Monday, August 27, 2012

Jet lag...

Missing the family and contemplating
missed opportunity.
As I lay awake at 2:30 Sunday morning combing Netflix on my iPad looking for something new to watch while my family peacefully dozed away, just as they should, I realized that, just over 24 hours since I stepped off my fourth and final airplane after about 8,000 of traveling, I was still on Australia time.

I also realize that I had almost completely disconnected--and not entirely by choice--from a life that's grown hectic and complicated over the last year or so during my fortnight of travel. When I could find an internet connection that didn't demand the blood of my first-born, I was able to leave a few cryptic messages for my wife and for my boss, but for the most part, I was off the grid and clear across the globe exploring a land that has captured a corner of my soul.

I have amends to make here at home--and likely hundreds of e-mails to answer. I have responsibilities again. Duty.

But, as they say, tomorrow's a brand new day. Today, I thought I'd share a tale or two... and a few thoughts about a place that I miss more than I should and can't wait to get back to. That's likely going to be interesting news to a few folks, but it's fuel that will eventually prove my theory that fly fishers are wanderers, not meant to spend too much time in one place chasing one fish.

For clarity, I'm not going to disappear off the face of the earth and turn up years later in some outback tavern schlepping $10 (AUD) beers and kitschy advice to tourists and sheep ranchers or anything. But I am going back one day, because there's so much of it I haven't seen. I'm going to take my family, because as I stood atop seaside vistas watching the Pacific roll in or snorkled the grass flats of the Great Barrier Reef, all I wanted to do was share it with them. As I cast to strange fish in crystal clear water within sight of the signs that warned me not to do exactly what I was doing because some giant prehistoric lizard was once spotted where I stood, I wanted to let my wife and kids know that I was all right, and that, sometimes, you have to take risks to reap rewards.

Risk and reward. I wasn't built for Wall Street, but I'm warming to the idea that nothing ventured truly does mean nothing is gained. In this case, I was largely blessed with perspective. How so? Well... I guess you'll need some yourself if you're to understand this whole situation, huh?

I suppose it's time I come to grips with a mid-life crisis. I'm apparently having one. My wife, who is already blessed with the perception that I seem to lack, is absolutely right. I'm just short of a hot mess these days, what with my youth slipping through my fingers like sand sliding through an hourglass. This was reinforced over the last couple of weeks, as I stumbled upon many a young face in Oz... faces belonging to wanderers who had ended up Down Under, enjoying life in the tropical north where the rainforest drapes over the beach.

I was, at the same time, envious and horrified--these kids are just a few years older than my own, and yet they've traveled the globe with no particular destination in mind (Where in the hell are their parents? And why didn't I venture abroad at that age?). Today, at 43, I can only acknowledge my regrets and bless a different fate on my own children, who I hope don't wait as long as I did to have strange stamps placed into their passports, as difficult as it might be to see them shoulder a backpack and board a jetliner without me.

Regrets? Sure ... anyone who doesn't have any is lying to themselves. Perhaps that comes with such a crisis of purpose at my age--lots of "what ifs." That said, as I got home and had my whole family at the airport to meet me, I was relieved, and I knew that, in time, my little self-inflicted situation would pass. And I believe it will... but I don't think my urge to see more of this world will. That, I'm afraid, is the product of this crisis--I have to know what I missed. Simple as that.

I hope, too, that my wife and my children will want to venture with me to far-away places, and then wander farther off the beaten path, away from the manicured resorts and into obscure destinations where signs warn you of crocodiles and box jellyfish. I hope they'll understand that my life won't be complete until I land a Murray cod on a fly, or be the among the first to cast flies to God-knows-what swims along the flats of the outer reef.

I've come to grips with my wandering soul ... albeit perhaps a bit late in life. I don't intend to be selfish about it, but I do intend to answer its call now and then.

While I'm still young enough to do something about it.


  1. Somehow I knew that you'd fall in love with the down under. It's a place I wish I had taken the opportunity to visit all those years ago when I had no attachments and enough money to make the trip. Life is a terrible thing to waste.

  2. Sure makes me think of all the things to experience out there outside of my own little bubble. Sure, my kids can come along for the ride too.

  3. In 2007 I moved to Germany for a year, work-related. My youngest daughter decided to put school on hold and go with me. It was her first trip to Europe, we lived in North Bavaria, she spent a year over there travelling for a week at a time, trains, and staying in youth hostels. She'd come back for a few days, then off again. We made several trips together, Italy, Czech Rep., France...It was an amazing experience for her and me; seeing things through her eyes was like being there the first time.
    I was 20 years older than you that trip, and it was well worth the wait. Enjoy it all, whether it's now or later. I only wish her mom had lived to see it too.

  4. Mike... thanks for that ... it means the world to me. I intend to make this the first of many far-flung trips in the future. I'm grateful the chance, and I can't wait to take my family with me next time.

    And Howard... if I learned anything, my friend, it's that it's never too late. Start saving those pennies... with a little research and some planning, it won't break the bank.

  5. Jealous. Australia has a special place in my heart and is one of those places that no matter what, I will go one day.

    I have been in those situations where I truly wish my family was with me as I look at some amazing spectacle that feels like one of those "once in a lifetime" moments.

    I think it says a lot about your love and commitment to your family when you are in the middle of paradise and can't help but think of them.

  6. You're exactly right... it would have been much more enjoyable with the family around me ... but it was still amazing. I highly recommend the trip. It's just so big, and there's so much to see... If I had a year to do it...

  7. Right there with you, brother. Right there.