Dear Older (hopefully healthy!) Selves: Remember all of the talking you used to do about getting to the Cinque Terre one day? Well, this letter is about what happened back in 2011 when you were hoping to make it there, but it didn't work out.
You've probably forgotten a lot over the last few decades, so let us refresh your memories...
During the planning stages of that adventure to Europe, we learned that – due to devastating rains and the associated damage – we couldn't visit the Cinque Terre. We were forced to move on to another plan. Because our window for piecing our itinerary together was closing quickly, we decided to do something we had been wanting to do for a long time.
We blindly pointed at the map of Europe in order to pick the replacement for the time that would have been spent visiting the Cinque Terre. After confirming that it made sense, we committed to heading from London to…..
As bummed as we were about not being able to hit the Cinque Terre, we were growing increasingly excited about what we started calling "our travel experiment" in Bologna (oddly close to the CT). More specifically, we wanted to fully lean into the idea of a travel experience that was randomly selected and would (hopefully) unfold equally as randomly.
Why? This is where I'm going to insert the part about living in an uber-connected world and longing to, while in Bologna (or where-ever we may have selected), eschew that for a lets-roll-without-a-plan-and-external-influence sort of experience.
- No "Hey, where should we eat in Bologna?" tweets. (Are people still using Twitter, by the way?)
- No guidebook scouring. (I hope you're chuckling over the reference to guidebooks.)
- Nothing but the essential pre-planning needed to get by.
Two huge things happened.
1)It was about the best experiment ever.
Bologna far exceeded any expectations that we could have had. Uncovering the charm of the city, walking into un-researched restaurants, insisting that the locals select our dishes. 100% awesome.
We couldn't have orchestrated anything more enjoyable. That says a lot.
2)It was a game changing experiment.
Do you remember what happened when – at a random deli – you happened to sit below that framed Time magazine article? You both stood on your toes to read the fine print to learn that you were, by chance, in what was believed to be a top deli in what the article called the premiere food city in one of the most loved countries in the world. Remember that? If not, I'll remind you.
You lost it for a moment.
You had a huge realization about the power of freedom. The gift of being able to move around the world as you please. The insane luxury of being able to pick a travel destination by blindly pointing at a map. The ability to design your life.
We want you – old us – to remember that you got very emotional in that moment in that bustling deli. It was around Thanksgiving time, and the realization hit you at your core. You thought about people around the world who don't have food to eat, who don't enjoy the benefit of choice. We wanted to write this because, as you read this later in life, one or both or you may be sick or declining or who knows what else. There may only be one of you left reading this.
We hope that you're both healthy (and not too cranky) old men. Whatever the case, we want you to remember right now, that you had the ability to do things like this. So, however rough things may be for you in old age, remember that you got to experience things that surpass most people's wildest dreams.
You took time to be grateful in the moment and we want you to be grateful now – whatever your situation is.
You enjoyed the gift of freedom.
Okay... We're going to head back out into the world to enjoy more of Europe and life. We hope to continue to move through our days with the wisdom to know that we must maximize our fleeting time and also work to make the road easier for those who struggle – those who live in poverty, those who are alone, those who feel like the ghosts of society... those who don't have true freedom