One of the attendees I met at The Home Entertainment (T.H.E.) Show in Long Beach last month was a guy named Carter. Every time I noticed him in the listening rooms or hallways, he had a smile on his face. So, when I observed him the next morning sitting alone at breakfast, I asked if I could join him. “Absolutely,” he responded; “I’d appreciate the company.” I discovered that Carter was a retired Texas oil man who loved both music and motorcycles – just like me. We soon felt like kindred spirits and chatted about everything. I told him about my multi-amped stereo system and my recent 1,500-mile motorcycle ride through the Sierras.
He told me about his tour of Europe a few years earlier. “I informed my son I was going traveling for the summer,” he chuckled, “But I was there for almost two years! I’ve loved music all my life, every type of music, but never had time to indulge my passion, so I made a point of attending every concert I could. I heard the best orchestras in cities from Dublin to Vienna and Stockholm to Athens. I auditioned the biggest church organs in Europe, hundreds of chamber orchestras and quartets, saw dozens of local folk music performances, and even a Mongolian throat singing group in Munich!” He went on, “I met all kinds of fascinating people. You know that most of them speak English over there? Surprised me! I got invited to many parties and events, and was often a house guest. Sometimes I woke up wondering where the hell I was at! Best thing I ever did.
When I got back to the States, I spent a couple of months with my son, and he drew me back into the oil business. All my anxieties, frustrations, and worries returned, so over a drink one evening, I told him, ‘Look son, I’ve enjoyed being with you and your family, but I’ve got to get out of here. I’m starting to feel ill and I don’t like that feeling.’
So I went to South America and did the same thing I did in Europe, attended all the major concert halls, church recitals, and cultural events I could find. I had a ball, met all kinds of people, though not many spoke English, and stayed in many places I didn’t expect to stay at. Best thing I ever did!”
He continued, “But after a year or so, I got homesick and decided to do something different. My son had a Honda Gold Wing in his garage, so I asked if I could take it to Alaska. We used to do a lot dirt riding together when he was a kid, and although he expected to continue riding, family and work got in the way. So, I used it for a couple of years to travel the US like I did Europe and South America – as a tourist taking in everything I could. I rode north in summer and south in winter. I visited 45 states and attended most of the big motorcycling events including Sturgis, Laconia, and Daytona. I met many people, was often a house guest, and woke up sometimes wondering where the hell I was at. Best thing I ever did.”
“Sounds like you’ve lived a charmed life,” I commented.
“Well, not exactly. My eldest son died in Afghanistan, and my wife committed suicide four years later. She just couldn’t come to terms with his loss. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 and given six months to live.”
“Good Lord, now I feel foolish for calling your life charmed.” I apologized.
“No, don’t,” he responded; “Getting sick was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Yah, I’d become so trapped in my role as a successful oil man, it never occurred to me that there was more to life. It took a terrifying disease to shock me out of my smugness and prompt a change in lifestyle. I figured if I’ve got only six months to live, I’m sure as hell not going to spend them in the oilfields, I’m going traveling.”
“Well, um, how come you’re looking so healthy now?” I asked gingerly. “Have you ever gone back to the doctor?”
“I did, the same one who diagnosed me six years earlier. My son insisted on it.”
“Well, what did he say?” I asked.
“Said he couldn’t find a trace of the cancer. Surprised the hell out of both of us. He couldn’t believe the test results so he asked me to go to a research hospital for further tests.”
“I wasn’t going to do that! What do I care, I feel healthy and I tested healthy, but my son insisted.”
“So what did they say?”
“Well, the head honcho there came to the same conclusion as our family doctor; no trace of cancer. She told me I did the right thing by going traveling and gave me a note to carry around with me. I had it laminated in plastic and read it every morning.”
Carter handed me the note and I copied it. It read, “If you place genetically identical cells in different culture mediums, they will express differently. If they are placed in a toxic medium, they will wither and eventually die. If they are placed in a nourishing environment, they will grow and flourish. You had the foresight to remove yourself from what had become a toxic environment into a nourishing one, Carter, so the expression of your genes changed accordingly. You rid yourself of disease by ridding yourself of dis-ease. I’m going to use your example to inspire all my patients.”
He added, “I read it every morning to remind me of what I need to focus on. If I’d stayed in Texas, I’d have focused on my cancer. I’d have visited all kinds of doctors and clinics trying to get healed. These trips have taught me that life’s like a vacation; you can’t appreciate it if you’re focused on its conclusion. I don’t do conclusions anymore; I’m too busy planning my next adventure. I’m riding to Laconia bike week tomorrow and touring New Zealand this summer. Next year, I’m flying to Germany for the Oberammergau Passion Play.” He added excitedly, “I can hardly wait!”
I was very impressed with Carter so I gave him my contact info and invited him to stay at our house in San Diego. He may wake up wondering where the hell he’s at, but I bet he’ll tell us that coming to visit was the best thing he ever did.
Header image: Honda GL 1800 Gold Wing, from honda-mideast.com.