Don George, to say the least, has done his share of traveling and writing. He has worked as a Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, Salon.com, and Lonely Planet Publications. Along the way, he’s traveled to more than 65 countries. Recently, when his daughter and son graduated from college and high school, respectively, he had the idea to write his own version of a commencement address and to put down on paper some of what he’s learned through his life journeys. The result was recently published in the online magazine Recce. Some of his observations:
1. Pursue your passion – If I have one mantra that I’ve followed throughout my life, it’s this one. It started with that impetuous decision to live abroad for a year, and it continued at the end of that year, when I had to decide whether to go to graduate school in creative writing or comparative literature. After a sleepless Athenian night, I chose the path of my passion: writing. And it is no overstatement to say that everything that has happened to me professionally since then — the fulfilling, fortuitous life I have made as a travelling scribe for the past three decades — is a result of that fateful choice. So, my number one precept would be pursue your passion, and keep your mind open to the opportunities that pursuit provides.
2. Listen to your gut– Early in that Parisian summer, after a frazzling week trying to find an apartment, I was faced with two final choices. One was located in a fashionable tree-lined neighborhood and was sparkling clean and modern; in comparison, the other seemed dingy, threadbare and old-fashioned. But the latter building had towering wooden entrance-doors that opened off the rue de Rivoli, and a creaky filigreed elevator that rose ever-so-slowly to the third floor, and the apartment had airy French windows that opened right onto the Tuileries. Somehow it just felt right. I took it and the neighborhood quickly became my home away from home, where the local café-keeper automatically brought my café creme and the six-table sawdust bistro always soothed with perfect biftek-frites, and the soul-soaring Ile de la Cite was only a dusk-lit walk away. And when I came home each night, I felt like I was walking into the heart — threadbare, dingy, old-fashioned — of the city I loved.
When in doubt, silence the world around you and listen to your heart. Since then, whenever I have been traveling and trying to decide if I should follow Path A or Path B, I have heeded the still voice inside me. It’s never wrong. And it’s the same with the big decisions about Life-Path A or B too. Deep inside, we know which way we should go. The challenge is to cut through the din of our fears and imposed preconceptions and the roar of others’ expectations to hear the deep core.
All of George’s insights are well worth reading. Check them out.