‘Going on an Expotition?’ said Pooh eagerly. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been on one of those. Where are we going to on this Expotition?’
‘Expedition, silly old Bear. It’s got an “x” in it.’
‘Oh!’ said Pooh. ‘I know.’ But he didn’t really.
‘We’re going to discover the North Pole.’
‘Oh!’ said Pooh again. ‘What is the North Pole?’ he asked.
‘It’s just a thing you discover,’ said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.” – Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne
winnie-the-pooh is a great influence on life. So in honour of everyone’s favourite silly old bear, here’s what I learned about expotitions while travelling overseas:
Make memories: There was exploring the palace in Czech Republic, and the world’s-second-best-hot-chocolate in Poland (given that name by our Polish guide; apparently they have the second best of everything but the best of nothing, which is very sweet. Incredible hot chocolate though.). There was the day me and two girls from the hostel hired bikes and cycled around Vancouver and Stanley Park and discovered totem poles and a very blue pool right next to the beach (as an Australian, I don’t get why you would ever choose the pool over the beach, but there you go).
Small expotitions are just as big: In between all the planned activities were the equally special memories of little ‘expotitions’ that we nearly didn’t do. Hopping on our bikes again to enjoy the sunset despite our tired backsides… walking until we found any place with salads in Vienna for some tourists not used to the heavy potato-and-meat diet… climbing up the Mattias Cathedral in Budapest to get a fantastic view of the city.
Some fell on their faces uneventfully – like the leather making place in Czeschy Krumlov. Others stuck with me for bizarre reasons, like the Lennon Wall in Prague. Still others were magnificent, like whale watching in Vancouver.
I rediscovered how easy it was to settle for settling for face value or going along with the obvious and big things, but if I made a little bit of extra effort, coupled with one or two other explorers, I had ten times as much fun.
Expotitions are here at home, too: How easy it is to ignore expotitions in the regular and mundane life. This is easy to contemplate when you’re overlooking the Budapest rooftops in the golden sunlight, I know, but while on this trip through Europe and Canada I told myself I really needed to make an effort to keep going on these little challenges, going the extra mile (literally, as was the case on Mount Elk outside Vancouver – man I don’t think I’d ever been that cold!) – having little adventures in between all the big ones. Why? Because adventures and opportunities, big or small, is what makes my life fun, memorable, special, and exciting.
In Laos I put this to the test, and I discovered something else: it’s really not that hard once you get started! At first, doing something like visiting a friend in a village seemed super daunting, but once I set a date and asked some questions so I’d know what to do, by the time I was on that truck overflowing with people, bags of rice, and chickens, I was comfortable (but squashed) and having a great time! Every time I do something a little out of the ordinary, I’m so glad I did it.
Say yes: When I was in Canada two women really encouraged me with a single word: YES. They didn’t know each other at all; in fact, they lived on opposite sides of the country (which, I discovered, is a HECK of a big country!!). As we shared our stories and experiences, that simple word stuck with me to haunt me at the most inconvenient and best of times. Say more yeses than nos – don’t live in fear – be yourself – have fun!
So in conclusion: big and small things, they make a great life, but sometimes I can’t be bothered to do little fun things, or organise myself to do big things, and I get sucked into the mundane. Now that I’m back home in Australia, in my old room, my suitcase collecting dust over in the shed, I don’t want to forget to go on expotitions. To do things out of the ordinary and do the things that make me happy. It might not look glamorous, and it might not make it to Instagram – that’s not the point. The point is to say yes to having fun, being spontaneous, and approaching life with eyes wide open! ❤