By Sally Ross
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
~ From “For the Traveler,” a poem by John O’Donohue
Invitations are constantly available in a traveler’s world. When I seek, listen, reach out, and take the chance to accept, invitations transform my journeys.
RESEARCHING: I loved the incredible statue of David in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia. But browsing in the gift shop afterwards, I noticed a concert advertisement. The invitation was clear: the concert was free and open to the public. That evening, sitting among Michelangelo’s Prisoners, I was immersed in the music of an antique harpsichord pulled from their Department of Musical Instruments, and David was even more stunning than before.
ACCEPTING: Phil, a Vietnam veteran and pilot, was visiting a friend in Scotland. I had never been to Fort George and Phil was interested. On the way home we passed Inverness Airport, went in to chat with the guys at Highland Aviation, and Phil said, “Shall we?” Two days later, with Phil and a local instructor, I accepted his invitation to fly the Highlands. We buzzed friends at Brora Golf Course and I saw my beloved castles, rivers, lochs, and hills in totally new ways.
DARING: Planning our trip to Istanbul, Kathy assumed a Turkish Bath was in the plan. We would bathe with others. Ok? Oh, why not! After all, the Cağaloğlu Hamami has been a traditional bath since 1741. It’s even listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die. But you can’t just “see” it. No, we plunged in with dozens of women, allowing experienced local women to scrub us, douse us with water, massage aching muscles, and turn us out again robed and relaxed. My takeaway? All women when naked are absolutely and sincerely beautiful. I’m still exploring what that means in my own life.
CONNECTING: I had a 6-day Paris Pass to explore all things touristy. But a Facebook friend told me to look up Steve, a guy from our high school, who had lived there for 10 years. I did, and bless him, Steve and his friends became my incredible guides for another week. With them I fell in love with Luxembourg Gardens, champagne in tiny cafes, Angelina’s for amazing hot chocolate, and their favorite, Le Marais, the historic section of Paris. As is so often true, locals love to show off what they love.
Oh, what I would have missed if I had been tired, afraid, or shy! Saying YES gives you the strength to live life more fully than you ever dreamed.
Sally Ross creates fine art photographs that soothe your soul. Retired from UGA’s College of Education, Sally travels widely, especially in Scotland, China, Italy, Russia, and South America. Her painterly images appear in juried exhibitions, galleries, and public art spaces across Georgia. Visit Sally Ross Photography at www.sallyrossphoto.com & http://sallyross.artistwebsites.com