Why I Travel
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
Nine months ago, I lived on a beautiful 4 bedroom ranch with 2 acres of land in Phoenix, AZ.
I gave that all up without hesitation for the name of travel and adventure.
“Smile, Smile, Smile”
Tonight, I am typing once again on the tiny foot stool-sized chair, and miniature desk in my very small Jhongli, Taiwan apartment.
The only noise I can hear is the rattle of my ancient air conditioner that barely keeps the temperature tolerable.
I am still feeling EXTREMELY fortunate
I was given a gift yesterday about how precious life really is.
I missed my 9:30 bus to a “river-tracing” destination of Wulai, and suddenly felt like the world was going to end.
My face mimicked the face of when I was a 13 year old boy and my mom told me I had to turn off “Tecmo Bowl” to work on homework. I was pissed!
It all worked out ok though. I joined up with an older Taiwanese man and his daughter to go halves on an extremely cheap cab ride to our destination.
It did not take long for me to realize that this older man in his mid 60’s with 4 straggling white hairs across his upper lip was one of the happiest people I ever met.
He and I laughed, joked, and bonded like no other on the ride out to Wulai.
The laughing and joking all took a dramatic turn about halfway into the trip. That was when he informed me he was going to die any day now. Of course, he said this with a smile and a laugh.
The doctors had notified him that his cancer was spreading too rapidly in his stomach for medicine or treatment to even be worth it.
I just couldn’t believe it! I didn’t know how it was even possible since he was SO happy.
I immediately changed from glowing and smiling ear to ear, to a little bit of that shaky feeling you get when those watery things fill up the bottom of your eye lids. (aka-tear drops) When I was 8, I use to tell my Mom and Dad “My eyes are sweating.”
With the threat of “sweaty-eyes” looming largely for myself, I realized it was a situation that I could not have prepared for.
This dude seemed like one of the most legit people I met since being here in Taiwan, and he could be taken away at any moment.
It was so confusing to me.
However, his actions and his demeanor helped me realize he must have made some sort of turning point.
He came to his comfort zone.
He realized one of the most important lessons I hope we all learn. This message has been played many times in the Grateful Dead song, “He’s Gone,”
The most important words any of us could ever choose to live by are: “There’s nothing left to do but SMILE, SMILE, SMILE.”
That was the choice he made. He made the choice to just SMILE, SMILE, SMILE.
Man, I give him incredible props for that. I have been told and read hundreds of times that death is the biggest motivator.
I personally can never really conceptualize comments like that until I live out a similar experience.
I now have a 110 percent grasp of how true the motivation of death actually is. This was 4 days ago now.
This man’s picture, and the sound of his laugh are still like I have never left that moment. My wish is that they carry on with me every day for the rest of my life.
I am so thankful I met this guy. It was such a helpful reminder that there really is nothing left to do but, SMILE, SMILE, SMILE. .