Journey to the Center of the World

“And in the end, it is not the years in your life that count, it’s the live in your years.”  –Abraham Lincoln

It seems like I’ve been sort of missing in action.  I’ve been finishing my book, Cherish the Light, and traveling. Now with school back in session, life is getting back to normal. You might know that one of my dreams for my 11 grandchildren is to help them to feel comfortable as citizens of the world. To that aim I have been taking them, often two at a time, on adventures. Donna_AMAZON RIVER ADVENTURE 053

Recently we returned from a marvelous journey to the center of the world. I took my two 16 year old grand girls and it was joyous for me to watch them as they discovered more about our planet. At the Center of the World, which is the equator monument in a tourist village, not too far from Quito, Ecuador, they delighted in having one foot in the Southern Hemisphere and the other in the Northern.  My daughter’s girl, Jaycelin, has an app on her phone that allows for tricky photography.  She and her cousin, Megan, entertained themselves with this app for some time. The result showed their full bodies in both hemispheres at once! They were delighted by the photo trick and I was gratified watching them discover all they were learning in the middle of the Earth.

Donna_AMAZON RIVER ADVENTURE 177Ecuador has 250 volcanoes, some active. We spent a good deal of our time at high elevations, admiring the volcano splendor and hiking below them. The headwaters of the Amazon River are also in Ecuador and we enjoyed three days on the river exploring the rain forest. I admired the way the girls climbed like gazelles up wet and steep mountains in the jungle without complaint.

They were enthusiastic when it was time to float down river on the balsa wood raft, or to practice on the poison blow-guns of the indigenous people, or even to carry on a conversation in Spanish. A big hit for them was taking photos of the monkeys leaping through the trees overhead, and of the various loose dogs we constantly encountered. Perhaps the biggest reward I took away from the eight days was being reminded again of what fun young people can provide us.

Sometimes when we are out of our usual comfort zones, new opportunities are presented. This tour was like that. There were 28 of us on the trip, Americans of all ages from all over the country. We were together for all of the activities including three meals a day, for eight days. That was a lot of togetherness!  My true delight was to observe my girls interacting with the others, sharing thoughful opinions and political ideas. I got to learn their world views firsthand.082

In the weeks leading up to the trip, perhaps a dozen people asked me to please put them in my suitcase to take them on this journey.  Of course, I always smiled as I replied, “Of course.”  I sometimes sensed that others do not see themselves taking advantage of the precious opportunities that are out there. It seems to me that we can have the life of our dreams if we can imagine it. Certainly it does not have to be a trip down the Amazon. It could be a camp-out in the backyard. Everyday creativity and imagination simply mean breaking out of our usual patterns and trying on something new; perhaps even rounding up some young people to join us. They can be a hoot!

How have you used your imagination lately? I would love to hear about it.  

Donna Friess
Author and psychologist Donna L. Friess, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus in Communications Studies at Cypress College in Orange County, CA. Donna has been a social activist for children’s rights. She facilitates a “Loss of a Loved One” support group and is an active professional speaker.
Donna Friess

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