Posted on September 26, 2015
Let’s turn the clock back to the second half of the 1960’s. I was a young kid in the third or fourth grade with no money, no job prospects and a wild imagination. Just a typical everyday kid. The word adventure would hardly be used in the same sentence as one describing the scrawny red-headed kid who barely had enough guts to talk to a grocery clerk or librarian. I may have been locked in my own shyness-induced world but I still had dreams. Dreams of seeing the world. Dreams of adventures around every corner. I could have been Walter Mitty’s Mini-Me.
Bucktoothed and bespectacled I could be found bent over a microscope in my living room searching for something that even I had no idea what it might be. I knew there was more to life than sitting in my house looking at the 100X magnification of plankton, blood cells and the scrapings from inside my cheek. The world was a big place and while I was at an age where I didn’t fully understand the concept of a big world I knew there were desirable things out there.
Sometime around the middle of grammar school I joined a monthly geography club through school where each month I would receive a small package in the mail with information about a far off country along with a map and a small trinket. I don’t know how many packages I received but one from Africa stood out. In that package was a small wooden elephant. No bigger than the size of an adult thumb that elephant was something I held on to for many years.
In my head I knew that this wooden elephant came to me all the way from Africa. Someone on the other side of the earth carved this little statue and somehow that little elephant made it into my hands. I knew then that someday I would visit Africa as well as Europe, Japan, Brazil and everywhere in between. But for the time being I was just a kid high on ambitions and low on resources, abilities and parental permissions.
Somewhere along the way I fell in love with maps. I guess it was always intriguing to look down at a colorful two-dimensional piece of paper and try to imagine the life that happens along the straight and curved lines connecting point A and point B. It didn’t matter if it was a city map, a state map or a map of a country. Somewhere on those flat pieces of paper I knew my adventures would begin.
My ‘adventures’ started in my mind with the help of maps, books, the library and looking back what was probably a very healthy imagination. My mind was able to fantasize all that awaited me without the static of the Internet and cable television.
I guess all good things have humble beginnings. My adventures began with a little wooden elephant.