Jun 09, 2012 | Written by Patricia Murphy

Day 1: PHX to ATL to AMS

I’m listening to Other People: Brad Listi interviewing David Shields, one of my favorite authors (check out Reality Hunger and also The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead). David just quoted Picasso, “a great painting comes together just barely.” Is that to be true about this trip? If there are 200 details we considered, 200 hours of training we logged, 200 pieces of gear we gathered, will there be one or two things that could ruin the trip? Or make the trip great, just barely?

We are starting out a little shaky. Cindy and Larry had an overweight bag and had to shuffle contents around to get it under. I misplaced my credit card at check-in and watched a long line of people form as the Delta agent and I searched everywhere for it, until I found it stuck in my immunization card. John has a belly ache. Our anxiety’s stuck at 11.

I’m a good traveller. Tanzania will be my 31st country. But Kilimanjaro terrifies me. Too many times to count in the last 5 months I have startled from deep sleeps with my heart racing, my mind sending me plummeting off a scraggly cliff.

Luckily I have gotten great advice. In response to my fretting, my adorable house sitter said “it’s like a math test. If you’re not ready you just take it anyway and walk away with your C-.” That was such a thoughtful reminder that we will be just fine. Even a “C-” trip to Africa is better than no trip at all.

When I Skyped with my 82 year old Auntie Lynn who has traveled the world, her response to my fretting was a chuckling “Don’t go!” We laughed together and I was left with a helpful reminder of my own free will, not to mention my privilege.

“I can’t turn my mind off, ever,” Brad Listi just said. And that is where I am. I know I’m ready for this. But my mind has some catching up to do. I tell it, “Don’t think about ice until you are cold. Don’t think about fatigue until you are tired. Don’t think about pain until you are sore.”

And so here I am in the air between Phoenix and Atlanta. I’m on vacation. I’m prepared. I’m untethered. I have free will. I am privileged.

I am going to have a great trip, just watch me.