Above The Clouds
The New York Times just released their 52 Places to Go in 2014 and now my head is spinning with travel envy. In a previous life, I would have thought - blah blah blah, life is so unfair. I'll never be able to afford this. Blah Blah Blah. And then crankily look at the travel photos of a few people in my social network who have somehow managed to find the time and money to travel the world every few months.
But I recently started reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (see below) and I think this book is going to change my life. I'm only on page 96. Actually, I think someone could have told me everything that the book says a few years ago and up until now, I wasn't ready to hear it. So the first habit or tenant is:
We are responsible for our own effectiveness, for our own happiness and ultimately, for our circumstances.
Or something like that.
What?!? Are you kidding me? Don't my genes shape who I am, my family background, my parents, my economic circumstances?! I've spent a significant amount of time trying to search for clues as to who I am and who I should be by looking at the stories of my ancestors. If my grandfather, mother, father, sister are / was a writer, does that mean I have a writing gene? If my great uncle, grandmother and mother have / had artistic talent, should I be utilizing that talent as well? Am I related to Napoleon? (that's a whole different story)
So far, I have found nothing linking me to a hidden family fortune or long lost, European family castle (if only), but I did find that in every generation of my family - there was someone who overcame a great struggle, powering through hardships not just to thrive but to survive. My great, great grandmother left her home in Norway as a teenager to come to America and while traveling by boat, managed to renew the faith of her fellow travelers when all hope was lost. Another ancestor lost a child while traveling from Switzerland, through Canada to Minnesota only to be rewarded for their journey with the additional hardships of living in one of the coldest states of North America. And that's just on my father's side of the family.
At first, the thought of being responsible for our own circumstances is kind of upsetting. It's overwhelming to think that there's no special plan, or crazy event in our future that will throw us on the path to greatness. But in actuality, it's about the most empowering way you can look at life. You have just freed yourself from waiting around for something great to come about. You have freed yourself from envying those you think have better luck than you - because in reality, you make your own luck. You have just freed yourself from thinking that Jesus, God, or your mother will save you. They may give you the strength and guidance to tackle new challenges but certainly don't orchestrate the future. Because..
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Oliver Wendell Holmes
That being said - I'm looking for a travel buddy this year. Who's game?