“And then what?” Martha asked eagerly over her plate of tacos de cochinita pibil, a marinated pork unique to the Yucatan.
“Honestly,” I answered, taking a sip of chilled hibiscus tea, “We have absolutely no idea what is going to happen.”
Her face erupted into a huge grin.
“Fabulous!” she said, throwing down her napkin on the table then scanning my face with excited eyes. “You’re right, you know, and it took me a lot longer to realize that!”
I was having lunch with a woman we met on our travels. We’d rented her delightful home on the outskirts of Oaxaca City a few weeks previously, and now she was vacationing on the Caribbean coast. She’d let me know she was coming and kindly asked if I wanted some of the organic Oaxacan coffee I’d raved about during our stay in the colonial city.
Of course, I did.
In return, I was buying lunch at ‘La Buena Vida’, a beachfront restaurant on Akumal’s half-moon bay, a small town and turtle sanctuary south of Playa del Carmen.
“You are lucky that you’ve realized it so young,” she continued, then leaned towards me with a serious expression and whispered, “No-one does actually know what’s going to happen, you know, but so many people delude themselves into thinking they do.”
A smile crept across my face. It was like we were privy to one of life’s great secrets, and through knowing it, we formed a bond that surpassed polite niceties and socially acceptable small talk. We hadn’t known each other long, but I liked Martha. A retired anthropologist on the board of various creative and humanitarian projects who split her time between her beautiful home in Oaxaca filled with traditional crafts and her other in the states, she had a life I found interesting and inspiring. After that conversation, however, I felt a true bond.
Martha’s response to my telling her about our very loose plans of “Driving across Central America, then maybe South America, but, you know, that could change, we really don’t know how far we’ll get or where we will be in six months or…” was a pleasant surprise.
Usually, people wanted definite plans. Where we were going, how we were getting there, and what we were doing after that, then that, then that, then that. While asking questions which require answers is probably a pretty good conversation technique (otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a chat, would it?), I’d previously found myself wanting to make up definitive plans just because it seemed easier than telling the truth of not knowing what was next.
That conversation in Akumal was a few months ago.
At the time, I really didn’t know exactly what we were going to do after our Mexican visas expired and the lease on our apartment was up, except for a vague plan to drive to Guatemala, climb volcanoes and hang out on a lake. Of course, I knew there would be coffee, and lots of it. Of that I was sure. But that one (and very crucial) beacon of certainty in my future didn’t exactly constitute an acceptable life plan, apparently.
I’d known then that our plans were as fluid and ever-changing as the silvery waves crashing onto the rocky shore before us. Fun to make and a way of moving toward what we thought we wanted, while being aware of the very real chance that we might change our minds in the mean time.
Turns out that rather than changing our minds, Tyrhone made his up about something.
It seemed to come out of left field, much like his idea several years ago to sell it all and travel indefinitely. And just like that idea seemed too far flung and crazy to actually happen, this did to.
Not a plane, or a helicopter, but a powered paraglider called a ‘paramotor’.
He doesn’t just want to drive across the Americas, he wants to fly over it too.
He’s spent hours researching it as he does all of the things he is passionate about, almost hoping his obsession would die so he could go back to the safe, certain world of watching ‘Community’ marathons in his underwear. But his enthusiasm and desire to experience this unconventional sport only grew.
Of course, he is a little scared. Not only of crashing or injuring himself, but of not liking it as much as he hopes he will after such a large financial outlay (it ain’t cheap) and, I think, of failing. But we have decided to try; to take the first step and find out.
On February 3, we won’t be driving to the neighboring country of Guatemala like we thought we would.
We’ll be flying to California and heading out to the Blackhawk Paramotors ranch where Tyrhone will learn to fly a paraglider with a motor strapped to his back.
It’s going to be a hell of an adventure, no matter what happens.
And I couldn’t be prouder that he is choosing ‘doing’ over ‘not doing’ and faith over fear. Plus, I think he’s going to do great. I have complete faith in his abilities, and the dedication he’s shown to this dream over the last few weeks has convinced me how much he really wants this.
There’s a new sparkle in his eye which is also telling.
I guess it’s only by actually taking the plunge, however, that we are going to find out. We still have no idea what is going to happen, but one thing’s for sure, he won’t spend his life wondering, “What if?”
We are slowly mastering the art of not knowing, for it is only by walking (or flying) into the unknown that we discover what we’re actually capable of.
As his ground support team, I’ll no doubt be posting photos of all the delicious American food and cupcakes I’ll be eating (because, there’s gotta be something in it for me, right?). You can subscribe via email and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.