The Top 10 of a World Traveler….

Here’s something fun from a speech I recently gave:

Many of my peeps know that I’ve traveled to more than 65 countries, including two complete circumnavigations of the globe. I’ve seen Mt. Everest 7 times and I’ve swum through shipwrecks on the ocean floor. I’m an award-winning documentary filmmaker and by the end of this year I’ll be a five-times published author. In a life like that, what would make the top-10 list of favorite places?

10. Croton-on-Hudson, New York — a sweet, small town 50 minutes from midtown Manhattan. We had the best of both worlds: the small-town flavor near big-city sophistication. The youngest of 5, one of my favorite parts of my life is being part of a big family.

9. Boston, where I went to college. I just love that town.

8. Bodhgaya, India. I went there to interview the Dalai Lama for one of my movies, but that’s when he became ill and couldn’t even give his talk. That’s where the bodhi tree — where Buddha found his enlightenment — is. Monks circle the tree…they believe that the more you circle it, the faster you get to Nirvana and get off this wheel of incarnation we’re on.

All around the perimeter of the slatted walls are beggars, because part of the Buddhist tradition includes giving alms. I walked the length of one of the walls, looking at them all, much to their surprise. They’re apparently not used to being looked at. I locked eyes with one young girl and I saw eternity. I went to India to meet the Dalai Lama and what I found was God in the eyes of a beggar.

7. Viet Nam. The second time I went there was with a group of vets, and I filmed them doing humanitarian work and going back to their AOs, areas of operation. That movie won a very prestigious award.

6. The King’s Chamber in the big pyramid at Giza, Egypt. I had “a moment” there.

5. Soweto, South Africa. That’s its own speech/blog sometime.

4. Bolinas, a beautiful, small, hippie town on the Northern California coast about 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. Every time the highway department puts up a sign, the townspeople go take it down. They’re not willing to let their paradise become crowded.

Before I go into the top three I want to say that my life has included tremendous tragedy, too: around me has been death, alcoholism, sickness, drug addiction, mental illness, business failure, suicide — things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy if I had one. But in the midst of these things I found a way to joy, to peace. We often hear something along the lines of life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. The blessings of these events are the strength, resilience, and compassion they’ve given me.

3. Kathmandu. Jerusalem. The Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Christchurch, New Zealand. Rio de Janiero. Mt. Shasta, California. The Sultanate of Oman — just because I never, ever expected to find myself in the Sultanate of Oman. OK, yes, I’m totally cheating here…I just wanted to make sure these places were included on my list.

2. The outermost reaches of the cosmos. I’m a very, very spiritual person who knows that I’m made of the same stuff as those stars I look at. I’m connected to everyone, even Trump and Hitler. A roommate once said, “These are the voyages of Ann Crawford.” She wasn’t kidding! Not only am I — are we all — made of star stuff, but we can also shine just as brightly.

And the number 1 place on my top-ten list: The place where I first saw my husband. That instant will forever be my favorite moment of my life.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share this, and I’m very, very grateful for you.

The post picture is from the Island of Iona, Scotland.