When I think about “me-at-my-best”, the way I like to be when I’m traveling, one of the qualities that comes to mind is “resilience”. Because things happen on trips, don’t they? You get sick. You lose your passport. You get into a fender bender. How you respond to travel adversity is a true sign of character.

My wife, Donica, and I have traveled to western Thailand, 3 hours north of the River Kwai, to a town called Thong Pha Phum. No one goes to this village – at least not your average tourist. Which is exactly why we’re there – to enjoy a slower way of life. It’s a sleepy, one-street town, with a market, a temple, and a 7-11 that serves Thai ice tea out of a machine the way you’d find a Slurpee at home. (Wow!) We love this place! On our second day there, I point to a far off hill top, topped by a small golden pagoda, and declare, “Let’s go there!” The site is about a 60-minute walk, across a bridge, through a monastery, and up a flight of narrow steps. Although the pagoda and accompanying temple are nothing to speak of, artistically, (when compared to the epic monuments elsewhere in Thailand), we’re impressed by the 360-degree view of the countryside and decide to stay for awhile and talk. Before entering, a boy at the points to a rack and suggests we leave our shoes there before setting foot in the temple, standard-operating-procedure in Thailand.

Hours later (or so it seems), more than satisfied with our laid-back afternoon conversation, we’re preparing to leave when Donica shrieks, “Where are my shoes?”
“Mine are right there where I left them.”
“Well, mine aren’t. They’re gone!”

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know if the boy stole Donica’s shoes, or someone else did it, or perhaps a light-fingered monkey. Nor will we ever know why someone took her shoes and not mine. But the fact remains, we have a long walk back to town, we’re at the top of a hill in Thailand, and my wife has no shoes!

A lesser person might have thrown a fit, perhaps letting loose with a string of expletives. Donica just takes a deep breath, exhales, and sighs, “He must have needed them more than me. I can walk back barefoot.” Which is exactly what we do: down the stairs, through the monastery (of confused monks), across the bridge, and back to town. Donica is one tough cookie (with really tough feet). Back in the market, we discover numerous stalls brimming with used (borrowed?) shoes! Alas, my wife’s sneakers are nowhere to be found. To this day, we still laugh that one day we’ll go back to Thong Pha Phum and find her shoes!

When was the last time you met with mishap on a trip? What would it mean if you could just roll with punches, go with the flow, resilient! – both on your trips and, more importantly, back home in your daily life?