Lots of people dream of travel but then procrastinate with excuses. I don’t have the money right now. The times are scary. I’ll go later. Pretty soon, the money, the time, or the energy runs out and leaves people only with regrets.
My father-in-law, Elmer, never had money or time. The family grocery business succumbed to the Great Depression, and leisure time was sucked up by overtime at the gasket factory. But he also had no regrets because he valued knowledge and had the courage to travel anywhere to find it.
As a young, single guy during the 1930’s, he hopped the freight train that rumbled through town. Now I’m not recommending this mode of travel, I’m just saying that you can go places if you’re creative.
He married late but luckily found a spirited woman, Pauline. They piled their family into the station wagon and drove to sites kids should see—the Rocky Mountains, Washington, DC, the Statue of Liberty, the World’s Fairs in New York and Montreal. Did they camp along the way? Of course. Did they sleep a night or two in the car? You betcha. But that made those nights in motels—with that new-fangled invention, air-conditioning—all the more special.
When the Cincinnati Reds or St. Louis Cardinals played an important game, the family went, scoring tickets at the gate. And they have Stan Musial’s autographed photo to prove it. When the space shuttle took off from Cape Canaveral, Elmer showed up there, too. Anything to experience history.
When my husband and I relocated to Germany, his parents were almost seventy and so proud to have bequeathed their love of adventure. They kept up with us through letters and the weather channel. But that was not enough. Pauline was the first family member to visit us in Frankfurt. And then one day, Elmer just showed up. He had saved his pension—not wasting a penny of it on a pre-emptive, long-distance phone call! And every day he walked the city to feel the vibe and meet the people. He still wasn’t done learning.
Though the couple never had much money, their spirits were always full because they didn’t sit around and wait for . . . whatever procrastinators wait for.
Today will become yesterday in a matter of hours. Make sure it doesn’t go away empty.