I found it buried under a bunch of other books on the shelf next to my bed. The tattered copy of the 1990 South American Handbook was in my hands and it was bringing back memories of good times right after college when I just wanted to travel and explore the world.
As I opened the book, I noticed the sticky notes that were pinned on the pages of interesting cities, sites and countries. The notes were placed there by Bill my brother and myself. I had just returned from a long trip to Central America and he brought up the idea of the two of us taking a car trip from the top to the bottom of South America. He was ready for something different and new and I was itching to continue my travels. The book was our planing guide for the great adventure. The marked pages were places and things that we could drive to and see while we spent time touring through each country. As I turned the pages and saw the scribbled notes it brought back all the great memories I have of the time – the anticipation and the wonders of what such a trip would hold in store for us.
The trip never happened. For probably a dozen reasons all of them good ones – we just never made it happen. And as I turned the pages of the book it now it made me a little sad. What memories had I missed with my brother? What adventures should we have had together that we did not? Each crinkled note and page of that book now represented regrets of a trip not taken. While we talked about the trip together, we created dramatic visions in our own heads of taking a rugged jeep through desolate mountain ranges and coming upon small villages of locals. We might spend the night with them and eat the local food. We might end up in interesting situations every day. When we finished the trip we would have endless stories of our adventures. We would have memories.
As I looked at the maps (now falling out of the book), I realized an important lesson. We never regret the trips we take- just the one’s we don’t. I am sure everyone has experienced this regret at some point because I always hear people say that they wish they had traveled more while they still had the chance. Bill and I didn’t go on that trip, and we probably won’t ever have the chance now. I’ll keep the memories of planning the trip in my head because in my mind, I felt like we did make that trip in someway if only in our imaginations. I’ll keep the book too. I am sure I will open it up again someday and wonder about what it would be like – the trip we never took.