and that is where the seeds of stories are born! Five years from now Grandma getting lost on the Isle of Skye will be a family treasure to be told over and over. I could list reams of places you most likely have never heard of. You might turn to me and say, can I go there? And I would respond yes, you can.
“Fear is a waste of time. I am a great believer in Fate. It will take me when and where it chooses. Until then, it will have to chase me as I intend to run very fast.” ~ W.K. Edwardson
Do not surround yourself with naysayers who destroy your vision with comments like, “You can’t do that. You’re too old.” or “That costs too much.” or “Who will look after you?” Most certainly the expounder of those discouraging words is telling you they are afraid to do what you dare. Either that or they don’t want you spending their inheritance.
Multigeneration and group travel is at the top of the travel industry’s list. Catering to the baby boomers and their extended families is big business. In other words, they will bend over backwards to make your 3-generations happy in that Cabos villa rental you ordered.
Betty is not so naive to think she can travel anywhere. So she concentrates on where she can go. That’s the golden ticket. My mother is a very smart woman and, as you can probably tell, has had a profound influence on my life. She once told me, “You can clean your house until it is spotless but it will just get dirty again. No one cares. Leave it and go do something exciting.” My kids can thank me for their healthy immune systems.
Qualifications of a World Explorer
To become an explorer, without a doubt, there are a few qualifiers. You must have an open mind and be prepared to declare: I have a will and there is always a way!