leaps of faith


My idea of adventure has typically been switching laundry detergents, so it may surprise some people to learn that I would, as previously mentioned, point to a dot on a foreign map and declare that my family would go there in two days. But certainly, writers and travelers must also possess a sense of adventure.

Now, that does not have to mean a willingness to jump out of planes or volunteer for a knife-throwing class. We all know where our own personal sense of adventure threshold is. One of mine, for instance, was reached swimming in the Cinque Terre, when our daughters decided to join the cliff jumpers. Now, you have to know, none of us swims particularly well. But, this beach (using the term loosely; the “beach” was a group of large slate rocks) was quite sheltered, and the rocks from which people jumped faced inland, not out to sea. Still, they were high, by my standards.

Middle child was the first to go, and in her usual straightforward manner, she walked up to the mid-height cliff, sized it up, and jumped before she could worry about it too much. Then ventured oldest child, who hesitated long and much. She liked not the look of the rocks beneath. So, in her typical fashion, she quite logically went up to the highest outcrop, about thirty feet, and leapt from there instead. She was the only girl willing to do so that day. It is not the first time in her life; she will as a rule climb up or jump off of walls that only guys will tackle. I could handle this only because I watched through the lens of a camera. Somehow, this distanced me from the actual events, and I did not have to cope with the fact that my offspring were hurling themselves into the Mediterranean from heights greater than our rooftop.

A sense of adventure led us last evening to possibly our only peaceful moment in Rome. Against middle child’s protests that we were going in a ramp that stated “Exit only,” we walked, rambling into the Roman Forum area after hours and nearing sunset. Which is why we found the top of a hill, overlooking the city, with only two young families to share the moment of a perfect sunset over matching pink buildings and glowing marble. Without a willingness to scout out the road less traveled, we would have missed that glorious moment.

I don’t want to get home and say I saw the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Mona Lisa. I want to say I saw a perfect sunset over Rome, I found a church in a tiny plaza that had a stunning painting (we did), and I watched my kids try something new and didn’t hold them back. That’s not just what travel and writing are about. It’s what life is about.

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