When everything goes wrong…

“Just let me know when you’ve arrived…” Those words are spoken, in the most casual manner possible, by every parent when one of their offspring goes off on an adventure. The apparent nonchalance masks all sorts of worry, panic, imagined scenarios and disasters, even though you know they are no more than chimera.

He’d booked everything at budget prices, so there was no direct flight. At stopover of five hours in Muscat would not allow him to see anything of the place and just added to the fatigue of the journey.  But, when you know they have landed in foreign climes, (because you are watching the live flight updates, and they are now running nearly a further six hours late) and the phone remains silent for an eternity, the real panic sets in. Especially when said offspring is travelling with a wheelchair.

By the time you actually hear from them, the simple fact that they are alive and able to get in touch is enough. Then you hear about the wheelchair and mobility equipment lost in transit… the phone that ceased to function, the inaccessibility of taxis and public transport… the fact that without the lost mobility equipment, there is no way they can stay in the backpacker’s hostel they have booked…

Basically, it is a horror story unfolding. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, fatigue has set in and it seems as if the adventure has become a nightmare within hours of leaving London.

India had always been on the list, somewhere near the end. Not because it was a place he didn’t want to visit… he did, very much… but everything we had read about travelling in India suggested that it was something a wheelchair user, who is unable to walk, could only do easily with help, a fair amount of money to cover good hotels and transport, and plenty of travelling experience.

This particular son, though, has this knack for doing the unexpected. By the time I hear from him properly, he has been reunited with the wheelchair at least.

When everything went wrong, and instead of catching the next flight home or booking into a nice, reputable hotel until he can sort himself out… he entrusts himself to a total stranger and wanders off into the night with nowhere to stay…

…and there has been a slight change of plan. Instead of staying sedately in the relative safety of New Delhi for the duration of his holiday, in the continued absence of his mobility equipment, he has parked the wheelchair in an office and found a driver…

…and he is about to leave on a five thousand mile odyssey around India. As things turned out, he would end up travelling in cars, jeeps, rickshaws, and boats, on camels, elephants, horseback and pillion on a Royal Enfield motorbike.

He rose at dawn to watch the sun rise over the mountains and falls of Kerala, swam in the sea off Goa, bought me a saree in Jaipur, attended a wedding in Delhi, was blessed by a Brahmin in Holy Pushkar, was kissed by a sacred cow, and sent lotus candles floating down the Ganges in Varanasi.

Except for one night at Athirappilly Falls, he slept in cheap hotels, or in the home of his guide and on one occasion, in a taxi.

He had banquets cooked for him by housewives, ate street food, fish fresh from the net and giant Kerala prawns the size of lobsters… and somewhere along the way, managed to get over dysentery.

He watched dolphins and monkeys, caught a glimpse of a tiger, took the wheel of a houseboat, hauled in the Chinese fishing nets in Kerala and saw all the beauty of heaven on earth.

Thousands of miles and photos later, he’d had what would have been the trip of a lifetime for anyone. For someone in my son’s position, it was amazing. The people he met looked after him in ways no-one could have expected. The complete disregard for the twin gods of Health and Safety allowed him to do things he could not have imagined being able to do… and yet his wellbeing was held paramount by all those who decided to help him.

And none of it would have happened if everything had gone according to plan. There was a moment of choice… run away, take the safe route, or let the moment unfold and take a chance on the unknown.

It was risky… you would have to hear the whole story to know just how risky… but sometimes it is better to let go of plans and expectations and go with hope.

As we go into a new year, with hopes, dreams and with resolutions and plans in place, we can all get caught between the tramlines of expectation and design. There is nothing wrong with having all your plans carefully laid and working towards a goal… but sometimes, focussing on a single goal can blind us to possibility.

If we fail to realise that goal, it can leave us frustrated, disappointed or in despair at our own failure or life’s apparent refusal to respond to our efforts. Leaving the doors of possibility open allows us to see a wider landscape of opportunities. If we miss the one we are aiming for, perhaps there is another close at hand. ​Nick likened it to fishing… and the difference between baiting a hook and line to catch one fish, or throwing out a net and seeing what swims in. ​

My son, whose experience of life knocking you down is pretty extreme by any standards, believes that when life does knock you down, it is only because there is something better waiting in the wings… you just have to be ready to ride the opportunity as it arises.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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106 Responses to When everything goes wrong…

  1. If there were a “love” button, I’d have pushed it. A man after my own heart, but with issues of mobility I can’t even imagine. I have always been one to throw vacations up in the air and see how things fall. Not so much now because I’m still walking, but slowly, slowly, slowly … but until very recently. It was a gift I gave to Garry on our honeymoon, refusing to book ANY hotels or anyplace and finding someplace anywhere we landed. He loved it and after that, traveling was a true joy. But that you son can do it with all his limitations is glorious. Miraculous and delicious and wonderful!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I prefer that kind of trip too…but, given his cirumstances and everything we’d heard, he did book carefully… only to have it all fall apart. So he got the trip of a lifetime instead 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Auntysocial says:

    Good lad!!! What an absolute diamond 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ritu says:

    Nick is such an inspiration 💜

    Liked by 3 people

  4. barbtaub says:

    Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    Awe. That’s the feeling as I read Nick’s incredible odyssey. I’ve been to all these places, marvelled at these amazing sights, eaten that incredible food (and got as sick). I’ve witnessed firsthand the kindness of Indian strangers. But I did it with the company of friends, with a lifetime’s accumulation of resources, and—most of all—without a wheelchair. Nick’s demand to fully experience life is both humbling and exhilarating.

    A reminder of what it means to actively live your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow. Just wow! I’ve heard so many good things about India lately, would love to go. Your son sounds to be an amazingly strong young man. You must have been so worried while he was away. Glad he returned safely and with fabulous stories to tell

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jenanita01 says:

    My heart was in my mouth as I read about Nick’s adventures, and so glad he had such a great time despite everything conspiring against him. I think the universe can stop testing him now, don’t you think!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. willowdot21 says:

    Well Sue that certainly puts life into perspective! I am always so in awe of Nick he is a huge Inspiration. Knocks my problems into into a cotton socks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your son is amazing Sue. The photos are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How absolutely amazing, he has my complete admiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. quiall says:

    That kind of courage is inspiring! (From someone who lives life from the seat of a wheelchair)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Smith says:

    Happy New Year, Sue. A fantastic post to start the year. I’d seen some of his photos on Facebook. What’s next?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. fransiweinstein says:

    I don’t even know where to begin. Suffice to say, you are blessed. Your son has an important less to teach the world. Talk about inspiring, humbling and moving. Although having been to India, many of the places your son visited, I am not surprised he was so well cared for. They are the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met. And although they have nothing material and are poor beyond our wildest imagination they are generous in spirit and would give you the tattered shirts of their backs. As terrifying as his sdventure must have been for you, you deserve a lot of the credit, because you had a lot to do with who you son is — a strong, brave, determined, trusting adventurer who believes in himself and won’t be stopped from living a full and purposeful life. Just wow!!! Love his photos btw, they have brought back memories of my own trip to India.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jennie says:

    I am thrilled. I am humbled. I am moved. This story gives everyone the perspective they need. Joy!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. fransiweinstein says:

    Reblogged this on 365 And Counting and commented:
    I haven’t ever re-blogged a post because this space has always been about sharing my own thoughts and feelings. But I am so inspired by this blog post, written by a blogger I have followed for years about her son, I just have to share it. If this doesn’t inspire you to just go for it then nothing will. A perfect story for the start of a new year and all the possibilities it holds …

    Liked by 1 person

  15. scskillman says:

    Very moving and inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Happy New Year, Sue. This is a very inspiring post and you must be very proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nick is a real trooper, Sue, despite his disability. You can be very proud [I know you are but in Nick’s case it is really so deserved].

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Darlene says:

    Wow!! An incredible story. I wish everyone could be like your son. What a great memory he now has.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: When everything goes wrong… | Matthews' Blog

  20. memadtwo says:

    I’ll second that wow…what wonderful lessons Nick has to teach us all. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Wendy Janes says:

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Sue. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. paulandruss says:

    What a guy! This is a man who is not only going to have a great 2018…. but a great life. (But between you and me, I pity his poor mum!)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What an intrepid and awesome son you have, Sue. Guess he learned that from his mum. Hope he has a wonderful 2018. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  24. pjlazos says:

    Amazing story. Resilience seems to be a trait he’s inherited. Happy New Year and best wishes for 2018, Sue.😘🎉

    Liked by 1 person

  25. You have an amazing awesome young man there Sue! Happy New Year’s to you and your family🎉

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Widdershins says:

    Just back online after a nasty ice storm that knocked out the power for most of our region! … What a wonderful adventure!!! … I don’t think Nick knows the meaning of, ‘run away, take the safe route’ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  27. judithhb says:

    Reblogged this on I choose how I will spend the rest of my life and commented:
    This really started the second day of 2018 in the right way for me. I had to share.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Eliza Waters says:

    That Nick! He never ceases to amaze, grabbing life by the proverbial horns! 🙂 I keep hoping he’ll write a book of his adventures, it’ll be a bestseller!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. FlorenceT says:

    I LOVE his spirit… you must be so proud… (and petrified at times 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  30. A wonderful post, with a great message. I admire your son’s attitude, and am sure he’s going to treasure the memories he gathered on that trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Wow. I am awestruck. What an amazing adventure for a young man who knows no boundaries. He has overcome so many challenges. I’m so happy that he approaches his life with so much positive energy and courage. It is infectious, both here, and with those folks who helped him make this trip such a success. Be proud…again and still, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What an inspiring young man! Love the photos, the courage and the absolute belief in humanity. You must be so proud of your son, Sue. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  33. dgkaye says:

    This gave me giant goosebumps Sue! Wow! Nick is unbelievable! Magnificent experience and guts! I can feel your pride! ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Erik says:

    My perspective was “panoramic” on this one, Sue. I saw many people in the picture, in and around Nick.

    Yes, this is a tribute to Nick! It occurred to me, however, that Nick didn’t accomplish all of this and take part in all of these wonders to be inspiring. That was just a byproduct. Nick does what he does because he has decided that there’s a whole lot of living yet to be done, and he’s going to be about it. So often, I think we look at certain historical figures and we quote them and look at them as sort of minor deities. But like Nick, they weren’t trying to be inspiring; they were just regular people like each of us, living life and making choices. The most inspiring thing about Nick is that we get to see someone making the continual choice to live fully. And that is always inspiring.

    I also see the individuals in India who helped him. And that is both timely and inspiring as well. These are trying times in the US, with those who would seek to isolate us from the larger world and convince Americans that “we” are good and “they” (anyone except Americans) are not. The more stories and pictures we can circulate to say “not so,” the better.

    And I’m also keenly aware that, as tenacious as Nick is, he didn’t come accidentally into that kind of resilience and belief that he can do whatever he sets his mind to. A mother’s influence can never be underestimated. I know that your measures of being thrilled and panicked are about equal; but you’ve instilled not only a sense that “you’ll make it through this” but “you’ll triumph over this.” You would never steal his thunder, but it’s good for you to know that you’ve done right by your children as you see their indomitable spirits.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Erik. That really is the point I was trying to make… the inspiration people draw from Nick and so many others who appear to do the impossible, is subjective. Nick and others like him are just ordinary folk making the same choice we can all make…to embrace life and the possibilities of the moment in which we find ourselves. For many, the results of such a choice may not be spectacuar or seem ‘article-worthy’… but they are and should be. It is only the backstory and the photographs that make one tale seem inspirational, when a million others are being quietly played out every day.

      The people Nick met in India were amazing… from the young man who carried him across sands his wheelchair could not manage in Goa, to the driver whose mother covered a poorly young man with a blanket in her home and bade him sleep… and the guy who helped Nick that first day and offered him hope and life.

      People, not just in India, mostly wish to help each other when they see a problem they can understand. Our western culture has tied our hands, though and we are too constricted by social mores and the fear of ‘doing the wrong thing’…we are not very good at offering or accepting help any more.

      Nick’s journey opened his eyes to another world, where kindness is the norm.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Beautiful and inspiring!


  36. What a story! What a son! A perfect lessson to for the rest of us at the start of a new year. Thank you for sharing it and some of the glorious photographs your son took – truly inspirational


  37. What an amazing person your son is! I loved reading about his travels and openness.


  38. tiramit says:

    Astride an elephant, at the end… wow! I’m so glad to find this post, great story and wonderful photos. Thanks…


  39. What incredible strength and amazing journey. So glad all worked out.


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