And Through It All
Travels Without Charley
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I wrote a short newsletter about ‘managing the unexpected’ just six weeks ago. What follows is a real-world story of how one family managed to do just that.
“I left my home and my country nearly three years ago. My mother had died many years before, and I felt it was time to do something different since it was clear that there really was nothing for me where I lived - and I had a dream.”
As he thought about his life, he met his future wife in his hometown and together they put in place plans that would take them to the other side of the world.
His wife was Japanese and they left their home in the summer of 2019 to come to New Zealand and realize that dream .. to become an airline pilot … arriving in New Plymouth to start the training towards the end of that year.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
… a famous quip from Mike Tyson when asked if he was worried about his upcoming fight with Evander Holyfield.
My new friend’s ‘punch in the mouth’ was COVID which descended on the world just a couple of months after he arrived in New Zealand. He got into the country. The training went on hold.
His fallback occupation in the hospitality industry was also not going to work out. The graph below is the clearest indication of the challenge he faced.
But somehow they got through it all.
He is from Ukraine. Two of his languages are Ukrainian and Russian. His wife is Japanese and doesn’t speak either. English is therefore the defacto household language and will soon be their son's first language, who arrived a little over a year ago.
Does he remain in communication with his father?
“Yes - every day we Facetime. Every day.”
So he is safe?
… though the reply is hesitant.
His father only speaks Russian and lives in the city of Dnipro … it might ring a bell.
Our conversation was just two days ago. I thought about it this morning as I read the news: Russia sends reinforcements to Kharkiv to repel Ukraine counterattack.
Had we not talked, I would never have known his story. Even now, how can I? How can you experience someone else’s life through conversation?
What I can say is that had we not talked … properly, we wouldn’t get to the real story. At first meeting, he reveals a lovely, calming, gentle, warm and welcoming soul. I have no reason to believe that this would be any different at the hundredth.
We all have these stories. Don’t we?
It is revealing them that adds to our humanity.
It is knowing them that can help us understand our world.
Travels Without Charley has been a staple of the People First blog for a while, but I wanted to share this story as part of my newsletter. I hope you agree that it was worth it.