If you have traveled much (or had children grow up) you know that the human brain tends to forget unpleasant events and keep only the good memories. In writing this book, I have remembered some things that I had conveniently forgotten—like the time our flight to England was late causing us to miss a reservation in Amsterdam, or the night in Italy when I woke up with over a hundred bedbug bites and Wilma, sleeping next to me, got none.
Traveling overseas made me proud to be a Canadian. We always wore Canadian pins and received a friendly reception everywhere we went. At that time, the reputation of Canada was firmly established as being helpful in maintaining peace in countries that wanted help with their problems, rather than invading them and killing their people as some other countries seemed to do.
We may have been viewed as a bit boring, but harmless like an elderly uncle who mostly sat on the porch reading his Bible, but never told us what to do or preached at us. We used to think of politics as something necessary to maintain a civilized and pleasant life. There was a time (many years ago) when I didn’t mind paying income taxes because I felt I was getting value for my money—I wasn’t even concerned if I happened to pay a bit more than required. Politics was not considered to be some partisan chess game to be played and won at all costs, as seems to be happening more frequently lately.
Strangers have always been helpful to us, particularly overseas. Several times, when we needed directions and didn’t speak the language, the person would motion for us to follow them and lead us to where we wanted to go, even though it might be a considerable distance out of their way.
When we lost our way, we even started saying, “We need to find a guide.”
We always seemed to find one.
Writing this book has brought forth many good memories that have made me realize how much the people with whom I have interacted have meant to me. My seventy-five years have been a great trip with a cast of literally thousands if I include all the students I have met. I wish I could thank each of them personally. I realize I didn’t thank them very much at the time when I was with them, but I guess that is just the way the world works.
Maybe I made it a more enjoyable for them to get where they were going, or at least made it a more interesting trip for them. I hope so.
Over the past years I have come to believe that everyone should be allowed to take an occasional mulligan* as they move through the golf-game of life. This is particularly true for young children and students in a classroom.
Older people shouldn’t need a mulligan, because they have had lots of chances to make corrections. But it might still be nice to be given one now and then.
*Mulligan: A golf shot not counted against the score, after an unusually poor shot. It’s like a “do-over.”