"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."
~ Clarence Budington Kelland
I often wonder where I got my wanderlust from. Could it have been the American television shows I watched as a child? Or from the stories I heard on the BBC World service about weird and wonderful places like Mongolia and Zanzibar? It seems, however, the culprit was far closer to home. In fact, very close indeed. That culprit was my father.
You see my father is a traveler. Always has been and always will be. He spent much of his time traversing the globe on business. I remember trying to hide myself in his worn leather suitcase as he was set to depart on yet another trip. "Take me with you dad. Take me with you," I would squeal. He never did.
Where was he off to this time, not that it really mattered. Anywhere exotic would have been fine with me. Brazil? Greece? France? Marrakesh? I never really did know but what I knew was that he loved to travel, and the stories he told would keep me up all night with wonder in my eyes and wanderlust in my mind. I desperately wanted more than just a story. I wanted the real thing. I wanted to experience what my father so eloquently recounted in my bedtime stories. I wanted. And I wanted it right then.
Yes. It was my father who instilled this crazy urge to travel the world. Yes. It was my father who instilled the urge to push myself to the limits. To see. To see me and to see others. To really see.
But there is so much more to my father than his indulgence in travel. So much more...
I love my father. I love his generous spirit. I love the way he is always there for his kids. I love the way he embraces life. I love the way he is just himself. I love my father. I love his respect and compassion for my mother. I love my father. What I love most is the fact that he allowed me to lead my life the way I wanted to. He could have insisted I continue down the long family tradition of budding businessmen. It would have destroyed me. And he knew that. Maybe that's why he didn't.
I remember the day I told him I was leaving London and embracing my own journey. My destiny. I didn't know what my future held but I could see the sadness well up in his eyes. I could see the hurt. He wanted me to stay in London and continue the tradition. But he kept this to himself and reluctantly accepted my decision to fly freely. To decide my own fate. To find myself on the open road. He knew. He may not have liked what he saw. But he knew.
I am convinced he also saw some of himself in me. The days and weeks that he spent traipsing around the globe instilled in him an understanding that sometimes a man has to leave home to find his way back. This is what I needed. My father gave me that.
I love my father. He saw what I couldn't see.