Travel broadens your horizons: A message from Drew Bessinger

Burg Lichtenstein Castle

September 10, 2023 – Many of us have limited time on our plates for travel, especially outside of our continent. We often say, “when I retire, I’m going to ___.”

Many of us may not have the resources or have family and work commitments. I lived in Germany for over 2 years when I was a soldier. I loved Germany and was able to make short trips inside the continent to Salzburg, London and Paris amongst other destinations.

After returning to the US in 1979, I set out on a career and raising my kids.  I wanted to go back, but time and monetary commitments made that unlikely.

In 2002, I had a heart attack, and it changed my outlook. I was always a person who would take on the big problems we faced at Clovis PD … I was a fixer. I began to say “no” to additional work, which surprised some folks.

Learning to say “no” is a very liberating experience.  You still say “yes” to the priority items in your personal and professional lives, but prioritizing your own life is a good thing. Managing your own time can permit you to make time for your family and for yourself.

My outlook changed. I went back to Germany in 2003 and attended an FBI conference in Slovenia.  We stayed with my German friends. We returned in 2004, and about 5 times over the next 10 years.

In 2008, I visited my father’s POW camp for the first time. I’ve been back 3 times to see the memorial to him in the museum there. I just returned from Germany (again) after joining our friends from Fresno and the Sister Cities Committee in Germany.

I’ve been searching for a sister-city for Clovis, and I may have found one: Bielefeld.  Bielefeld is to Munster as Clovis is to Fresno: Neighbors who get along swimmingly most of the time, but they compete for the same resources and opportunities.

I just sent a letter to the mayor, and I hope to hear back soon. I will then bring it to Council for discussion. During this trip, I saw first-hand how other cities handle their responsibilities, and we can learn from each other better methods to serve our citizens.

I even took my German friends to a castle just 2 hours south of them that they never knew existed: Burg Lichtenstein. I told them, with a smile, if they needed to know anything about Germany they should ask.

There are some important realities in travel. Air travel is exhausting and wrangling suitcases and trekking through large airports is daunting. Want to see the beautiful castle on top of the hill? You’ll need to walk the steep path. Cobblestone streets are difficult to negotiate if you have mobility problems. Language barriers can be frustrating and challenging.

However, the benefits of travel are worth the challenges, but you need to plan ahead. If you need some inspiration, look no further than our local PBS station and our own Jeff Aiello and his “Outside Beyond the Lens” series,  the winner of multiple Academy Awards.

To be fair, I am not a great example of time management in my retirement. After retiring from Clovis PD in 2009, I took on 5 police chief jobs over the next 12 years in addition to being elected to your Council 3 times.

I retired (almost) in 2021, and I have turned down 2 police chief jobs since. My point is travel while you can. Don’t wait until you have physical challenges that will take away from your enjoyment.

Making memories, memories you can share with friends and family, is the reward. Don’t wait until you have a health crisis to begin saying “no” to things. Even a 7-day trip, well planned, can expand your horizons.

Enjoy life while you are able to, and in your golden years, you have wonderful memories of your adventures.