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Throw Your Hat Over the Fence. (Alternate title: Find Your Own Castle)

I used to read the Readers Digest magazine a lot. I mean a LOT. In fact, in my early 20’s my parents gave me a 2 year subscription to the magazine. Call me crazy, or nerdy, but I doubt that many twenty somethings are perusing the pages of the Digest these days. Do they even publish anymore?

Most articles have vanished from my memory but there is one, in particular, that has helped shaped my decision making for the better part of 20 years (I’ll pause while you do the math, yeah, I’m almost 40). The title of this article was, well, I guess I don’t quite remember the title. Anyhow, the main characters names were …… well, I forgot them too. Ok, something I do remember, the general narrative of the focussed on young boy living in 1950’s suburbia. Next door to his family house was an abandoned and overgrown lot. Nearly every day through the summer months he would venture to the edge of the fence, gaze, and wonder about what might lie on the other side. He would fantasize about climbing the fence and exploring, venturing into unknown territory, though never being able to commit to the exercise.Not sure what direction to take? Commit to one.

Not sure what direction to take? Commit to one.

Near the end of the summer his father joins him in the yard immediately plucks the hat from his head and tosses it over the fence. “What did you go and do that for?” he exclaims. Father proceeds to explain “Now you HAVE to climb the fence to get your hat back”. I also forget what happens next though the moral of the story remains deeply rooted inside me.

I refer to this story often. In particular, when faced with decisions regarding travel I try to choose to throw my hat over the fence. Let me give some examples. When departing Amsterdam to head in a direction ‘South towards Rome’ we decided to venture off to Luxembourg to find this cool looking castle we had seen in our Lonely Planet guidebook. Before having time to reconsider this decision, and knowing very little about our destination or the length of the trip, our tickets were purchased and our destination set. No time time to reconsider. Hat over the fence. Example number two; after briefly discussing an American East Coast train/backpacking/baseball/food adventure Andrea and I jumped online to purchase tickets to a number of baseball games, flights, and train tickets. Hat over fence. In my post, “Two Wheels Turning” I discuss a 300km cycling trip that I started totally unprepared and on a whim. Again, once the wheels were set in motion (literally) then there was no turning back. Hat over fence. Final example. My first full length album. No thought process. Hat over …., well, you get the idea.Our reward for blindly committing to find a cool castle

Our reward for blindly committing to find a cool castle

In about, or exactly, 48 days I land in Rome for a 22 day (sounds better than three weeks) European backpacking adventure. Nothing, well almost nothing, is planned except for a couple of nights in Rome and a night in Venice. Multiple stops in Croatia along with Prague, Budapest and Krakow are expected but nothing is certain. The road, and rails, will bring what they bring.

This brings me to the crux of this post. We talked about backpacking Eastern Europe for too long (Yes, I do realize that Italy is still in Western Europe) while discussing dates, times, life events, works schedules and more. Finally, remembering the Readers Digest story, where this post began, I threw my hat over the fence. By this I mean that I went online and bought two return plane tickets to Rome for the first reasonable fare that I found. That was easy. Everything else has fallen into place. It always does. 

A quick Google search returns dozens of versions of the story I relayed above. It seems that “throwing your hat over the fence” has become imbedded into the lexicon AND it also comes in many flavours though the message is consistent. Commit yourself and great, unexpected, adventure and rewards will follow. They have too and they will.

Now, where did I put that old stack of Readers Digest magazines? I think my subscription may have run out.

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