Saturday, April 21, 2012

Waiting: the Anticipation of Adventure

I could hardly wait for my 15th birthday. There was nothing special about the birthday itself, but it meant that I was about to embark upon an adventure of a lifetime. Those days of early 1967 were filled with planning, saving money, reading the packing instructions and travel itinerary, and anticipating everything I could about what was ahead. The nights were even better. I went to bed every evening clutching in my mind the imaginary start of the 3000 mile railway journey from my little farm town in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, to the sprawling metropolis that was host to the world exposition in 1967, Montréal. I knew that if I went to sleep thinking about the trip I would almost certainly dream about it. Every morning I awoke more excited. My dream was coming true. And when that day of departure arrived, I felt as if I had lived it before, perhaps 100 times or more. It was those days of anticipation that prepared me for one of the greatest experiences of my life, up until then. It fed the craving of my soul to know more, to reach beyond my limited horizon, to meet others who knew nothing of my life: walking to a four room school in the country, picking apples as a summer job or peddling our single-geared bikes 20 miles one Saturday just for fun.

Today feels much like it did 45 years ago. Of course, there have been many extraordinary intervening adventures, too numerous to mention. But 10 days from now I will start a journey of a lifetime; one I have been dreaming about since before I was 15; a trip around the world. Five continents, 16 countries, more than 21 cities in 75 days; it is by any measure an Odyssey. Yet, in the same way as when I was 15, I do not dream of the sights to be seen. Rather I imagine the interaction with cultures about which I know nothing.  I see lessons I will learn about lands far away. I dream of deep discussions with some who live geographically on the other side of the globe (and in other ways farther away) but with whom I share a disease and the fears and frustrations that go with it. I know already that the days had will shake up my world, indelibly touching each of my senses.
But for now I must wait, and waiting is difficult for those of us who battle impatience. At first, waiting always seems like a waste of time. Let's get on with it! Just do it! Today is all we have! The religion of immediate gratification has gripped our culture, and me, and made waiting a sin. But I am learning, albeit slowly, that waiting, like the planning and preparation that goes into the making of a sensational meal, increases the appetite, enhances the experience and extends the memory. Imagine a world with nothing but fast food. Meals would be uninspired, unappreciated and unsavored. There is much to be said for waiting; not passively passing the time, but actively anticipating the adventure that is to come.
For some, Parkinson's disease starts a worrisome waiting game. Waiting fearfully for the tremor to migrate from the right side to the left side of the body. Waiting anxiously for the stiffness to trip them up and cause a fall. Anticipating in terror the potential loss of…well…of everything we dreamed it would be.
But for me, I choose to wait with anticipation for each adventure that may come. As for me, I will reach out and link arms with comrades from around this world, friends who refuse to give in, fellow warriors who will fight alongside. As for me, I will live the life I have, not the one I thought I would have.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."  E.M. Forster


  1. Bon Voyage Bob. I await your travel diaries with equal anticipation.

  2. I look forward to reading your travel diaries and being a virtual travel companion. You inspire those of us in the PD community.

  3. I will be following your adventures over the next year with great interest. Best wishes for a wonderful trip around the world.


    Jess McKenzie