Looking forward by looking to the past: Reliving youthful adventures

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Our family will spend New Years' Eve at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, a place that I was very near when I lived in the area some 37 years ago, but could not visit because the only way to get into the area was in military convoys.

I’m thankful as I near “retirement” age that, when I was much younger, I chose to travel off the beaten track. The decision to traverse Africa, through the Sahara, Congo, East Africa and then to southern Africa in when I was 23 years old in 1976 offered a true and extreme getaway experience – especially since this was before the Internet, wi-fi, and cellular phones. Even in the major cities, international communications required much expense and effort – so outside of a few snail mail letters, I was out of touch with home for months on end.

Like many intrepid explorers, once I had seen some things first hand, I decided to return for a second visit in 1978, this time to an immersive experience, living as a working journalist for 18 months through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. There was a bit more communication – especially through news articles I sent generally by postal mail, which were published by several Canadian newspapers. But still I was “out there”. While I could follow the news of the world from the wire machines at the Bulawayo Chronicle, connections on a more personal level were special and relatively infrequent.

(My father died just as the Rhodesia/Zimbabwe transition story reached its peak in late 1979 – I flew home for the funeral, spent a few weeks with my family, and returned to Africa – to an intense period of emotional growth and change before returning to Canada for good in May, 1980.)

This December, I will join my wife on a cruise from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to Cape Town, and after meeting our 20-year-old son in South Africa (we’re flying him in on points over Christmas), we’ll head north, to Bulawayo, Hwange, and Victoria Falls, for a seasonal tourist visit to southern Africa.

This will be a different type of travel; certainly somewhat more luxurious, and certainly with much more communication than could be contemplated almost four decades ago.

Obviously, much has changed in the life span from when I was a young adult to when I am about to be defined as senior citizen. Yet there are threads which hold the story together, linking the past and the future. Memories connect with adventure. Decisions made when I was young define the choices today.

Your personal story will of course be different, but there are common themes in most lives. The same applies for our businesses. There are ups and downs, successes and failures, relationships and surprises. The decisions we’ve made in the past influence and shape our present and future.

Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He can be reached by phone at (888) 627-8717 ext 224 or by email at buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com.

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