Carpe Diem 20


Today I’m off on another adventure. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that one before.This one is different, though. Rather than going back to my favorite spots in Europe, I’m headed West, to places I’ve never been to, places I’ve only ever dreamed of going.

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous. Heading off by myself into the great unknown is a little terrifying. I’m adventurous and all, but I’m also used to speaking the local language and understanding what I’m looking at. I’ve become a lazy traveler, in a way. It’s good to have the bejeezus scared out of you to wake up the soul. Where I’m headed, there are no friends to help me, I’m a stranger in a strange land.

It’s funny how life is. It’s so easy to fall into patterns that are comfortable and familiar. It’s so easy to let go of dreams and plans that feel too hard to achieve. You may not believe it, but I’ve got a bucket list too, and it’s not getting any shorter.

But then again, there are times that big decisions are made in the blink of an eye, with such a casual grace that it makes you wonder what took you so long to get there. I made the decision to take this trip while having coffee with a friend. We both thought it seemed silly, and then thought again. Why not?

I’ve been a professional traveler for half of my life, almost. It’s my passion to explore exotic things and teach about what I’ve seen. I wouldn’t have predicted any of this lifestyle, I was a very shy and bookish child, usually found hiding in a closet with my books or hiding behind my mother. How I’ve ended up here is a bit of a mystery to me, but something in my upbringing or life story has given me the feeling that every day is a gift and that complacency is dangerous.

I wonder if some of you out there are stuck. Letting your dreams be dreams. Feeling afraid because the world is scary and going to see it in person is intimidating. It is. I feel that too. But from a shy girl that has overcome that timidity and embraced adventure, I’ve got some advice for you.

Ask for what you want. Nobody is going to give it to you unless you say something. Nobody can actually read your mind. Ask even if it’s crazy, you never know who or what is listening. How do you suppose I got my job? I asked.

Have conviction about your choices. There are plenty of people out there who will disapprove of everything you do. Don’t waver if you know in your heart that you are choosing the right thing for you. This is your life and the only one you’re going to get (as far as I know, but I’m in a Buddhist country now so…). Making choices and standing by them despite the opinions of others, that’s the tough part.

Take the opportunity. You’ve had things fall into your lap, I know you have. Did you always go with them? I’ve guided my life based on the famous quote from Thoreau, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Yes, cheesy, and yes, I was that nerdy girl in high school with a copy of Walden tucked under her arm. But still. There are so many experiences to have, so many people to meet and so much beauty to explore. When an opportunity presents itself, I take it. There are always risks, but if you don’t give new things a chance, you’ll always be in the same place.

Be brave. It may be travel, buying a house, having a baby, starting a business. There will never be a perfect time or place for anything. You will never have enough money. You will never be thin enough. You’ll never know everything. Waiting on your dreams only leaves a long list for the end of your life of unfulfilled wishes.

So today, I’m being brave. I’ve always wanted to go to Asia, specifically Thailand. I’ve probably watched The King and I too many times, I’m not sure, but the allure of the Far East, with all of its bright colors and delicious food has put this on my mental roadmap. I want to go somewhere truly different and shake up my European sensibilities, see amazing architecture that I’ve studied and maybe hit a beach. I’m also a little bit obsessed with Thai food. Did I mention the food?

I don’t have the money for this trip, and the timing is truly terrible. But the opportunity presented itself, the door to adventure was thrown open by a friend who gets the arc I’m trying to trace in the sky. So I took the opportunity. It may be a disaster. Who knows what will happen? But at the end of the day, at the end of my life, will I regret what I did or what I didn’t do?

Carpe diem, my friends. There is nothing but now.


About sarahinitalia@yahoo.com

Sarah Murdoch is a tour guide and guidebook writer for Rick Steves Europe. Her blog, Adventures with Sarah, focuses on packing tips, travel stories and advice for planning the best trip possible.


20 thoughts on “Carpe Diem

  • Santa Barbara

    Oh, Sarah, thank you so much for this post. Just when I’m feeling down and discouraged, you’ve uplifted me with your wise words. You are going to have a fantastic time and lots of great adventures. We’ll all look forward to your posts:)
    And, as you said, carpe diem!

  • Therese

    Thank you Sarah for sending us this beautiful energy and message. Actions speak even louder than words and you and the adventure/discovery/fun/serene/happy surprises/precious memories trip you are starting are inspiring ! Namaste

  • Diane

    Oh, Sarah, what a great, positive message. Wishing you safe but exciting (only in the best possible way) experiences.

  • Leonard Grossberg

    Each journey starts with a leap of faith!
    Thailand is also on our list, and maybe soon.
    Have fun and safe travels!
    Hope to cross paths someday again,
    Leonard &Mary
    Oceanside,CA

  • Colleen

    Go for it Sarah! I grew up looking at pictures of Thailand from when my father took R & R there during the Vietnam war. After college, I took out a loan ( against my parents’ advice), and spent two weeks there. I have never, ever regretted it. Life is too short.

  • Katrina

    Wow! I got chills from reading this. How powerful and motivational. Thanks for saying these things. I’m already finding ways to put your words to good use! Enjoy Thailand. It’s on my list too

  • Judie Marks

    So true, We don’t know how much time we have on this planet and every day is a gift, not to be wasted.
    Embrace your experiences, look forward to reading your posts!

  • Judy Brennan

    You are an inspiration, Sarah. LOVE your blogs and artwork. Thank you! Thank you for sharing you with us. This post was JUST what I needed today. I’m moving on with my dreams and aspirations. You are a wonder! Thanks.

  • Sarah

    You might enjoy this blog regarding travel in Thailand
    THORNBERRY ( this is the name of the blog)
    THAILAND AND LAOS 2017

  • Carol L.

    Like you, we had the opportunity to travel to Thailand “fall into our laps” and we also jumped at it! Thailand was very exotic (and very different from Italy or other parts of Europe) with WONDERFUL food (but ask for less spicy even if you do like it hot) – Thailand has the hottest spicy food I have ever had! We went to Bangkok and Chiangmai – both were great. Buy art. Buy silk cloth. Buy handmade crafts. Do learn a couple phrases in Thai. The people are friendly; the temples are amazing; it is HOT and HUMID – bring light clothes or buy some in the night market! Enjoy it all and have a marvelous time!

  • Kathleene

    Sarah, this post could not have come at a better time for me. I have been hesitating to travel to see my friends in Europe, not because I don’t have the means, but because I haven’t seen them in 7 years and look older and wider, if you get my drift. I’ve got to get over myself and go & grab life. I will be interested to read your posts from Thailand as it’s a place also outside of my comfort zone but one that has always intrigued me. Thanks for inspiring me.

    • Tom A.

      Kathleene — YES, it is time to visit your friends in Europe. No big deal if you (or they) look older, “wider”, whatever. Here’s what I try to do when facing a decision that is difficult to make (this method comes from a book on decision making that I read a couple of years ago) — I use the 10/10/10 view. How will I feel about the decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years? The 10 years part really helps me come to grips with a (seemingly at the time) difficult decision that seems bigger than it really is.

  • Ro Vaselaar

    God’s speed Sarah! I so totally agree with you. Looking forward to following your fascinating adventures!

  • Joanne

    Love reading your posts, so inspirational 😊 Wishing you a fantastic time and looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

  • Andi Cody

    Good for you, Sarah! Venturing out four comfort zones is always a bit difficult and often takes courage. You go for it! Hoping you will be blogging about your newest adventure…

  • William Scholz

    B*R*A*V*O — Sarah. This was a great read on my first day home after a 4 week trip crossing the north Atlantic on the QM2, days in London, days in Paris and a truly “Sweet” week in Milan. To emerge from jet lag (a 9 hour time change in 11 hours elapsed) and coping with US Customs and Border Protection in LAX), your post was an inspiration that reminds me of why we do it. THANKS!

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