I wrote this little story of mine 4 years ago, while backpacking through South America. Was wondering what I could write about as another blog entry, when I remembered this. A little while ago, but as relevant as ever. Makes me smile. Hope it does at least that for you.
Sometimes the most unexpected things take place and leaves you smiling and shaking your head. Actually I'm smiling and shaking my head just thinking about one of those times.
Travelling through Brasil, I was in Rio waiting for the right winds so I could go hang gliding. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro was a must do, and I was waiting no matter what. While I was sitting next to an older gentleman on the beach, we started chatting. He was interested in going gliding and was checking it out. As we talked I found out he was actually a pilot for American Airlines for the last 20+ years, and a fighter pilot before that. That definitely piqued my because I had wanted to be a fighter pilot since I was a little boy. My dad was an aircraft mechanic for many years, so you can imagine where that came from.
I asked questions about his life and all the places he'd been too. How he liked what he did, and he got round to asking about me. So I gave him my life story in a nutshell, about how I wanted to be a pilot, but life had other things in store, how I play indoor hockey for my country and just been backpacking through South America because I loved it.
At one point I told him how amazing it was that he was a pilot especially since it hit close to home and that I was definitely jealous. And than the most profound thing happened. He turned to me and said something along the lines of "Son, I wish I did what your doing. Traveling the world." I laughed and said "You've been too so many more places than me though, and actually getting paid for it." He responded "I have, but I haven't got to see the places like you have. Your experiencing life, doing it while your young. I'm the jealous one."
I turned and thought about it for a while Thinking of all the amazing countries I've visited so far, and how traveling, truly traveling is something you can't describe, only experience. And than I thought how it, along with hockey, always has me broke, bank balance at zero. But that was for the briefest of moments, because money is paper. You just can't buy living, truly living.
That was a trip in which I found my favourite country and city to date, had some really tough times, even more amazing times, and took a route through South America no one I've ever met has. But that remains the most profound moment of it all. Actually the most profound moment in all my travels.
Its puts me in awe, how the navy fighter pilot, doing what I always wanted too, thought I was the lucky one. So no, I'm no fighter pilot, or a pilot at all. In fact I probably never will be. I decided a while ago I wanted to leave this world knowing I had helped change it for the better, even just a bit. And I'm not there yet, but I will be.
So I'm sitting here now, halfway across the world, 12 hour time difference from home, thinking and reflecting. Been meaning to tell this since it happened, in the hope it might actually affect someone else. Finally got around to it.
It wasn't any revelation to me, or dramatic opening of my eyes. I've always known how blessed I am to have the means to do what I want, when I want. And with a family who supports all I do. Traveling is so amazing because I know I have an even better home to come back too.
Still, to have someone who was living my childhood dream, flying planes, and staying in fancy hotels. Tell me, who was broke, jobless and staying in hostels that I was the lucky one. That was something.