On Sharing

Haven’t you ever elbowed someone and said, “Isn’t that the neatest (or coolest, or most wonderful or most whatever) thing you have ever seen?”  You both look at each other, grin and nod in happy agreement.

To share a view or an experience with a good friend sends little shivers of pleasure up your spine. And to recall it later brings back that wonderful memory, and the joy you had in sharing it.

People are notorious for wanting to share experiences with their friends. My sister just got back from a spiritual retreat in a little town in Mexico. She described it and the fun she and her friends had had, but it wasn’t the same as being there.

Back in the day, remember when you were invited over to watch a slide show of someone’s trip? Or listen to someone try to share their fun times with you? You groaned and went, but it was always, “I wish you could have been there.”

Now-a-days, the pictures are posted on Facebook or Instagram. Glorious images (if your friend is a good photographer) or slightly blurry photos (if they aren’t) scroll across your cell phone. The few words of explanation and the limited descriptions of being there just don’t really capture the experience. Your friends hope that you get to enjoy the trip vicariously, and you wish you could, too, but it’s not the same.

And teachers are the worst. History teachers especially. All summer they spend their time traveling to historic places that thrilled them to their very souls. Pictures of a ride on a camel across the sands to see the pyramids. Or descriptions of standing in the echoing expanse of the underground church at Cordoba. Or the marvel of the swirling columns of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church. These are experiences the teacher will never forget and wants so badly to share with their students.

How many teachers have reams of postcards or boxes of those black, plastic carousels of slides? (Yes, that was they custom, back in the day).And how many students have groaned at seeing the teacher announce the slideshow? Or hated to have “Professor Video” haul out a film series? Or just dozed off during the presentation, learning to hate history in the process? (Oh, ouch!)

And that is one of the reasons teachers take students on field trips. A western trip hauling fifteen students from New Mexico to the Canadian border in two vans, camping and cooking out to save money. Or reenacting the Goliad massacre in tents on chilly March mornings. Or taking high school students to Europe for six almost interminable weeks. That was real sharing.

And once we are not in school, all too often we sit in our recliners or snuggle on the couch watching someone else on television enjoy a location or thrill at an experience. Perhaps regretfully, we think to ourselves, “We could have been there.” Some people actually do go out and try to replicate the experience. Okay, perhaps not wrestling alligators. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes frustrating, sometimes terrifying, but it is certainly worth the try. Laughing later over the difficulties is half the fun.    

After forty years of teaching, I have finally realized that sharing history is my raison d’etre, my very good “reason for being.” It is also my reason for starting my miniscule tour company. Small, local, and focused, I love to share the magnificent places and the fascinating stories of Texas, or northern Mexico, or even Spain.

Thanks to my hubby, I now have a comfortable, cozy party van. (No, we don’t take it to Mexico or Spain). The Joye Mobile, named for a church friend, is a large, black 15-passenger van complete with stripper pole, sparkle lights and massive overhead speakers. The wrap-around seating makes it easy to invite new and old friends along to see sites or places they may have heard of but never seen. Or just to party around the dance pole with the speakers cranked up, blaring music as we drive down the road.  

Yes, there is fear in starting my own company. My friends at the Small Business Development Center were quick to point out that 90% of all small companies fail within the first five years. Thanks, good to hear.

And fear of failure does paralyze me into inactivity. Especially when I am faced with learning to conquer web pages and advertising and marketing and accounting and, God forbid, Quickbooks, all at the same time. Fear of failing to fill a tour. Fear of not making enough to pay the bills. Fear of offering a tour only to have it not make. It becomes so overwhelming that it is all too often easier to just curl up with a good book or bury myself in Youtube videos of the political comedians. It’s no wonder small businesses fail.

Once I faced my fear, however, I realize that I really do love sharing history. I really do want to help people “walk in their footsteps” as my logo says. I want my guests to share my excitement at seeing the Trinity River in flood and to understand that three hundred years ago that flood drove Antonio Gil y Barbo and his East Texas families back to Nacogdoches. Weird, right?

Years from now, my friends and I will share the stories of the trip down the Copper Canyon, the nauseating rocking of the yacht on the sea of Cortez, the magnificent sunset, the chilly attempts at snorkeling. They will understand and remember what we shared.

That is where that elbow in the ribs comes in, and the grin, and the shiver up the spine.

Sharing. What a joy!

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