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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wanted: Expereinces and Memories

JULY 22:  It's 6:35 am on a Sunday and I'm on a plane about halfway between Sacramento and Phoenix. I'm traveling on business and will spend the next 5 days as a member of a visitation team to another parks and recreation agency.  It's for a re-accreditation visit where we will evaluate the evidence and report our findings.  We are the eyes and ears of a commission that will determine if the agency we are visiting remains in compliance with standards our industry has identified as best practices.   But that's not why I'm writing this.

In the late 1990's, I let it be known that I wanted to travel and see the United States. When I was a kid in the late 1960's and thoughout the 70's, our family took several family vacations by car and motorhome to places throughout the West - Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, etc.  We saw Yellowstone,  The Grand Canyon, and Disneyland.  We rafted down the Snake and Salmon Rivers, toured Butchart Gardens, the Olympia Brewery and the old Shipwreck Aquarium.  We saw lots of things, but once high school ended, my travels ended.  For about 20 years I stayed close to home.  College and work were, for the most part, limited to Northern California.  I'm not complaining.  I met my beautiful wife here, got my college degrees here, have family here.  Sacramento and the north state are home for me.  But I always felt I was missing out on seeing other parts of the country, other adventures.

So here's the point of this post - I made it known that I wanted to travel to other parts of the country.  I once heard a person say 'let the universe know what you want and it will . . . . something, something'. I honestly don't remember how the rest of the saying went, but I interpreted it as this: if you want to do something in your life, you have to let others know.  I don't think of this as rubbing a magic lamp or praying, but rather as sharing with others your desires as a means of setting your own will in motion.

Example:  I never had the opportunity to play organized baseball.  I love the sport, but it was not something my parents considered for me when I was young.  In my mid-forties I shared with a buddy my regret over having never played and told him that I would love to play in a camp just to see if I could handle it.  I had played in a few softball leagues, but it just wasn't baseball.   For my birthday (I think it was my 44th) he gave me a garbage bag with about 50 baseballs in it - discarded baseballs from games he had officiated.  The very next year he told me about a fantasy baseball camp that was starting up in a nearby town.  So I had put it out there - I wanted to play baseball - and the opportunity presented itself .

Okay, so I'm romanticizing this whole process (I could just as easily searched the Internet for baseball camps and probably found something), but this wasn't the same as searching for songs on iTunes.  It wasn't a thing I wanted or a place I wished to visit.  It was an experience. More than that, it was an experience I felt I needed in order to: 1) say I had done it, 2) know if I was both physically and mentally capable of handling it, 3) know if it was an experience I would look back on and ,'I'm so glad I did that' or 'well, now I know I don't want to do it again'.  I felt I needed this experience in order to be a better person.  Honestly, I don't know if it has done that, but it's nice to say I've done it (especially at middle age) and I've made some great friends through that experience.  Plus, I got to play ball with my son!

Travel was the same way.  It's hard to afford travel when you have family and all the financial obligations that go with paying for kids' sports, college tuitions, music lessons, mortgage, cars payments, and on and on.  But the universe seems to have responded to my need and brought both the people and opportunities into my life that have made traveling possible.  Not a lot of travel, but enough to take me to places like Canton, MI, Grove City, OH, and Bellevue, WA - places I might not ever think of going, but have had the pleasure of visiting.  Getting to see really cool museums in Kansas City and Atlanta, the campuses of Ohio State and University of Michigan, and to have an office for 4 days in the first ever office of NASA in Houston were all pretty cool experiences.  Walt Disney World, Fenway Park, New York's Central Park, and Gettysburg are all places I wanted to see and fate has taken me there (for those of you who have travelled extensively, this may seem mundane, but not for me).  In fact, as I think of it, my limited travels have given me some pretty unique experiences, such as meeting a former president in Houston and catching a Home Run Derby ball in Seattle during the 2001 All Star Game event.

My point here is that if there is something you really want - a heart's desire - make it known.  Keeping those wants and needs to yourself is simply denying the universe the chance to bring the people and opportunities into your life that can 'align the stars'.  And perhaps the universe is simply waiting, waiting, waiting . . . . for you to ask.

One other thing about sharing what it is you really want - putting your money where your mouth is.  I've learned that if I say I want something and then opportunities come along, I have to act on them.  Sometimes this means some work on you part.  For me this meant taking on additional responsibilities - responsibilities I did not have to take on.  It also meant getting certified, which meant studying and passing an exam.  And it means overcoming fear - fear that you might have to go it alone with no familiar faces in sight.  It's risky, but no more risky than starting a new job or going to a new school.  You just gotta put yourself out there!

That's it for now.  Gotta get ready for this bird to land in Austin, Texas.  Glad I said something, paid attention, and took advantage of the opportunities life brought my way.

        “I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.” - Lucille Ball

        "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Stay hungry. Stay foolish." - Steve Jobs
        "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been'."  - John Greenleaf Whittier
        "Take a chance!  All life is chance.  The person who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare." - Dale Carnegie 

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