Instead of writing this blog posting, I should be on a plane to London and hence South Africa. From there the ticket would have taken me to Bahrain and in three weeks time back to Vancouver. Instead, I sit drinking a glass of wine and typing. You may justifiably conclude I am mad.
Earlier this week, I cancelled my travels to far places. I have being reviled. I have been defended. I have been congratulated. It is all nice to see and hear reaction to my simple decision. But it is all meaningless noise. I made a difficult decision and now I stick to it.
You may well ask why would any sane mining man would opt out of an opportunity to travel to such exotic places. The decision to go was made under pressure, or at least in response to an invitation. I was asked to go and deliver a keynote address at a commercial conference in Sandton, north of Johannesburg in South Africa. That is an honor and I shudder at opting out.
Then I was able to plan a trip to Bahrain to see my son and his family including two beautiful grandkids. The rot started when I read an article that said American were involved in organizing protests against the ruling clique in Bahrain and that Americans would need a pre-approved visa to enter the country. So I applied on-line. The reply was rapid: Visa Not Approved.
“Don’t worry.” they all said. “Come and get a visa at the airport.” The travel agent said” “That is bad advice.” My boss said: “Don;t go if you do not have a visa.”
So I cancelled the trip. SImple as that. Well, not actually, for I had been dreading the long travel-hours in planes, reading in dull airports, the arrogance of immigration officials, the fear of car-jacking on the roads to the farm, the tiredness, the fatigue, the time-change, and all the rest. I was glad of an excuse.
Plus I had concluded that I have spent my life making sure others are happy; I had always put family, profession, job, client, and the benefits of others first. Damn it, I concluded, now at sixty-five it is time to do what I want, what please me and gives me pleasure.
I decided to do what gives me pleasure: drink a glass of home-made wine, watch a trashy movie, sleep in my own bed, maybe tomorrow go to a reprise of the MET Opera The Enchanted Island, ride my bike, read a second-rate detective novel, and slop about the house in casual clothes.
I have seen too many foreign cities. I have travelled in too many strange and dangerous places. I have endured too many long plane trips beside neurotic travellers and fat people who spill over into my space. I will do just what I want to and damn the rest.
Thus fortified and decided, I got a call from a potential client. Before I could think, I was on a three-hour plane trip to Phoenix, up a five, in a meeting by seven, and bombarded with plans, proposals, alternatives, cost estimates, risk evaluations, and the plethora of studies that go into making a decision about a new mine.
It all seemed so simple: they had been lead astray by ambitious and greedy, minor consultants. The scheme they favored would not work, Go back to first principles. Do the conventional and proven. Do not strike out into the unknown when you are investing billions in a foreign place. It may cost more to be conventional, but that is a safe bet with little risk.
We got back at midnight last night. I was so tired as I descended the stairs that I slipped and slid down the flight of stairs. Nothing broken, but lots bruised and sore. So the wine is a pain-killer and now I go to watch a trashy movie that I will never blog about.
Enjoy the weekend.