By Alex Cohen
I will not lie, the closer we get to our “take off date” the more anxious I become. What started out as a dream and a wish is finally becoming a reality – we should always be careful with what wish for!
This trip marks a lot of “firsts” for me – this is the first time I have ever slept on a bus (forget for 5 nights in a row!), the first time I’ve spent a whole week away from my husband, the first time I’ve visited many of these places, the first time I’ve ever lived with any of my co-workers.
There are also a lot of what ifs bouncing around in my mind. What if the people and organizations we’re visiting don’t welcome us as I hope they will? What if they do welcome us, but they don’t like us once they meet us? What if the bus breaks down in the middle of the road? What if I get tongue-tied with the press like Ralph Kramden on the Honeymooners when he was trying to sell the apple corer?
In these moments of anxiety, what calms me is focusing on the reason we are doing this: to learn, inspire, and give. We want to bring attention to the middle of the country, the states that seem to have been forgotten. When we heard that we will be visiting some of the poorest in this country I couldn’t believe it. We are one of the richest nations in the world, but so many of us live with little or nothing – how is this possible?
By driving across the country doing, we want to show people that giving comes in many forms. Our goal is to teach and inspire people to give of themselves anyway they can big or small. Every person is capable of making a difference in someone else’s life. Imagine a world where everyone does something nice for someone else every day. And then imagine that person pays it forward… Imagine the joy. Imagine the peace.
Another huge plus is that my oldest and only son is coming with us to document this journey, and having him there means the world to me. I just hope he is still talking to us after the six days – and hope he edits out the crazy in his videos.
And here are my travel companions’ feelings about our upcoming adventure…
The biggest reason I decided to join The Giving Tour, was to capture and highlight the incredible people across this country dedicated to making their communities better. Giving them a voice to tell their stories and bring notice to their causes is far more important than any single donation anyone could ever make. The miles we cover will never compare to the sacrifice and commitment millions of Americans make every day to help better the lives of others around them. I hope to engage and explore a new community of a volunteers, dreamers, philanthropists, caregivers, and socially conscious Americans.
For me, the trepidations about this trip are of a personal nature – I am a social person but need my alone time on a daily basis, so the thought of being in close quarters on a bus for six days with my co-workers makes me very anxious. (Anyone who knows me well will tell you that, my anxiety can occasionally manifest itself in an aggressive manner – so what if I can’t stand my co-workers after 6 days or vice versa?) The other issue that weighs heavy on my heart is the thought of spending eight days away from my young daughter during the school year. (I’m a single mom.) So my hope is that, in the end, this will be a huge life learning experience where the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
Stoked. If I had to sum up how I’m feeling about this trip in one word, it would be stoked. I’m a little bit of a travel junkie and am always down for an adventure, especially one where we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on numerous lives along the way. It can be really easy to go through life just looking, but this trip will be different; on this trip we will be doing a lot of seeing. The distinction seems small but so important; looking is passive while seeing is active. When you see you understand, perceive and pay attention to what’s really going on. I have a strong feeling our perspectives will widen each day, enabling us to be better and more conscious residents of this planet.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” Or, at least, that is what I keep reminding myself when we discuss the specifics of living, eating, sleeping on the bus for six days straight. When I start to get a little nervous I breathe and take a step back – this is an amazing chance to embark on a sort of trip I’ve never gone on before; to travel to states and cities I have yet to visit, to see beautiful places I’ve only seen in pictures, to meet new people with different experiences, and to volunteer with organizations and people that work day in and day out to improve the lives of people in need in their own communities. In less than a week we will be on that bus starting the experience of a lifetime – and I cannot wait to see what it brings.