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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Twenty Years from Now

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

-- Mark Twain

For the past few years, I have taken between eight and 10 trips each year, many to international destinations. I have been asked many times why I travel so much.

I usually respond with a comment about not knowing how much longer I will be able to travel, so I want to do as much of it as possible while I still can. The future is guaranteed to no one. An illness, an accident, a life-threatening disease can strike any of us at any time. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

This hit home for me recently when I suddenly developed serious problems in both eyes. The retina in my left eye was completely detached, requiring emergency surgery to reattach it. A week after surgery, vision in that eye is still severely compromised, but improving. The retina in the right eye was detached in places, and the surgeon used an ultra-cold substance to try and 'stick' the retina back in place. All of this resulted in my having to cancel a photographic safari to Tanzania. With a gas bubble in the left eye pressing the retina into place, flying on an airplane is not possible. I wear a bright green wrist band to alert medical personnel and first responders of the presence of the gas bubble.

So when I ran across the above quote from Mark Twain on a Facebook friend's timeline, it really struck a chord with me. As a senior citizen who is experiencing some of the effects of aging (arthritis, osteoporosis, cataracts), I don't really need to be reminded that life is short and guaranteed to no one. But sometimes an extra kick in the pants is a good thing. Once my vision is back to normal (and I am confident it will be), I plan to continue my travels. I already have signed up for the same Tanzania photo safari next April. And I have booked trips to Yellowstone, Alaska, Brazil and Ethiopia for 2018. I recently bought a new lens for my camera after thinking about it for a long time. Regret is something I don't want to be part of my future.

Photography and travel are my favorite pasttimes, and I intend to engage in both for as long as I am physically able. My advice, although I'm far from as famous as Mark Twain: Don't let life or fear keep you from following your passion, whether it is travel or writing, cooking or starting a business, or anything else. Find your passion and find a way to make it part of your life. 

My list of places I hope to visit is long, and I keep hoping that my photography will someday be more popular. And I hope I have another 20 years of pursuing my passions. I want to never have to regret the things I didn't do.