Looking for Zebras

As I write this I’m sitting in the dining room of a quaint inn on the Rosneath Peninsula overlooking the North Shore of the Firth of Clyde. And I have absolutely no idea what any of this means!

After three flights and 24 hours of traveling earlier this week, I arrived in Scotland bleary eyed and slightly disoriented to this cloudy paradise. After all, I live within shouting distance of the United States’ southern border – to paraphrase a former Vice Presidential candidate, “I can see Mexico from my house.” Along with the actual and metaphorical distance in land and culture, I have to admit, it feels somewhat surreal and amazingly familiar.

Now I understand why the California towns of Ben Lomond and Inverness of my childhood were named after these Scottish villages. The damp sea air sweet with smells from vine covered gardens, old stone paths and seaside cottages tucked among the woods seem so familiar. This feeling also comes from something else that I had missed – international travel. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the thrill of figuring things out in a different country – currency, slang, geography (language, too – but not on this trip.)

I saw the “Zebra” sign and I shivered with anticipation because it meant that I was somewhere different. (Zebras, pelicans, puffins, pegasus – are all names of various types of pedestrian crossings around the world (each type designates how they are controlled – manual, sensor or automated lights, etc.) In the US we simply call them “cross walks”.

When I realized this today, I was embarrassed to admit that it had been over 20 years since I had travelled internationally (pardon me, Canada and Mexico, your neighbor status makes you seem like a visit to distant cousins.) If you had asked me after my last trip when my next trip it certainly would not have been before Y2K!

And yet, it did not happen that way. There are a million reasons why I hadn’t left the continent (save Hawaii) but today as I am walking through the town, I couldn’t remember one that seemed valid.

It is not like I haven’t accomplished anything over the last twenty-plus years. I’ve bought and sold several homes, lived in four states, gotten married, blended a family, started my own business, written two books, and flown enough to have several free trips to include this one.

Life – it seems – had gotten in the way of my intentions. I thought about how often this happens – in our lives and our businesses. The well-meaning “some days” often turn into never if they aren’t concreted with a plan and marked into a calendar. And international travel had dropped from a “must” to a “maybe.”

It is a stark reminder how easy it is to forget what moves us once it is no longer in front of us. We achieve what we focus on and through only my neglect had international travel fallen from view. It doesn’t matter how passionate or important it is to us – if the steps to get there are removed from our daily, weekly or even monthly routine, the chances for achievement diminish.

So as I sat here I made my “Big List of Ten” – new places to visit, extraordinary goals to achieve and amazing experiences I want to feel – all in the next ten years. Prioritized – I’ll work them into my annual planning as I had done in the past.

Looking for zebras could be on the list.

Waiting to be inspired no longer is.