Travelling the World and So Much More?

Sailing or learning to scrape a hull.

Sailing or learning to scrape a hull.

Are you happy with your lot in life?  Why?  Is it because you have lots of money and you’re financially secure and it just keeps growing more and more and you can afford anything?  Lucky you.  Unfortunately you’re in the minority in the world.  All the more power to you, though.  Is it because you finally are getting a chance to travel and enjoy all the things you have wanted to enjoy after a life of toil?  Lucky you.  Once again you’re in the minority because failing health is often the nasty thing that nibbles at that enjoyment and you often wonder why you waited so long to do it.  Is it because you’re surrounded by your children and grand children

who care and nurture you with enthusiasm and love?  Lucky you.  And again, you’re in the minority.  Is it because you are completely happy with everything you have and need nothing more?  Or is that a lie that you keep telling yourself?  Makes you think doesn’t it?

When it gets cold here in southern Canada, we’re often yearning for the warm spring weather to show up again so that we aren’t stuck in the house.  Those of you that live in the colder climates know what I’m talking about.  Cold weather is irritating and unpleasant, especially for the elderly.  Even the simple tasks of going to get the mail from the community mailbox or going to the market for food, can tax your body in ways that aren’t comfortable when you get a bit older.  Bundling up to go out and brave slippery sidewalks and roads is a task, but without it, especially in this day and age, you would soon get hungry and the bills don’t get paid.  But more importantly, you can only watch so many videos and read so many books and paint so many pictures or talk on the phone with so many people.  The urge to get out and do something in some of us is overpowering and if it can’t happen, something is missing, isn’t it?

Sunset in English Bay

Sunset in English Bay

So ask yourself the question, “Is this all there is?”  And the answer is “Of course not!”  We’re only constrained by our

imagination and dreams and just plain guts to do something about it.  Lets soar and think about all the things you really want to do with the rest of your life.  Believe me, you owe yourself an answer.

Have you ever watched the movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called the Bucket List?  What an inspiring movie about two terminal cancer patients and what they got up to in the time they had left to them.  Aside from all the crazy antics they went through in order to fulfill their final wishes on that bucket list, the theme that caught my attention was the joyfulness they felt for that time they had left and how they made every minute count.

 

The Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, AB

The Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, AB

The laughter they experienced, not just as an item on the list, but throughout the entire experience was what inspired me the most.  Their lives beforehand were sort of encapsulated in the everyday, mundane things that we all get trapped in, in order to survive.  Getting up in the morning and going to work to make just a little bit more to heap on the pile.  Creating unacceptable stress that ultimately was the cause of their illness in the first place.  Doing what everyone else decided was best for us rather than having our own free will to do exactly what we want instead.  As I often remind my children and friends that seem to be caught up in life, “You only have one twist around this old planet, so you’d better make the best of it!”  Isn’t that true?

Another great movie to watch is Art Carney in Harry and Tonto.  A poignant story about an elderly, retired school teacher who finds himself on the street after the building he and his late wife had brought up their kids in, was torn down.  He decided to go on the road and travels across the country with his cat, Tonto.  This story tells of a person living his life to the fullest and is both inspiring and fun with a healthy dose of reality tossed in.

I believe you can watch both of those movies on Netflix and hundreds more of your favorite movies and TV programs, and if they aren’t there you simply can get them from the library or buy them on-line through iTunes or Amazon.

The Hawaiian Islands are one of my favorite places to visit both actually and on-line.

The Hawaiian Islands are one of my favorite places to visit both actually and on-line.

 

Modern cruise ships can be an amazing experience, but with YouTube you can still experience Hawaii.

Modern cruise ships can be an amazing experience, but with YouTube you can still experience Hawaii.

What do you really want to do?  Do you want to fly to Europe and see the castles on the Rhine?  Do you want to see the Houses of Parliament, or the green fields of Ireland?  Do you want to sail the south seas on a windjammer?  Do you want to visit Australia and see Ares Rock?  Do you want to see the Yantze River Canyons and experience the Orient on a budget perhaps?  Do you want to learn how to fly or learn how to sail or learn how to make a quilt perhaps?  Do you want to write a book and get paid for it?  Do you want to become a photographer and sell your work on-line?  Do you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and soar through the air like a bird?  (splat) What’s your dream?  Is it possible? Of course it is!

Under the Banyan tree on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Under the Banyan tree on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It’s all possible and it doesn’t take enormous amounts of money and good health to do these things, because if you can’t get out there to experience them in the flesh, you can still do them all from your own home, in your own easy chair, cheaply and feel the experience, the thrill of almost being there, the sights and sounds of it all without having to be there in person.  In fact you don’t even have to get out of bed to experience a lot of these dreamy things, but it makes it more fun if you do.  The key here is to get connected…  through the internet of course…

I’m talking about the virtual world that you can experience in this 21st century we are all living in today.  Do it on-line if you can’t get out there because of lack of money or lack of health.  You can experience anything you want on-line and all you need is a high speed internet connection and a computer.  it’s that simple, believe me.

The high speed internet connection is available from your cable or telephone company and they have lots of plans to choose from wherever you live these days.  Some of the outlying areas of Canada and the US might be a challenge, but about 90% of both countries are covered with high speed internet now, certainly within the urban areas.  In rural areas, there are satellite connections that can be used and both Canada and the US are determined to have high speed internet to their entire countries in the very near future.

You can use any type of modern computer but it should be capable of streaming video on an HD display in order to get the full effect of your experience.  I suggest a laptop or an Apple iPad would work best.  The quality of the image on modern day laptops and the Apple iPad’s are outstandingly beautiful in high definition and full stereo sound.  You don’t have to spend a fortune either.  An iPad Air which is the 5th generation of the iPad these days costs around $520.  The video quality is exceptional and they are convenient to use, especially for us older folks.  You’ll be able to read your mail, watch movies, compose letters, keep your calendar up to date, surf the internet and thousands of other things with an iPad Air or a MacBook Air.  My wife loves to read books that she either buys on-line or downloads from the library system. She also runs her own blog called www.justplainstuff.com  These devices are convenient and built like a brick so with the addition of a soft case for about $20 they’re virtually indestructible.

Another option is to buy a laptop with a reasonably big display.  Either a PC or a Mac, although I have found that the Apple MacBook products are much easier to use these days than PC laptops are. I’ve found them more stable and more user friendly.  As an aside, I personally don’t like Windows 8.  I find it cumbersome and hard to use, but that might be because I’m so used to the earlier versions of Microsoft Windows which I’ve used extensively over the last 20 years. Not only that, the interface on the Mac has stayed pretty much the same over the years whereas Windows have changed significantly over the same period and it’s another learning curve that we as older folk find a bit irritating with so many variations and a new learning curve every couple of years or so and an enormous cost to upgrade each time.

The MacBook Air is an amazing machine that works identically to the iPad but with so much more to offer.  The biggest difference is that it has a full keyboard whereas the iPad has one that pops up on the screen.  However, for an additional $80 you can buy a wireless, bluetooth keyboard that will connect with your iPad.  If you don’t like using the MacBook Air Touchpad, you can use a wireless mouse instead.  Either way they’re very easy to use and very easy to learn to use for newbies.

So guess how many videos are on YouTube.  Five years ago there were 120 million that you could watch.  Today there are a trillion viewings on YouTube each year.  And all you need is a simple computer to enjoy any one of them.  YouTube is the second largest web browsing search engine in the world behind Google.  There is likely anything you could ever want to watch or learn from up on YouTube now and thousands of new videos are uploaded per day to add to the collection.  And it’s all free on the internet.

That same computer can be used to watch Netflix or anything that’s available on Apple iTunes that’s for sale too.  The thing I like about Netflix is that it costs $8.00 per month for unlimited viewing of anything they have.  It’s simple to use and the quality is exceptional.  Did you miss the first few years of Downton Abbey?  Get it on Netflix.  Did you want to watch the entire Bones series?  Get it on Netflix. How about some international comedies in French, Italian, Spanish or German?  Or perhaps some of the older episodes of TV shows that you missed and for those of us that need them, most of them come with subtitles just like regular TV.

My iMac computer screen showing the YouTube application with a video playing in HD.

My iMac computer screen showing the YouTube application with a video playing in HD.

My iPad with the wireless keyboard and some reminders that we live in a beautiful country where any food is available nearly anytime.

My iPad with the wireless keyboard and some reminders that we live in a beautiful country where any food is available nearly anytime.

And finally the learning experience on your own personal computer is further enhanced by what’s available to everyone in terms of on-line courses.  Do you want to learn about computers or to speak another language or learn how to make a fence or clean a carpet?  It’s all there for free or for a reasonable price.  And one of the most amazing free services on the web is Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that anyone can upload specialized information to if they want to or correct what has been written if it is wrong.

So that’s my thing for this time on how to make your life more interesting on these cold days in February.  Why not perk up your life and talk to some of your friends that need a jump start in their lives?   Show them that you care and that life as a senior without much money to spend can have a vital connection with others through the internet and at the same time learn a new skill that has especially come to maturity in the 21st century.  Oh, and by the way why not subscribe if you haven’t done so yet to my blog and read all the action packed, exciting adventures of this laughing fool on a weekly basis.  Just click below… 


 


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