Sunday, September 9, 2012

Travel | “… and the unicorns danced”

Image of narwhal from
Brehms Tierleben

Following is a passage from Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek” that inspires a “mini-retirement”:

The Bora-Bora Dealmaker
Baffin Island, Nunavut 
Josh Steinitz stood at the edge of the world and stared in amazement. He dug his boots into the six feet of sea ice and the unicorns danced.
               Ten narwhals – rare cousins of the beluga – came to the surface and pointed their six-foot-plus spiral tusks toward the heavens. The pod of 3,000-pound whales then fell into the depths once again. The narwhals are deep divers – more than 3,000 feet in some cases – so Josh had at least 20 minutes until their reappearance.
               It seemed appropriate that he was with the narwhals. Their name came from Old Norse and referred to their mottled white and blue skin
               Náhvalr – corpse man.
               He smiled as he had done often in the last few years. Josh himself was a dead man walking.
               One year after graduating from college, Josh found out that he had oral squamous carcinoma – cancer. He had plans to be a management consultant. He had plans to be lots of things. Suddenly none of it mattered. Less than half of those who suffered from this particular type of cancer survived. The reaper didn’t discriminate and came without warning.
               It became clear that the biggest risk in life wasn’t making mistakes but regret: missing out on things. He could never go back and recapture years spent doing something he disliked.
Two years later and cancer-free, Josh set off on an indefinite global walkabout, covering expenses as a freelance writer. He later became the cofounder of a website that provides customized itineraries to would-be vagabonds. His executive status didn’t lessen his mobile addiction. He was as comfortable cutting deals from the over-water bungalows of Bora-Bora as he was in the log cabins of Swiss Alps.
He once took a call from a client while at Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier. The client needed to confirm some sales numbers and asked Josh about all the wind in the background. Josh’s answer: “I’m standing at 10,000 feet on a glacier and this afternoon the wind is whipping us down the mountain.” The client said he’d let Josh get back to what he was doing.
Another client called Josh while he was leaving a Balinese temple and heard the gongs in the background. The client asked Josh if he was in church. Josh wasn’t quite sure what to say. All that came out was, “Yes?”
Back among the narwhals, Josh had a few minites before heading to base camp to avoid polar bears. Twenty-four-hour daylight meant he had much to share with his friends back in the land of cubicles. He sat down on the ice and produced his satellite phone and laptop from a waterproof bag. He began his e-mail in the usual way.
“I know you’re all sick of seeing me have so much fun, but guess where I am?”

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