For as long as I can remember, I have been on safari.
When I was ten years old, my parents gave me a tiny transistorized short wave radio that fit in the palms of my hands. At night I laid in bed and listened to broadcasts from around the world. It didn't matter if the broadcasts were in French, English, Spanish, Swahili, or Chinese. I imagined myself in hundreds of different destinations on planet earth.
I didn't know how I would ever get there, but one day I would visit all of those places.
Much later in life I discovered that I was addicted to freedom, and I became a citizen of the world.
Freedom has many different faces.
I was born in a country in which freedom forms the cornerstone of our democracy.
We have a Bill of Rights that guarantees basic freedoms unknown in many parts of the world. The truth is, everywhere on planet earth, people are free, but the consequences of exercising that freedom may be catastrophic.
I have been in countries in which the secret police are more than happy to watch you exercise your personal freedom, because it makes their job easier. They know who they need to keep under surveillance.
Any country without a Bill of Rights is a scary place to live, and for that matter, any country eroding their Bill of Rights is turning its back on greatness. To the degree they amend their fundamental freedoms, to that degree they have fallen from grace and trivialized the sacrifices made by all who have gone before that gave their lives to guarantee their freedom.
Many people don't understand the meaning of freedom. They talk about freedom, but worship at the altar of irresponsibility. They actually believe the world owes them the right to do whatever they want, irrespective of the impact it has on themselves or other people. That's not freedom; it's anarchy and chaos.
If you can take the Bill of Rights seriously without sliding down the slippery slope of irresponsibility, you are headed in the right direction. That doesn't mean you are free, but at least you have a firm foundation on which you can build a life.
The Bill of Rights protects your freedom from being compromised by forces outside yourself. But there is nothing in that document that makes you free, because true freedom comes from within.
Your culture has many powerful forces at work that would curtail your personal freedom, but they never march in the front door and put shackles on your arms and legs, They come in the back door with their ball and chain, place them on the table, and let you put them on all by yourself. They don't need to strong arm you or even intimidate you, because you will make choices that will shackle you more securely than a regiment of secret police ever could.
When you sign on the dotted line for a thirty year mortgage on an expensive house and a five year loan on a fancy car, you just put the shackles on, and it's going to be a long time before you have enough freedom chips to once again be free. You know exactly what you are going to be doing in the foreseeable future, maybe even for the next thirty years.
Without realizing it, young people often make choices that last a lifetime. Those who exercise their freedom to engage in promiscuous behavior and inject drugs often find themselves shackled to hepatitis B and AIDS, their new and unwanted life long companions who will not and cannot go away. It's unfortunate that God didn't install a freedom meter in the middle of their forehead, so they could take a look in the mirror to check out the long term consequences of the choices they make.
During most of my adult life, I have placed a high value upon maintaining my personal freedom to the greatest extent possible. Nevertheless, most of the time, the choices I have made have limited my freedom to a significant degree.
There's not a lot of freedom when you spend four years in college, four years in medical school, five years in internship, residency, and fellowship training that made me into a board certified ophthalmologist, and retina and vitreous surgeon. That's thirteen years shackled to the study carrel in the library, the emergency room, the operating theatre, and all that has to happen before I could put up my shingle and practice medicine independently in the real world. Add to that the responsibility of raising a family and paying for their education all the way through university. That's why I didn't dispose of my scalpel or take down my shingle until I was forty-seven years old.
So what did I do to keep from going crazy in my world of limited freedom?
First, I chose to work overseas in international medicine. This single choice opened the floodgates of freedom, the likes of which haven't been seen in the United States for fifty years.
Overseas, doctors are still held in high esteem, and I was able to practice my craft unencumbered by the dead weight of Medicare, insurance companies, and a legal system running amok.
When I worked overseas, my job was to help people. Period. Not to fill out Medicare forms. Not to argue with insurance companies for reimbursement. Not to practice defensive medicine because I needed to cover my buns.
My patients knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was their advocate, and I would move heaven and earth to do everything humanly possible to fix their detached retina, to restore lost vision. They trusted in God, and they trusted in me, and rightly so. If you can't trust your doctor and hand him your burdens, then you need to visit another physician.
Practicing medicine in the third world was an extremely demanding but very liberating experience, and if I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing. Freedom to practice your craft in an unencumbered manner is worth its weight in gold.
Second, even though I lived and worked for sixteen years in Saudi Arabia, I had more personal freedom in Arabia than in any place I have lived in the world. The reason is simple. In Arabia, I lived in a parallel universe in which none of the rules affecting the Saudis applied to me. At the same time, the long arm of my own culture didn't reach across the sea and control my daily life.
I had the freedom to be myself and live my life how I pleased as long as I showed up for work on time and practiced my profession with integrity. Everyone who has been an expatriate in Arabia knows what I am talking about, and that's why so many of them worked there for such a long time. The parallel universe can be a wonderful place to invest your life.
Third, the Arabian desert was one of the last places on planet earth where you could do expeditionary travel without fear of running over landmines or getting caught in a crossfire in a civil war. Arabia was peaceful, and you could get in your Land Rover Defender and drive off-road for 500 kilometers in any direction once you were outside Riyadh, and no one cared where you went. They didn't even stop you at checkpoints. They simply motioned you and your Land Rovers through the checkpoints, because the authorities knew you were not a threat; you were just going into the desert to have the adventure of a lifetime.
There is no place on planet earth that was safer or more accessible to people who wanted to drive off-road. The Empty Quarter is the biggest sandbox in the world with sand dunes hundreds of feet high, and we spent weeks each year exploring this sandy playground.
Fourth, I saved freedom chips. Each year that I lived in the magic kingdom, I saved up more freedom chips, so that one day I could buy a freedom machine, a catamaran, that I would sail around the world.
Fifth, I chose to live the unencumbered life. That means I kept my infrastructure to a minimum whenever possible. I never owned a house during the twenty-eight years that I worked overseas, but I did own six Land Rover Defenders that made my safari dreams come true.
Finally, freedom is just a thought away. You can't be free until you learn to think thoughts that result in freedom. You must think and act freedom into your life.
When I sit behind the wheel of my Land Rover Defenders, I can feel the freedom start to bubble up in my mind. And when I look at Exit Only anchored in paradise, I thank God that I live in a place and time in which I have the freedom to sail on the ocean of my dreams.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.