Don’t Give Up On Your Dream
I dreamed of going to Africa until I was 53 years old.
When I was 10 and growing up in Canada, I saw a National Geographic magazine which featured cheetahs in Kenya. There was a picture of a cheetah chasing a gazelle. Once I saw that picture, I fell in love with cheetahs and Kenya. I pinned that picture over my bed and l looked at it every night.
I had a very good life in Victoria, British Columbia, I was winding down my career, I have two great kids and a bunch of great friends. But I had always felt there was something missing. I had always wanted to visit Africa and even as I young boy I had always loved cheetahs. So I decided that rather than simply just go to Kenya for three months as a tourist, I’d volunteer with a cheetah conservation group (Action for Cheetahs in Kenya) and get my feet on the ground. I fell in love with Kenya immediately!
What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?
After going back and forth from Victoria to Kenya several times, I realized I was much happier in Kenya. I really enjoyed the people I met, I loved being out in the bush doing the cheetah conservation work, I loved the animals and the environment. It was the place I was meant to be. I may have discovered it somewhat late in life, but I consider myself very lucky that I did.
What were the specific obstacles that you faced?
The biggest hurdle was just leaving everything and everyone I had known since a kid and moving on to another country and lifestyle. I think it’s more socially acceptable to make a major change when you are younger; perhaps after university, but making a change of this magnitude when you are almost 60 is looked upon as somewhat irresponsible.
What helped you get through them?
Having the support of my friends here in Kenya and that of my kids and other family members back in Victoria really helped. But I think the biggest thing for me was just knowing that this is what I was meant to do. I also met an amazing woman in Kenya that made a big difference too.
Were there people that tried to discourage you?
For me it was a bit of a mixed bag. I had some people telling me I was being irresponsible and I shouldn’t leave Victoria, but I also had many people, including my two grown children, that supported my decision. My daughter has been to Kenya to visit and my son plans to once his job will allow him the time for an extended visit. I also go back to Victoria once or twice a year to visit friends and relatives.
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
Now that I’m settled into my new life and truly living my dream, I feel really fulfilled. Perhaps complete is a better word. In fact it doesn’t so much feel like living my dream, as just living the way I was meant to.
When I would go back to Victoria, I would often meet with friends, people in their late fifties or early sixties that had never travelled but now wanted to but didn’t really know how to plan or take an extended trip overseas. So I wrote a book about travelling, actually it’s more of a how-to guide about travelling. I included the answers to 132 questions regarding all aspects of planning and taking a trip along with tips from other seasoned travelers. It’s called, Get Up and Get Going, A Practical Guide for the Mature Would-Be Traveler.
What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?
I guess the simplest advice, which is not really simple at all, is no matter how hard it is, follow your dream. There will always be lots of obstacles, no shortage of people telling you that you are making a big mistake, especially if living your dream means a big lifestyle change as mine did.
Although sometimes it might just seem easier to give up on your dream – don’t! It may sound corny, but I would much rather take the chance and follow my dream, even if I fail, rather than not having tried it at all and regretted it later.
To read more about Peter and his book on travel, Get Up and Get Going, A Practical Guide for the Mature Would-Be Traveler, click here.