We're Comin' to America! What Next??
August 2, 2000
Everyone keeps asking me about the Odyssey, but I've forgotten a lot of what actually happened. Luckily, we've published a bunch of photos and stories on the World Trek website, so we can all go back and check. However, I feel that the experiences I've been through aren't just memories or images anymore; they have actually become a part of me. The Monica who exists today is a product of the opportunities I've had and the choices I've made up to this point. The Odyssey was special for me, but I also think that each of us is on a personal Odyssey: that of our own lives. Think about it. Whoever you are today is a product of what you have chosen and what you've done with your opportunities up until this point, too. Each day of your life is a gift. What are you going to do with it?
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What lessons have you learned today? What ideas float around in your head? What do you dream about? The main lesson I have learned from almost 17 months total of travelling with the Odyssey is: Dare to dream, then work to make that dream a reality.
The world may seem overwhelmingly vast, but we trekkers have found that, all across the globe, there are open-hearted, caring, and dedicated people who envision a better world and who constantly work towards that reality. You can be one of these people. Don't worry about what the "rest of the world" might think. You WILL make a difference. Believe it. You're trying to live your life in a meaningful way. It WILL happen! Fear might stop you. So might circumstances. Your priorities might get mixed up over time. That's normal. But, believe that you CAN make a difference, and you will!
My top ten list of cool places I visited on the trek:
10) Isla Taquile and Isla Amantani in Lake Titicaca near Puno, Peru
9) The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, a day's hike from Cuzco, Peru
8) The mud mosque of Djenne in Mali: an AMAZING building made entirely of mud!
7) The longest bench in the world at Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain and a side trip to Gaudi's cathedral
6) The nighttime market at Place Jama El Fna in Marrakech, Morocco
5) Hwange Park to see the elephants of Zimbabwe
4) The most holy Shi'a Muslim shrine in the world: in Mashhad, Iran
3) The Nek Chand rock garden in the model city of Chandigarh in Punjab, India
2) Snorkeling off Sabang in Puerto Galera on the island of Mindoro, Philippines
and the number one cool place I visited is....
1) The city where I fell in love with my soulmate, Genesis: Istanbul, Turkey!!!
Excuses that you might hear when you start making a difference in the world:
You're too young!
You're too old!
You're not qualified enough!
You never went to college! You never even went to high school! You never went to primary school!
You have a history of (fill in the blank: drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorder, dysfunctional behavior, prison time)!
You're dreaming too big! You'll never be able to pull that one off!
You don't come from the right background!
You're a _____ (fill in the blank). How could you ever dream of succeeding?
We've tried that before, it'll never work!
Our founder, Jeff Golden, has a quote that has been on our website since its inception. The full text of it is in the sidebar, but here's the main point: Be bold. Be daring. Dare to dream, then commit yourself to making those dreams become reality. You'll find that things will happen to help you along the right path. We at the Odyssey are doing this, and if we can do it, then you can certainly do it too.
W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951|
(Murray and his team decided to climb Mt. Everest)
"We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money -- booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"
Understand how your actions affect other people's lives. To do this, ask yourself these questions: What do you take for granted and why? How and where do you spend your money? What companies do you support, and why? What are your values and beliefs? How do you incorporate those values and beliefs into your life? Where do you find strength? When do you reach your limit? Reassess where you are at all times, and always ask yourself how your actions are changing the world that we live in. Believe me: they are.
No one knows what the future holds: disaster, death, and the slow numbing of your mind can be very real. However, if you act as if each day is a gift, a new opportunity, another choice for you to make, then you'll realize the importance of your existence on the planet. You are unique and special. You make a difference. Now go out there and do it!
envision - imagine
overqualified - too highly trained
dysfunctional - not working well
inception - beginning
Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day as he was walking he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to see someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and he wasn't dancing but instead he was reaching down to the shore and picking something up and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean."
"I guess I should have asked, 'Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?'"
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"The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don't throw them in they will die."
"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one."
p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...firstname.lastname@example.org
Abeja - Great Wall, Great Trekkers! Now what?!
Jasmine - Homecoming
Kavitha - The End! World Trek is Done!
Kevin - Bienvenue à Paris! Welcome to Paris!
Jeff - Our Founder says Farewell to the World Trek and Hello to the U.S. Trek
Yang-Yang - Yang-Yang says One Last Goodbye
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