The last day of July, on this side of the world anyhow.  I'd get  another day if I could morph my way back to the states, but we all know that that's not possible.  Morphing hasn't really been       perfected yet, maybe someday...but not this last day of July 2004 in Keelung Taiwan anyhow.  

Keelung Taiwan will forever be the place I said good-bye to my oldest son as he sets off for the most daring adventure of his life. Yogi Berra said, "...when you get to the fork in the road, take it."  I don't exactly know if he was right about this, but it is  profound.  Almost all of us get to a time in our lives where there is a fork in the road. I know I have.  

Many of us (me?) have taken the safe road, the more certain path. Henry David Thoreau said to take the road less traveled; at least I think it was he.  But how many of us actually do that when given the chance?

It seems that everyone has a window in his or her life, a window of daring opportunity.  A chance to go out of the lines and choose a color that few have chosen. There are many books and films that attempt to get at this idea, "Sliding Doors" is one such movie that comes to mind immediately.  How would your life be different today if you zigged when you could have zagged?  How many pieces of your life would not be there that are there today, and can you guess what would be there that isn't?

Perhaps speculating on these issues is not something that is very useful in life.  I have heard many people say things like, "I wouldn't have done anything differently."  And, "It came out exactly as it was planned."  And perhaps this is true...but, what if...?  Now I agree, there isn't much use in talking about 'what  if' and it seems much more useful to deal with 'what is' and see  from here 'what can be.'  

But today, tonight, right now, on the eve of saying good bye to my oldest son, I am struck by the daring adventure he is about to embark upon and I wonder how my life would have been different had I had the courage to take the risk he is about to take. My body is wrought with emotion in this moment as I sit and type, thinking and feeling about Josh leaving tomorrow for Hanoi, Vietnam via Taipei, Taiwan.  Josh is jumping head first into a pool of unknown depths in waters he barely knows.  He is disembarking the SS Universe Explorer, our home for the past seven weeks, to take a chance that few people ever take.  I do believe that many of us have this 'window' in our lives, but few have the courage to shimmy up the wall to climb out.  Most of us have looked out the  window of opportunity, but to actually climb through it takes an  act of incredible chutzpah...and, I am proud to say that my boy   Josh is 'going for it.'

Tomorrow, at approximately 2100 hours, the "on-ship" time for the Semester at Sea family, Josh will be getting "off-ship."  There is a dinner tomorrow night to honor him, to say good-bye, a party of sorts.  And then, he will take his luggage and walk down the gangway, and for two hours prior to our departure (we are always on   the ship two hours prior to leaving the dock), he will stand on   the shore and we will be within sight and we will wave, and smile and cry, and my oldest son will stand alone, in Keelung and go off into the hot, muggy Taiwan night, where he knows no one and he   will board a train for Taipei, where he also knows no one, and he will wait for three days.  In three days his Vietnam visa will    come and he will fly from Taipei to Hanoi with less than $500.00  in his pocket, a semi-maxed out Visa card and a dream.

The people on the ship who have heard about this story (mostly everyone hears everything in an environment this tight) have asked, "what do his mother and you think about Josh doing this?"  And I reply proudly that we are both thrilled for our son.  Thrilled that we raised a man so willing to take the scariest road.  Thrilled that he is following a dream to live his life, to take risks,  to be daring and to learn about himself.  Law schools are not going away, and maybe Josh will never get to law school now, no one can know what the future will bring for any of us, can we? Do you? I wanted my children to love life, to appreciate life, to take risks and to try to do the right thing.  Sometimes, that means taking chances and taking the road few have chosen.  

Tomorrow, Josh is doing just that...and maybe, just maybe, it's because his mother and I didn't take the road less traveled.  Maybe the fact that we stayed on the 'safer' road has provided our son  with the foundation he needed to jump through the window that almost everyone gets to look out and few choose to go out.

Josh is scared.  Rachel is sad.  I am nervous.  This is living life...a mixed bag of emotion and chance.  And my son, who as a baby couldn't go to sleep unless he was moving, is moving again...but this time, it's not in a baby swing, or a waterbed crib, or his mother's arms rocking him in the bentwood rocker, it's not in the car that we'd sometimes use to drive him around to put him to sleep - it's a spaceship called Earth, and it's spinning in space with all of us aboard and most of us looking out windows, while   Josh climbs out of one and into a world with a different language, different traditions, different money, different everything, half a planet away.

So when you read this, say a prayer for my boy, and send him as much love and good energy as you can spare...he'll be easy to find...he's the curly haired white kid climbing out the window.