Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time & A Passport

So the other day I was talking to a student at my college. She was following along on Facebook with the updates her friends were posting from Las Vegas.

She was lamenting her choice to stay home and work even though she knew that she really needed the money for college. I told her that I could relate. I, too, am often wishing to be off somewhere new and seeing the world. I told her that it was okay and that she will have plenty of time to go on trips in the future.

If anything this made me think about what an interesting time we live in. That terrorism notwithstanding, this is probably the greatest time ever in the history of the world to live if you want to travel. Right now, if you live within driving distance of an airport, you can effectively go anywhere in the world.

Assuming you are not a wanted fugitive, you can take your passport and your wallet and head to the nearest airline ticket counter, pick a spot on the map and say, "I want to go there!"

Now mind you, this does require two luxuries that not all of us have: Time and money. But if you can work those two things out, you can go. Just go.

On my one and only trip to New Zealand, the time between deciding to go and actually going was a mere five weeks. My good friend had asked me earlier in the year if I wanted to join him while he worked on a doctoral degree in Auckland and I wish I could say that I jumped at the chance. Instead, I weighed out the time and the money and pondered if I could spare either or both. I thought about it all the way until it was just more than a month to the departure date before I took the plunge.

It's funny now to think about that since it was by far the best trip I had been on in my pre-marriage life.

But perhaps even more pivotal than making the decision to go was being prepared to go. That meant having a passport. About a year earlier my mother, who has seen quite a bit of the world, urged me to get my documents in order. At the time I hedged and balked at it. I didn't think I would have any use in the foreseeable future, so why bother? Given the fact that it was only five weeks between ticket purchase and "last call for boarding Air New Zealand flight 9 to Auckland," it was crucial that I had a passport in hand.

Given that my life has taken off in a number of ways since that fateful trip eight years ago, it is conceivable that had if I not gone then, I may not have gone at all. And that, would have been unfortunate.

The lesson I learned is that you can always make the time, but you have to be ready when the opportunity comes. So now whenever I see someone thinking about traveling, I can't help but ask them the all important question, "Do you have a passport?"

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