In general, when people say, “I can’t travel” it’s for one of two reasons:
“I don’t have the time.”
“I don’t have the money.”
I can tell you from experience that neither of these have to be a barrier. We make those phrases into barriers by believing in that nasty little four-letter word ‘can’t.’ So we say “I’ll do it some day.”
But ‘some day’ never comes. Not unless we’re hit with something that makes us look at life a little differently. For me, the day was Sunday, April 17, 2011.
And the journey of the Midwestern Wanderer began.
Before that day, I had an ordinary enough job in a factory about fifteen minutes away, and ordinary enough dreams of one day being a published, self-supporting writer. My husband Jerry worked as an auto detailer at a local Ford dealership, and was content with that (in fact, he’s extremely good at it, and proud of it). Neither of our jobs paid a whole lot, but we were making ends meet, and we could afford occasional treats like dinner out at a favorite restaurant. We were even able to save a bit against future needs.
That Sunday, I was at home enjoying the day. I was doing laundry, surfing the ‘net, basking in the early warmth after a cold winter. About 1:30 PM, I got a panicked call from Jerry’s sister Sandy; Jerry had been patching drywall at their dad’s house and suddenly doubled over in pain. Sandy had wanted to call an ambulance for him, which he (of course) refused. She went to get him a drink of water and the next thing she knew, Jerry was gone and so was our minivan. She called me wanting to know where he might have gone.
Long story short, Jerry had driven himself to the hospital after suffering an aortic dissection. He was in surgery for four and a half hours while the surgeon replaced a heart valve, repaired the split aorta, and stitched back the coronary arteries that had torn loose. He was home until the end of September recovering (and hating every minute of the restrictions – no fishing, no mowing lawn, no washing dishes or ANYTHING that would extend his arms away from the healing chest muscles). As soon as he’d recovered enough to be aware of things other than pain, he started saying, “I’ve always worked. We’ve never been anywhere. We’ve never done anything. I want to do more.”
I was all for that. I’d been saying for years that there were more important things than work. Trouble was, we’d had very limited insurance when Jerry went into the hospital, insurance that I had through work and had never looked at too closely. It was through work, therefore it had to be something decent, right?
I had been paying for absolute garbage which covered almost nothing. Six months after the surgery, the bills started rolling in, and no sooner had I arranged payment plans with (I thought) all of the myriad medical organizations we owed money to, three more bills appeared.
By late March of 2012, I was sick of trying to find the money each month that went to nothing but bills, angry at myself for allowing it to happen through my own inattention, and frustrated by looking ahead to years upon years of this grind until all the medical bills were paid off – something that wasn’t going to happen until late 2026, by my calculations, and we’d be living at or above our means the entire time.
Then came Easter 2012. Jerry and I, though some coincidence, both had the same three-day weekend from work, and heart and soul I rebelled against what I saw as my inevitable future. I said to Jerry, “You said you wanted to do more, travel more. I’ve never been to Mount Rushmore, and I have no idea what Wall Drug is. Let’s go there.”
So we did. We had the time, we found the money, and my mind opened up to possibilities and dreams and experiences that would never have existed for either of us had I in that moment believed in the word “can’t.”
And the Journey continues…
Because success, the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, is all A Matter of Perspective…