Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Columbus Day!

In spite of disputes concerning his actual accomplishments, most Americans still give Christopher Columbus credit for 'discovering' America. We all know that 'in the year of 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue'. Wikipedia offers more information on the man himself, but I'd like to take a moment to ponder the immense task the first explorers faced.

In this modern day of highways, countless signs, and GPS, I'm still directionally challenged. I usually figure out new places by getting lost in them...just a week ago, I had a good 10 minutes of sheer panic because a police officer made me detour around a street festival--which meant I had to veer from my carefully written down directions. So, for me, the thought of hopping onto a ship and sailing out into the middle of the ocean, with no real knowledge of what might happen next (without cell phones!) is unfathomable. The exploration of the 'new world' took spunk, my friends. Real heavy-duty spunk. I wish I had that kind of courage--because imagine the thrill of spotting a land you've never seen before after all of that time bobbing around in the Atlantic. Imagine leaving your own civilized, populated city and arriving at this spread of natural beauty, completely unmarred by the 'advancement' of man (because the Native Americans knew how to live with nature and didn't have to conquer it in order to make their place in the world). What a rush the entire experience must have been--the fear and exhaustion must have been worth the excitement of discovery.

Thanks to technology and all that we have learned over the past hundreds of years, there's little left unseen in this world...but the possibilities for personal discoveries are endless. This world has so much to offer...and I feel like I have so much left to experience. Have you seen 'the Bucket List' with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? If you haven't, you should. After I stopped crying, I really thought about that list we all have--those goals we'd like to accomplish in our lifetimes, the places we'd like to see, the experiences we'd like to have.

So, in honor of Columbus Day, try to explore something on your list. It can be challenging to try something new--we all have a million excuses to not do it--but let's think like explorers. Whether it's an idea, a place, other people, an activity...let's allow the thrill of discovery to displace our complacency and fear. It's been said a million times, but it's still sound advice and I think that Columbus would agree with the sentiment: carpe diem! Seize the day!

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