Almost every day, I miss out on an interesting cultural experience. I could have picked an adventure today: a how-to class, a walking trail, a museum. There are plenty of them within driving distance.
But I never got around to it.
Often, I miss out because I’m too late–which is usually my own fault. I take too long to get ready, and I miss the opening act. I get preoccupied with another interest, and I miss the entire show. Or I idealistically assume that I can fit four activities into one day, when it’s only realistic to do the first two.
There are other times when I just don’t do the research. Several months ago, I missed out on the “watermelon seed spitting contest” that was going on in a nearby town. (See the photo above.) I could have looked up a schedule of events online, but I didn’t discover the festival until it was already ending. Since I had never heard of a “watermelon seed spitting contest,” I was intrigued–and a little disappointed that I didn’t get to observe that one.
There are other times when I miss out because I’m too scared. When we visited some Mayan ruins in Guatemala, our guide asked us if we wanted to hold the tarantula that he had picked up. I hesitated and let the Canadian tourist brave it first. I didn’t want to die from a spider bite in a foreign country. But as I watched other people holding the tarantula, I decided that maybe I could at least pet it. I finally got up the nerve to reach out my hand, but just as I did, the guide put the tarantula back on the ground. I had missed out on that wildlife adventure.
I don’t just miss out on adventures. Sometimes, I miss out on big opportunities. I’m too late to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m unprepared for the challenge that’s ahead of me, and I fail it. Or I’m too scared to embrace the risk that could dramatically improve the course of our lives. As I’ve thought about my missed adventures and opportunities, I’ve realized that sometimes I do need to be more on-time, more prepared, or more courageous.
Then, at other times, I need to just accept that missing out is a part of life. I might feel disappointed, but there will be another opportunity to help someone, to prepare for a challenge, or to take a risk. And there will be plenty of chances to watch ridiculous contests.
Also, sometimes missing out is for the best. I have no regrets about missing out on a tarantula bite.
Can you think of any “almost” adventures that you’re glad you missed out on?