Alive for the Whole Shebang

Everything I want, I have. Money, notoriety, and rivieras. I think I even found God…” — Lana del Rey

When the above quote became crystal clear, the next question I asked was, Now what? When I reached that point in my life when I realized that the struggle was far behind me, for a moment I was left without a purpose. Having no purpose is a bit like death. What do you do when there is nothing left to do?

Friends insisted that the only way to find a purpose was to devote my life to someone else. A husband, a child, and permanent home are those things that give life meaning, and if only I wasn’t so stubbornly opposed to domesticity, I too could join the settled masses, living quietly in suburbia.

Uninspired by the lives of others, I set out to do the only thing I know how to do well, and that is to get out there and see the world. Again. For the 20th time. At that point in my life, I had no other alternatives, and was out of ideas about how to make it exciting.  My expectations were very low, and my only goal was to experience the world differently.

One of the reasons I started Eurocircle’s Travel Program was because I wanted to experience those places I would be reluctant to go to alone. I wanted to climb Machu Pichu, see Angkor Wat, and go on safari, but the Andes, jungles, and wild animals are not easy to face without a guide, and the comforts of a 5 star hotel. I thought that surrounding myself with young, like-minded people would turn the itinerary into a fun adventure.

And what and adventure it has been. Surrounded by others seasoned travelers, some of whom were much more daring than I am, I began to test my own boundaries and try things I never experienced before. With that came a loss of fear, and a willingness to take a nosedive into the unknown.

Once I experienced my first taste of pickled cat kebobs in Xian, raced through the streets of Siem Reap on tuk-tuks loaded with 13 plastered Eurocircle friends, and suffered through a disconcerting and humiliating Turkish bath with them, I started to drop my inhibitions. Not that I was a prude, but I was raised with certain ideas about proper conduct, especially for good company. I recently realized the those rules my parents and teachers taught made me into someone proper and generally dignified, but they also created a façade that looked polished on the outside, but screamed to get out from the inside.

As time progressed, and our travels became more exotic and adventuresome, I started to see destinations I visited dozens of times through different eyes. No longer was I interested in history, architecture and sights, I was more interested in the experiences, debauchery, and fun I could have along the way. I started to laugh more, prod travelers into doing wacky things in conservative places, and flipped the proverbial bird to tact and decorum.

It’s amazing how good it feels to say the first thing that pops into my head, not give a hoot about what critics think, and simply enjoy myself. Absurdity, madness, and hysterical laughter became my signature traits.

Today, as I screen potential travelers to join my trips, I no longer look for well behaved people who will act appropriately in foreign places and unusual situations. Instead, I look for that one silly dolt who will wake up a bus of sleeping travelers at midnight, belching “Happy Birthday Mr. President” with an Irish accent and no sense of rhythm.  If the performance includes an undignified lap dance, and a bottle of whiskey, the more likely we are to get along.

Once my protective armor started to crack, and the real me burst out, I realized that I had been asleep for years. Now that I am awake, and very much wired, things look very different. Everyday tasks and daily routines are accomplished with champagne in hand, and an irreverent smile. I drive a 100 mph, and never check the rear view mirror.  It’s Nutella for breakfast at last once a week, and who cares how big my bum gets!  I used to cringe when my coworkers affectionately called me The Big S (…BigAss 😉  ), but go ahead, admire it all!

Alive for the Whole Shebang,





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