I learned from a sightless eighty-two-year-old man on the top of the Great Wall of China that the biggest adventure in life is to follow our dreams!
For the past seven years, I have been a tour director for people traveling to China. In a recent group, one of the participants was a blind man, Primo Foianni. He walked all over Salt Lake City for years, selling brooms to raise money for the blind.
At the orientation to meet the new travelers, I became very concerned. This group was the largest I had ever led, with forty-six participants. Would I be able to care for them all, including Primo and his wife, Marcelle, who were both in their eighties?
Primo and Marcelle arrived in China the day before we were to climb China’s Great Wall. I always stay at the bottom of the Great Wall with those who can’t climb steep steps. I wait with those who aren’t planning to climb because my right knee lacks cartilage, and I don’t climb stairs well. So I was all set to sit with them and enjoy a few hours of rest and relaxation at the base of the Wall while the others climbed. “Primo, would you and Marcelle like to come over here and sit down for a few hours?” I asked. Primo replied, “Oh, no, we came to climb the Great Wall!” Astonished at his reply, I shook in amazement and panic. They couldn’t go up alone and were definitely at risk of falling. However, I wanted to ensure they would be safe, so I followed them as they ascended the irregular steps. Before I knew it, they were well on their way up.
So, we were off and climbing the steep stairs along with Primo and Marcelle. Every once in a while, as we would stop to rest, I asked Primo, “How far do you want to go?” “I want to go to the top. You know, there was a blind man who climbed Mount Everest,” he told me. I swallowed hard, and we continued. As we neared the third tower, which is well over two-thirds of the way up this particular section of the Wall, you would have thought I was accompanying two rock stars. Tourists from everywhere noticed Primo’s white cane and offered him encouraging words and accolades. They took photos of him and his wife as they climbed.
In all my visits to the Wall, this was the highest I had ever climbed. There were a few tears of joy as the three of us reached the third tower. That day I learned that the most fantastic adventure ever is to follow your dreams.