Finding Mary’s Why
Finishing the wine, Mary closed her eyes and waited for the numbness to slide through her, pushing down the undercurrent of restlessness she’s suffered since burying her husband. Or, if we’re being completely honest, she thought, well before that.
Thirty years of tending flowers and children’s minds offered a quiet reward into which the kindergarten teacher had settled. By most standards, she had little room for complaint. And yet, now looking across the empty house, Mary found herself confined in a life in which she felt bound and claustrophobic.
This can’t be it, she thought, reviewing the contents of how she spent her time. Teaching during the day, dinner, the news, her favorite shows, and falling asleep to a book, wine, or both. Sometimes dinner with friends or the occasional movie. The most exciting events being monthly visits from her grown children.
This just can’t be it.
“I just don’t feel excited about my life.”
And there it was.
The truth she’d been pushing down.
She sat in this revelation, playing its significance over in her mind. The awareness of her unhappiness forcing her to acknowledge the situation. She thought of Bernie, now gone two years, but the lesson of life’s fragility still very present. Well, this has to change.
Mary eased into the couch, put her feet up. For the first time in nearly three decades, she consciously considered different possibilities for her life, ways she could jolt herself. Nothing uprooting, but definitely something to shake her core.
Cooking classes, maybe? A new workout program, perhaps? And then she thought of Diana and Donald, her neighbors recently returned from a two-week cruise.
That’s it. I need to leave and go somewhere.
Immediately, the idea of Italian piazzas formed in her mind, and without much further thought, Mary found herself typing “Things to Do in Italy” into her search engine.
Results listed the standard tourist-ready sites. The Colosseum. The Grand Canal. She made mental notes about a few places, but felt antsy. Viewing old paintings and ancient ruins wouldn’t suffice. That’s how she traveled before: checking off all a city’s major destinations. While she always loved the finer points of culture, Michelangelo and DaVinci didn’t stir passion or anticipation in the way she desired right now. She needed something more, something absolutely unlike her.
Knowing this, Mary opted to do something she’d never did—she clicked on Outdoor Activities.
Granted, not the bravest or heroic of actions, but just the strangeness of entertaining the idea surprised and excited her. None of the the many tours held her attention, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw the words SCUBA AND SNORKELING as a category in the Activities section.
That could be interesting, she thought. After a quick scroll through pictures of coral reefs, tour boats, and turquoise water, Mary starts wondering what it’d be like.
What would I see down there? How long would that even take to learn? Could I physically do it?
She followed her curiosity by typing “Scuba Diving Italy” into the Search box.
Mary read through a number of articles. Posts such as “The Top Ten Places to Scuba Dive in Italy,” and “5 Tips for Scuba Diving in Italy.” Most straightforward, how-to or informational. All yielding a better understanding of what the trip might look like, but nothing really compelled her.
So far she had the Where and the How. But not the Why.
Why should this middle-aged, overweight, semi-depressed woman traipse across the world and learn to submerge herself hundreds of feet into watery darkness?
She wasn’t sure until she found, “How Scuba Diving Lampedusa Changed My Life.”
One 65-year-old man’s account connected with multiple places inside herself Mary didn’t even know existed. She hung onto every sentence, trailing closely behind him into the abyss. Then slowly the details of how the ocean’s hidden world shaped Odin Christmas wrapped tendrils around Mary and pulled her deeper. So much so that by the time she’d finished reading, though easy enough to step away from the computer, a part of her remained under the sea, hoping to feel what that man had found.
Why Your Storytelling Matters to Adventure Travelers
Because we need them.
Stories meet us where we are, transport us to a different time and space, and start conversations about tomorrow.
They Meet Us Where We Are
People are complex, with an infinite number of possibilities of not only habits and preferences, but our particular mental and emotional space. We go to a site or an article with different expectations and hopes for that experience. And no two are the same.
The degree of impact a story holds varies not only for each person, but also each situation. Someone could read the same piece at two different times, with varying states, and derive two separate meanings. Today, reading an article about hiking Ireland’s Benbulben holds more significance for me than just a year ago.
When a story resonates, it acts as a mirror. At times that reflection is familiar, maybe even quite exact. At others, we may feel a pull to acknowledge a side of ourselves we subconsciously knew existed, but for which we lacked words. Either way, the fact remains that someone else’s experience speaks to us, somehow making us feel recognized, validated, or understood.
They Transport Us
The fact of the matter is most people struggle. You’d be hard pressed to find an individual not climbing an uphill battle in one, if not many, areas of his or her life. Maybe it’s dealing with an unfulfilling 9-5. Or, in Mary’s case, a quiet life that found a heightened level of silence with her husband’s passing.
Stories give us an outlet, a way to step away from the stress. We enter another world, one free of immediate frustrations or unfavorable situations, and for five minutes find escape, an anchor, or a reminder to remain focused.
They Start Conversations about Tomorrow
During those moments of freedom, stories whisper seductive phrases. Possibilities take shape. As we follow along ridge lines, questions surface. We tally how much vacation days are saved up. We consider ideal times of year. We wonder about ideal travel partners or solo options. But we’re out there, creating an experience that could give us great joy.
Stories can literally change a person.
It could be your story that finds someone when she most needs it, offers information to reimagine who she is, and what she wants to do with her life. To give her inspiration room to run, to really discover a more rewarding life.
And maybe, a story is just a story.
After which, most of us will come back, and move along, though better armed with details we need to make decisions about your location or service. But then you’ll have the times when something you write matters so deeply to someone else that part of them will never come back.
Your words are their turning point.
But we can never be sure what makes its mark.
All we can do is share. As much and as often as we can so that we increase the odds that someone will find value in what we put out there. That someone will find greater meaning in their tomorrow because of something you illuminated within them today.