When I disembarked I had to say goodbye to a lifestyle. Each day I had the privilege of being a short walk away from one of the most beautiful sights and peaceful experiences. There is something remarkable about viewing the ocean from the middle of the ocean. There are no buildings to obstruct your line of sight. There is no sand. You don’t need binoculars. You are right there. On the water, part of it. When it sways you sway. More importantly, if it’s still, you are still.
I don’t know what’s in my future. I don’t know what my next year looks like. All I know is that I’ve learned. I’ve grown. I’ve seen. I’ve felt. I’ve tasted. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve laughed some more.
It was an impressive journey. It was fascinating to be at the mosque in Morocco during the call to prayer. Speaking to the young artist in Ghana as he proudly showed me his artwork inspired me to have a more youthful pride about my gift. Climbing Lion’s Head Mountain in South Africa taught me the benefits associated with completing a challenge. Relaxing on the beautiful beach of Mauritius with beautiful company reminded me of the importance of comfortable silence.
The complexities of India illustrated that I can and should accept my own complexities. Listening to a cover band in Malaysia showed me the impact that music has on creating a common experience across cultures. Learning to cross the busy streets of Vietnam illustrated that I cannot take for granted even the most basic life lessons. Standing on the Great Wall of China reminded me of the strength and fortitude we all have within us. Being personally escorted to a train by a friend’s mother in Japan showed me kindness in its most genuine form. Feeling the uncomfortably hot, dark sand under my feet on a Costa Rican beach allowed me to experience nature’s power. Sitting in a kayak off of an island in Honduras being soaked by a downpour prompted me to think of the humor that exists when we step outside of our usual.
All of these lessons are important and will remain with me. However, one of the most influential experiences didn’t occur in some exotic location. The time on the ship was just as valuable as the time I spent exploring off the ship. When I got off the ship in Florida I also had to say goodbye to people who were a part of my every day for a significant part of my life. Due to the extreme situations we faced our time together felt a lot longer than what the calendar revealed. When you are separated from all of your comforts and thrown into intense travel experiences that four month block of time expands into much more.
What was my favorite place? The place where I felt safe and secure enough to be vulnerable. What was my most memorable moment? Each moment that I trusted those around me enough to be authentic. You may think that place of safety and security or moments of trust should occur often, but on day one we were introduced as strangers. On day one we didn’t know one another’s names, let alone who would be welcome in or deserving of that space. On day one we set out to see the world, but we ended up seeing one other. By day 110, I’d developed safety, security, and trust with some amazing people, and that alone was well worth traveling around the world for.