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The Ultimate Question To Ask While Contemplating An Opportunity

Monica Wilcox's picture

Ninbra (Gondola Ride in Venice, Italy)

It was the quote that made the movie worth watching:

Silent Bob: That's when I look her straight in the eye, I tell her it's over. I walk.

Jay: Fuckin' A!

Silent Bob: No, idiot. It was a mistake. I didn't hate her. I wasn't disgusted with her. I was afraid. At that moment, I felt small, like... like I'd lacked experience, like I'd never be on her level, like I'd never be enough for her or something like that, you know what I'm saying? But, what I did not get, she didn't care. She wasn't looking for that guy anymore. She was... she was looking for me, for the Bob. But, uh, by the time I figure this all out, it was too late, man. She moved on, and all I had to show for it was some foolish pride, which then gave way to regret. She was the girl, I know that now. But I pushed her away. So, I've spent every day since then chasing Amy... so to speak.    –From the movie Chasing Amy, 1997

Some of us have spent our lives chasing an Amy. Others of us have been chasing an Adam. Not me. I’ve spent my adult life chasing a Venetian gondola.

It started on a corner of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. It was May, 1997 and my husband and I were stewing. Should we take an “over-priced” 10 minute gondola ride or not? You can guess our final decision. If we would have taken that ride I’d be sharing my foggy memories of a sexy gondolier dressed in a cheesy costume. Would it have ended up on my Top Ten Experiences? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is we walked away. We gave up the Venetian experience (seriously, who leaves Venice without riding a gondola?) for cash in our pocket.    

And we’ve been chasing that boat ever since.

Just Don’t Let Us Catch It

Missing that ride changed our lives. We’ve visited 32 countries since that morning in Venice and every “overpriced experience” that interested us we have done;

-          A camel ride to the Egyptian Pyramids? Hand me the reigns!

-          Jet boating up a New Zealand canyon? Strap me up!

-          Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef? Zip me in!

-          A balloon ride over an active Costa Rican Volcano? I’ll bring the wine!

-          Caving in a Hawaiian lava tube? Turn on my headlamp!

-          Bungee jumping off a bridge? Let me send the hubby!

Our greatest travel experiences have always preceded these words, “Remember the gondola ride!”

We’re Still Chasing That Ride

We were chasing that boat just two weeks ago. It was a splendid day on the dock in Juneau, Alaska, and we were stewing about an “over-priced” helicopter ride to the top of glacier. Sure, we had tried to do this in New Zealand (cancelled due to bad weather). Yeah, there was a camp full of dogs waiting for us to mush a sled.  And yes, it is impossible to grasp the last frontier from the window of a cruise ship. But getting four people on a glacier was going to cost us a chunk of money. Would we get enough out of the experience to justify the money? As you can see, we have yet to catch that gondola.

So I turned to that pillar of modern advice, Facebook. One of my Canadian friends, Ken, replied that he had taken this same helicopter/dogsled excursion a few years earlier. “The dog sled and the helicopter ride to get there was one of the real highlights of the trip. It was the whole ‘adventure’ thing and it left a lasting memory. To be honest, I thought all the excursions were very expensive, but I tried not to think about it. I now remember the excursion but I don't remember how much it cost.”

His comment sold us on the experience and it turned out to be one of the greatest moments of our lives.

That’s Why We Chase

To be honest, I don’t remember how much that gondola ride would have cost us. I don’t remember how much it cost us to dive with tropic fish, or crawl through lava tubes or ride a camel. I don’t remember the cost in time or money of any of these moments but I absolutely remember the experience.

Isn’t this true of life? Think back to the best date you’ve ever experienced. Now tell me how much it cost you? When you think about graduating from college do you sigh over the hours of studying? Can you even guesstimate that number? What about your last job promotion? How many work hours did you give to achieve it? The truth is, no matter what we are doing we rarely remember the cost. What sticks with us is the experience or the lack of it. In the movie Chasing Amy, Silent Bob isn’t chasing a woman as much as he is chasing the ideal relationship, just as I am chasing a momentous travel experience.

When life throws you an opportunity, disregard the cost. The question to ask is, “Can I live without it? Will I end up chasing this for the rest of my life?”


Divorced Kat's picture

Stopping getting in your own way

I really like this post. In a lot of cases, yes, I can live just fine without X. But there are certainly times when I've overthought, overjudged, or overanalyzed the crap out of something to convince myself not to engage, and it was a mistake.

Sangeeta Bhagwat's picture

Totally Agree!

Valuing the intangibles or the non-material is something so many of us forget to do. This is a subject that comes up often with my clients. Thank you for sharing such a simple, wonderful example. It will be useful for me in many ways :)

And yes, even I opt for any experience I would like, even if it is high priced. I see little point in shopping, whereas a once-in-a-lifetime experience is something one cherishes throughout life!

Sharing on flipboard and twitter :)

Greg Mischio's picture

So true

Man, Monica, you completely nailed it. Ironic that, at the moment, we're planning a trip out West and I'm fretting about one of the little excursions we've got planned. Good to read this post so I won't be chasing Amy!

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