People sometimes shut the door on opportunity without even realizing it. I learned that lesson earlier this year before booking a trip to Africa.
You see, I grew up watching the Discovery Channel back when that channel only showed animal documentaries, especially ones shot on safari. I was fascinated by what I saw. But at the time, Africa was as foreign to me as outer space, if not similarly out of reach. That’s nonsense, of course. But it’s what I believed as a young boy. So I did what any naive boy would do: I subconsciously filed the possibility of going to Africa someday as “forget about it.”
Time passed. I earned a diploma, visited other far away lands, went to college and met a girl. We got married, went on adventures and made babies. Somewhere along the way, I learned how to persevere and finagle my way into doors that interested me.
But my subconscious kept one door closed. That is until one day this spring when my wife announced she wanted to attempt a lifelong dream of seeing Africa.
“I never knew,” I replied with genuine surprise, this after 12 years of marriage. I really didn’t. The instant she told me, however, her dream rekindled mine. The door was opened once more—subconscious be damned. Africa was not only a possibility, it was about to become a reality.
Granted, visiting Africa isn’t as melodramatic as I’ve made it sound. Lots of people do it everyday. But that’s beside the point.
My point is that adventurous people can often inspire new dreams, even ones we may have prematurely closed the book on or perhaps forgotten. I’m grateful for the lively people in my life; people like me wife, like my friend Davis, like my brother-in-law Clay, like my buddy Steve—anyone who has ever shared their love for the world and a desire to see, touch and experience more of it.
Over the last year, this column has taken me to many remarkable places, mind travel as much as physical. I’ve met dozens of new friends. I’ve witnessed awe-inspiring landscapes created by the hand of God (or whatever accidental artist you believe in). I’ve tried new cultures that challenged and bettered my own. I’ve eaten mouth-watering combinations of food … mmm, food.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I hope you surround yourself with positive, uplifting and zesty people in the coming year. Whatever your “Africa” may be, I hope you get there sooner than later. I know it’s possible with the help of adventurous friends.
Not only will these people make you a more confident, happier and fun-loving person, you may just get to ride their coattails to some amazing places. You may get to borrow their dreams while creating or remembering your own.
As Theodor Seuss Geisel once wrote: “Oh, the places you’ll go.”
Thanks to Alex Crevar, my editor, and others people at Paste and elsewhere that make this column and its publication possible. And one more time: thanks for airplanes and the places they’ve taken me.
Photo: Diana Robinson, CC-BY
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.