Let me tell you about JM Bryce Travel. We focus on the senior’s experience of travel, which includes real people’s adaptations for illness and disability. All content is © 2010-2019 by JM Bryce unless otherwise stated.
Primarily I travel with a friend or two. Occasionally I take an organized tour. Other times I travel with my adult children. But no matter who my travel-mates are, I tend to feel that I’m simultaneously moving toward and away from something. I find that paradox invigorating.
I’ve travelled alone a great deal in the past and frankly it no longer interests me. There’s much to be said for that kind of freedom, but connections are what fascinate me now. Serendipitous meetings with the like-minded can occur wherever I am in the world, and I treasure each time it happens. But sharing a beautiful moment or a harrowing experience with someone who gets it, who understands me, means far more than just the tickets in my pocket and an open road ahead.
Why I started the JM Bryce Travel blog
Several circumstances converged to create the impetus for me to write this blog. I’d been reading collections of stories written by professional travelers and a couple of things annoyed me. For one, I picked up on a sort of arrogance–really it was blatant ageism–within the group. No way could they be caught writing about anything a bunch of grey-hairs would be interested in doing.
That’s an illogical stance. Youth is a time-limited position. How long before they join the very group they exclude? Aging is inevitable, but they don’t seem to get it. Teenagers have the same sense of invulnerability as do some of the writers ….. which suggests much.
So I began to hunt through the Internet for blogs written by seniors on their travel experiences. Some started well, but trailed off into anecdotes about their friends and relations. Others got side-tracked into giving fashion tips for the aging body. Still others posted photos of food they liked and raved about certain restaurants. Other blogs were all pictures and no commentary. Still others were chatty, but low in content.
Frankly, the blogs that attracted me most tended to be high adventure. In this decade of my life, that’s definitely like reading fantasy!
I was dissatisfied. Seniors travel; some even have adventures.
About then, I left home for a couple of weeks of travel. When I returned, I walked smack into a conundrum. Two diametrically opposed views of life took focus in a juxtaposition that created something of an epiphany.
It began when a neighbor asked me to accompany her to visit a retired university professor with a fine academic record. I’m relatively new to the area and my friend wanted to introduce me around a bit. The visit was prompted primarily, however, out of concern for the professor who had become increasingly reclusive after retirement and the death of a spouse.
During a half-hour conversation, my friend and I brought up several topics we hoped would make connection. Initially the professor would brighten a bit and engage with a comment or two. But invariably we’d see the spine sag a little, the gaze wander to the left of the knees, Then a sigh, “Well, we really don’t know. We just don’t know very much.”
It was like a refrain, a leitmotif. It had cadence and a falling lyrical line. It occurred so frequently that it seemed to have become an ostinato to consciousness. I found it strange, a bit unnerving, to hear those words from a person in decent health who had spent a lifetime engaged in intellectual pursuits.
Joy in cold water and sunshine
Back home, I entered the world of two grandchildren who were staying with me while their musician parents were away on tour. Their eyes bright, they examined the minutiae of the insect world in my fallow garden, investigated the aural possibilities in my collection of child-proof folk instruments, and curled up on my lap to examine picture books and listen intently to the stories the pictures told—all energy and attention. They were immersed in the age of wonder.
As I tucked them in bed that night, I wondered where I was on the continuum between resignation and wonder? Where was I on the line between the despair of never knowing and the joy of discovery?
I began unpacking my suitcase, shook out the sand, started the laundry, and sorted the trinkets I’d bought into little piles for distribution. About then it hit me. I realized what travel did for me, why I keep on packing my suitcase, buying those tickets, and hauling my body into the unknown.
My desire for wonder prompts my love of travel
Discovering lands and peoples not my own, focusing my spirit and intellect to connect with unknown dimensions, urging my body and my brain to perform beyond the trawling speed associated with advancing age. These efforts were my hedge on retaining vitality despite the press of years.
Sometimes I get tired, sometimes I’m too hot or too cold, and sometimes I don’t feel all that well. And in my carry-on luggage I have to pack a pill tray, several types of glasses, plus a tube of high-number sunscreen. And I wouldn’t dare leave home without plumbing aids, don’t be proud—be prepared.
I also need walking poles for climbing up or down anything without a railing, a big-brimmed hat to create some shade, and an e-Reader loaded with my favorite authors in case of a longish flight or drive, and I definitely remember insect repellant! I try to avoid being bruised, burnt, bored, or bitten!
I’ve watched my little “grands” and I know how to do it, how to approach the sense of wonder. First, imagine a journey. Second, call a friend to go with me. Third, plot the trip by weighing the lure of the exotic against the anticipated exertion level (what can we manage this year that might be too physically challenging the next?). And fourth, pack a light bag—more money and less stuff! It’s far better to have the right pharmaceuticals and a second pair of walking shoes than an extra outfit or two.)
I could die suddenly tomorrow like certain of my loved ones, or I could die an inch at a time over many years like others I’ve cared about deeply. But as long as I have enough heart and lungs, two legs of any composition, and a full deck of cards up top, I’m going to explore my world. I’m mobile and I intend to celebrate the gift as along as possible.
Joy in the Moment:
That’s How I Want to Live the Rest of My Life
No, we don’t really know very much in the twenty-first century. No, I haven’t got it all figured out. But I treasure the wonder of being alive.
Maybe you’ve been where I’m going and you’ll enjoy seeing it all again through my eyes. Or maybe I’ll find a new adventure you didn’t know you wanted to have. Either way, I’d love to have you visit with me as we explore life after retirement on this amazing planet of ours.