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Tuesday, April 14

To Hell With A Fan When The Wind Is Blowing

Written after my trip to Indonesia in Fall 2008

One of many quotable lines from the greatest love story I’ve ever read, Love in the Time of Cholera.

I started this book about two months ago, but several factors kept me from completing it as quickly as I do most books. It had a rather complicated beginning, laden with ornate prose, and my complex work travel schedule along with futile attempts to maintain some sort of semblance of a social life kept me pretty busy day and night.

It bothers me, though, when a book lingers for a long period of time. One evening, a glace up from my computer screen to my coffee table caused a bit of anxiety when my mind registered the unfinished book fighting for position next to a stack of papers and unsorted mail. The anxiety didn’t come from the book itself but from the notion that I hadn’t had time to finish it amid the list of other things that fill my days.

So, I simply sighed and promised myself that I would complete it on my vacation in Indonesia.
Let me digress here to explain how I came about taking a vacation to an island halfway across the world. I read another book earlier this year called Eat Pray Love which chronicled an American woman’s travel adventures in Italy, India and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a fairly nasty divorce.

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to take a vacation alone and abroad, and the book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside left no question about where my destination should be. I let the thought of traveling to an unknown distant land by myself linger in my mind for a few weeks to see if my inner voice would talk me out of the trip. Surprisingly, it encouraged it. So, about three weeks after finishing Eat Pray Love, I started looking for plane tickets and bought one soon thereafter.

So, that was it. After dropping quite a bit of money on airfare, I knew I was committed to going to Indonesia. And I did, on what turned out to one of the most amazing voyages of my life.
One evening in Indonesia, I sat on the balcony of my hotel reading Love in the Time of Cholera as I promised myself I would, and an effortless smile appeared on my face as I came to the line, “To hell with a fan when the wind is blowing.” As soon as I read it, it connected with me because it put into words the sense of freedom that has characterized my life for quite some time.

In an effort to fully explore and appreciate this thing called life, I frequently opt to follow the road less traveled. Less ordinary. Less comfortable. So, if I want to be a lone traveler to a country I’ve never been to, I can. If I grow tired of my job and want to quit before reaching the company’s average length of employment, I will. If I don’t want to get married until later in life, I won’t. And if I want to temporarily move to a foreign country to learn its native language, I might.

Not only did my trip to Indonesia reestablish the importance of balance that my life had recently been craving, it also brought back into focus the belief that I can do whatever I want to, both of which ideals can easily become overshadowed in the rat race most Americans run. My trip left me very thankful that the materials of the world have not lulled me into complacency or confined me to operating on three speeds predetermined by a machine. Instead, I’m as free as the wind.

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