Wednesday 1 January 2014

Blessed are they who receive - and also those who request

So here we are, on the cusp of another new year, full of who knows what? Good things, we all hope. If the media are to be our guide, the source of many of those good things is in our own hands. Thinner, fitter, healthier, nicer... yeah (yawn), all that - but more interesting things can also come about with a bit of personal effort. This can actually be as simple as overcoming diffidence and making a request. As my father used to say, "Those who don't ask, don't get". (Actually, what both parents really said, now I come to think of it, was the much less inspiring "Those who ask, don't get. Those who don't ask, don't want." I was a child of frugal Depression era parents. It takes some shaking off.)
Asking for stuff last year led me to doing a barrel roll in a Tiger Moth, a 3-day tramp in Fiordland, seeing wild kiwi on a beach in the dark, surfing the waves in a boat surrounded by a pod of the world's rarest dolphins, trundling on a train past volcanoes and over soaring viaducts. And all that was without even leaving the country. Adding in more ambitious brazenness brought me a fabulous Alaskan cruise, stays in a half-dozen fancy Fairmont hotels in Canada, a lovely walk with Lois through the woods in Vancouver, more trains through the Rockies, and encounters with elk. Dialling it back a bit still got me to Australia for another luxury train experience and another fancy resort.
Arranging things like that is satisfying - but even better is the wonderful surprise that occasionally lands in my inbox out of nowhere. Last year that was South Africa: 10 days of lovely people, beautiful scenery, fun and of course amazing animals, all linked together by an inspiring determination to save rhino from the poachers who will wipe them out if nothing is done. It was a vivid and unforgettable experience, with up-close encounters with lion, cheetah, leopard and rhino, a long helicopter ride and camping in the bush... It was glorious.
So the obsessive-compulsive email-checking behaviour will continue this year, just in case another invitation to somewhere fabulous drops unexpectedly into the inbox. And in the meantime, other trips have been made to happen: to Tahiti, Chicago and Las Vegas, to Paris, England and Scotland, and from Boston to Montreal with Silversea again. Watch this space.

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