While I was going to college in Orlando, I was a cast member at Walt Disney World. I was a ferryboat pilot, a Jungle Cruise skipper, a steam train conductor, and an omnibus driver among other roles. While working inside the Magic Kingdom I remember evenings after the guests had cleared the park and I’d walk alone down Main Street USA. The music would still be playing, the store windows were aglow, and Cinderella Castle sparkled in a soft blue light.
I was alone in the world’s most popular theme park.
This morning that magical, long ago experience came back when I was rocketing up and over the Alleghenies as others across the nation were sipping coffee inside their cubicles. The thought returned this afternoon. As I had the privilege to spend part of a “working day” at Gettysburg’s Little Round Top, toner was being added to an office copying machine.
Then this evening I was talking to a friend in Florida and I mentioned on June 2 I leave to speak aboard an Alaskan cruise. She told me how lucky I am.
But I’m not sure it’s luck. Instead, I feel fortunate. Somehow my passion for travel worked well with my interest in history and when that’s shared through my stories or presentations, the final product has been filtered through past experience as a comedian, copywriter, and journalist. The foundation of all of this was support and direction from family and friends and mentors so perhaps it’s not so much luck as it is good fortune and hard work.
But I’m not alone. Everyone on this ride likely has a similar story. Our decisions were based on our personal interests and abilities and, through a series of carefully crafted and/or completely random events, our lives have put us on this journey. And on a morning when, across America, emails of little consequence were treated with great urgency and bosses held meetings to plan future meetings, we enjoyed a “work day” that found us rocketing up and over the Alleghenies and watching the world from the heights of Little Round Top.
When I left Gettysburg and reflected on the twists of fate that put me on Main Street USA or aboard a ship or on a Yamaha Super Tenere, I wondered what the lesson is.
John Kennedy’s mother Rose reminded all of her children that to whom much is given, much is expected. Much has been given to me – participating in the Cannon Ball Centennial Ride is proof of that – and my hope is that I never fail to be thankful for what I have or trivialize my appreciation for the extraordinary opportunities that have come my way.
Above all, my hope is that our participation in this ride shows others what can happen when they trust themselves and follow their passion.