February 3, 2012


I received a belated New Year’s message from a former student I taught in what is now called Zimbabwe. Today she runs a small travel agency in South Africa called Rufaro. She’s been in the business for several years and I’ve watched her struggle for her little company through political upheavals, social unrest and economic downturns. Despite the challenges she hangs on and provides an excellent service to travelers. Anyone reading this blog and considering a trip to sub-Saharan Africa would do themselves a favor by contacting her, Kitty Snyman, www.rufaro.com.  I hope this reference may do her some good but it’s her struggles that occupy my thoughts today.


Like many of us, my friend lives in a land of “what ifs” sharpened by harsh realities. “What if the economy stumbles? What if there’s a general strike… the outbreak of a disease… political unrest… or a natural disaster?” No one can foresee the future, but most of us have lived long enough to predict our paths won’t be smooth.   

I sometimes pause to wonder why I write, for example. Creating a manuscript is work. Paying an editor to critique my writing is expensive. Finding an agent or a publisher is almost impossible. Throughout, the process means facing numerous rejections. And when these are overcome, a new set of hurdles present themselves. I must solicit book reviews which can mean more rejection. Or if the piece is well received, there is the expense of hiring a publicist to help raise the level of chatter. Finding a warm beach with a plentiful source of Margaritas might make more sense for living out my retirement years.

Of course, there are the opposite set of “what ifs” to consider. What if I became a famous novelist? What if I made lots of money and was courted by fans everywhere? What would become of my privacy; my safety; my personal time?  How would old friends treat me? 

Happily, I’m old enough to realize that life isn’t about the endgame. The endgame is death. If I were certain I’d never publish another story, I’d continue to write just as my former student, Kitty, continues to toil for her travel agency. We both know that life is more than a destination. It’s a journey.