Most people I know have the pleasure of planning and looking forward to an annual holiday or, at the very least, every second year. Options are plentiful and there is an abundance of choice from camping to luxurious destinations along the coast or in the bush, mountains and cities depending on your preference and the size of your paycheck.
Average, working, white South Africans simply take going on holiday for granted even if it’s merely going away to visit family.
I know. I did. You work. You take leave. You go on holiday.
But, my holidays came to an abrupt end – like most other things after my accident. Much of what I had grown accustomed to suddenly changed – mainly due to physical and financial constraints. Only then did I truly understand how spoilt I had been. Isn’t it amazing how I only began to appreciate much of my life – things I had taken for granted – only once they were gone? Sad.
I don’t begrudge anybody having a holiday and least of all my friends. I see how hard they work. They deserve the break. But, I’ve also learned that to be able to work and earn one’s own money is a joy and privilege that most people take for granted.
For years now I have listened, enviously and longingly, to my friends planning their trips. I always feel their excitement and enthusiastically share in their joy.
Secretly, I cried myself to sleep many nights.
I knew – or at least I thought I did – that the chances of me ever getting an opportunity to go away on holiday again were incredibly slim – unless I were lucky enough to win the lottery – which is also ridiculously impossible since I never buy a ticket.
That reminds me of the story of a man who prays to God to ask Him to help him win the lottery. God answers: Hey, c’mon meet me halfway and, at least, buy a ticket.
I was lucky enough to meet my Comrades legs and I completely lost my heart to him – but, not before I made him run 90 km and he handed over the medal. I have my standards, you know!
Anyway, he invited me to visit him in Port Elizabeth. So, with the blessing of my family and the encouragement of my friends, I was soon planning a holiday to the sea.
My initial enthusiasm was soon replaced by overwhelming panic as I totally underestimated the difficulties of going away and leaving my comfort zone for two whole weeks.
I mean, not too many people have to consider lugging their own bloody toilet halfway across the country when going on holiday. A real shitty situation – isn’t it?
A true Earth Angel saw my distress and took the liberty of buying me a brand-new, foldable shower-come-crapper-chair-on-wheels. The idea of traveling then became far less daunting.
But this special lady’s real gift to me was not a commode, but rather her three powerful words:
Don’t be scared!
Her calm, sensible expression was so poignant – like soothing balm for my troubled soul.
Don’t be scared: of love and rejection; adventure and disappointment; joy and sorrow; commitment and failure; happiness and heartache. In essence don’t be scared of truly living a full, meaningful life.
Isn’t this exactly what I am all about? I fly. I fall. So what? I get up. Hmmm… okay, I have to ask somebody to pick me up. But, honestly Tracy, what the hell have you got left to lose?
From that moment on, my mindset went through a complete transformation. I let go of my fears and I became out-of-my-skin excited for my first holiday in what-felt-like-a-hundred-years.
I also needed to see for myself that Sexy Legs was genuinely-who-he-said-he-was. Besides, I wasn’t going completely alone. I was taking my care assistant along and I knew that help was only a phone call away. And if I was really unhappy I could get back on a plane and come home.
Then the most important catch-a-wake-up-slap of all:
As we drove to the airport, it dawned on me that my care assistant had never even been to our local airport.
I knew that she had never been on a plane but, I never really gave it much thought other than to worry about myself and my own needs. How is she going to cope with me all by herself?
Sheesh, here I was feeling so proud of myself for being so brave in going on this big adventure. Not once did I think about her joy, excitement, courage or fears.
Here right in front of my eyes was a strong, dedicated, compassionate woman who epitomized the phrase: Don’t be scared!
And I simply took her for granted. How dare I?
She is 41 years old – my age on a bad-hair-day – and she has never seen the sea; never set foot on a beach; never had a holiday – away – anywhere – in her entire life.
Up until then I had considered holidays a right. How dare I?
I’m humbled and privileged that I could share these special moments with my care assistant. What a joy it was to watch her experiencing these things for the first time in her life.
She also made new friends and I don’t think that I have ever seen her smile so much.
If I die tomorrow, at least I know that I have made a difference in one more person’s life and she can be rest assured that she has forever changed me.
If you are lucky enough to be going away on holiday this Christmas please stop a while and reflect on how blessed you truly are. Then spare a thought for those less fortunate.
And, don’t be scared!
Pssst…Sexy Legs turned out to be more than everything-he-said-he-was and some. Mmmmm…
I don’t know if this care giver is still with you but I know what you are talking about as far as watching a Swazi woman who has never flown fly – or travel to a strange place with no friends they know when they arrive – or wonder if they will survive the trip as well. I once sent a Swazi woman on her own to the United States and back, I was scared for her the whole time. She was full of stories when she returned and became sort of a hero to other women. I get scared to but I go to my fear. Usually there is no way around it – no way over it or under it. In order to get past my fears I have to go to it and face it. Scared – hell yes I get scared and every fiber of my being is scared. Isn’t it interesting that being afraid of something is spelled “scared” and healing that leaves a mark is also spelled “scared”. Perhaps facing ones fears leaves a scar for all to see. Bill
This post addresses my biggest problem – I am a scardy-cat! Fear is the thing that stops me from doing what I want to do. Your friend gave you excellent advice – thanks for sharing it.
Sharon, I think that most of us are scared of the unknown; scared to take that first step. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be cautious. But, being over cautious all the time can be suppressing. Try to live a little more. Come on, if I can, you can. Don’t be scared!
Sharon — I think that most of us are scaredy-cats even if we don’t want to admit it. I keep asking myself… what is the worst that can happen? That seems to help. Be brave. If I can, you can. Don’t be scared!
Happy to hear you had a good holiday after all this time. It is so good for the soul just to get away from our usual suroundings for a while. Hope that this is the start of more holidays for you, now that you have taken the plunge ! You go girl !! xxx
Thank you Jillian. I look forward to many more holidays. I hope.
Thank you, Jillian. I look forward to many more holidays if possible. 🙂
Wow, is an angle on travelling that I rarely think of. I run South Africa Travel Online and this info could be very useful for our readers, would you mind us publishing a summary of the info in this blog entry in one of our newsletters? Of course we’ll credit you and link back to this blog post.
Thanks for visiting my blog. You are welcome to share it with your readers and I would appreciate the link back to my blog. Please also have a look at my other posts on travel. See links below.
Kewl, thanks 🙂
Hi Tracy, very inspirational, for me and my journey through life currently
Thank you xxxx
Thank you, Craig. So glad! 🙂
Tracy, I so enjoyed reading your post. We do take many things for granted and I for one have to be reminded how privileged I am to do all the traveling I do. Sometimes it feels a bit of a drag being away from my home but I remind myself of those who never get away and I move on. I had a friend Hennie who taught me a big lesson. When I rolled my eyes and said we are off to the bush house or we are going to stay with the children overseas and made out that it was a bit of a drag she would say “AGH I would do ANYTHING to travel and have a holiday. This all means nothing to me” waving her hands around her home. She died last year after two years of fighting cancer and being too sick to get away and I just think of her and then I put all negative thoughts out of my head. I try to enjoy it while I can. Yes, think of all those people who have never been away or seen the sea! We are indeed privileged. I am SO happy you managed to get away and I am glad you were not “scared.” Keep up your inspiring writing.
Hi Penny — thank you for your lovely comment.
Isn’t it strange how we can have so much and then still be so ungrateful? Why is it that we always WANT more?
We all need a good wake-up call from time to time.
Haven’t been here in awhile. Glad you went away. Sounds wonderful to see Sexy Legs in his natural habitat. Taking a trip is something probably most of the world doesn’t have the resources to do. Glad your care taker could get away with you!
I feel fortunate I’ve gone away so many times on great vacations. Not sure if I will be away this Christmas. I will say that my best Christmas in m life — outside of young childhood — happened several years ago when my husband and I told the families we were going to do something different. We flew to LA and drove the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco.
We spent Christmas walking the beach instead of freezing in NE. A lovely trip filled with beauty and hiking and great weather – the 50’s for us was warm!
Hi G — so good to see you again. Thank you for your comment.
Glad to hear that you have some lovely “warm” holiday memories.
Yes, it was wonderful to see Sexy Legs in his natural habitat. 😉
Thank you for sharing – I really enjoy following your blog. You make me count my blessings on a daily basis.
Glad to know you are enjoying my blog. Thank you! 🙂
Tracy, You really have the ability to get to the real essence of life! You inspire me to look at everyday things differently. I am so glad that I had the privilege of meeting you and your amazing carer. You both touched my heart.
Hi Wilma — thanks so much for your lovely comment. So happy to have met you too. 🙂
I loved following your thought processes and changing mindset and emotions as I read through this, Tracy. And it sounds as if you had a good time – I’m so glad!
Hi Deborah — thanks for taking this emotional journey with me on my blog. 🙂
This definitely is a lesson in appreciating the smaller things. Vasbyt!
Thank you, Nick. 🙂
Awe inspiring as always. It makes my petty day to day stresses look totally unimportant. Thank you Tracy for reminding me.
Thank you for sharing my day-to-day life with me here on my blog, Guy. 🙂