I’ve been sitting on this blog for a few weeks, because I couldn’t — still can’t, really — put my thoughts into a proper order and fully express what’s in my head. We’ll try anyway:
Remember my friend Scott, from college? The one who founded the wonderful experience that was Saga Fest? I mentioned him a few times in my blog about Iceland.
Anyway, when we met up in San Francisco before my trip began, I told Scott about my planned journey. Where most people heard me out and then peppered me with excited follow-up questions, Scott just smiled. Then, he boldly claimed: “I have a feeling you’re going to fall in love on this trip.”
Well, Scott was right.
I did fall in love. Many times over, in fact.
I fell in love with the Australian vibe in Melbourne and the self-sufficiency of a Tasmanian camper van trip.
I fell in love with the friendly, honest locals in the Philippines. I fell in love with the food, culture and nature in Penang, Malaysia.
There were the bustling streets of London, followed by indescribable natural beauty in Iceland. There were kind, beautiful Danish, Swedish and Norwegian folks in Scandinavia. The canals and windmills of Amsterdam. The never-ending sunshine, tapas and sangria in Spain. Incredible sculptures, architecture and history all over Europe.
Madly in love with all of the above.
I fell in love with the Moroccan people and their culture…again. I fell in love with the mountains of Ariège and the beaches of Normandy in France. Unexpected gems like Slovenia and Poland tore my heart open. Returning to Dubrovnik dropped me right back into that deep relationship. And I fell head over heels for a place called Prague.
But it doesn’t end there.
All the cities and beaches and mountains and lakes and sunny days I’ve enjoyed over the last 24 weeks were beautiful. The scores of people from places as familiar as North America, as exotic as Brazil and as obscure as Iraq and Kosovo have made this trip unforgettable and saying goodbye unbearably difficult. The experiences — from snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef to hiking in Morocco to clubbing in Budapest — are the things that make my heart twitch fondly.
I’ve fallen in love with it all. And that’s the crazy thing about what Scott said to me all those months ago. He was so sure about it, and that’s because this trip has finally helped me get to a point of simple realization. A point I believe Scott reached a long time ago, and has raved about multiple times since:
The world is a beautiful place. The people in it are beautiful. The lives we lead, in cooperation with one another, are beautiful.
There is so much untapped potential within every single person in the world to do basic things like love, learn and laugh. We may spend most of our moments behind a desk, in front of a TV or under a melancholic cloud, but it’s not intended to be this way.
Traveling over the past five and a half months has not only helped open my eyes to the wonders of the world and everything that goes with them, but to something deeper. The fact that we get to live in an amazing place with billions of incredible humans, all capable of accomplishing amazing things like making music and art, actively improving physical, social and spiritual aspects of the world, and your basic thoughtful, friendly discourse.
That’s what I’ve fallen in love with – the realization and constant reminder that we’ve all been given a one-time (literally) opportunity to love, make an impact and have a damn good time doing it.
Money is not as important as I once thought. Neither is having a typical job. Or winning the online message board battles with other avatars. Hell, “winning” in general makes this list.
Waking up every morning and completing a day in which you are proud of what you’ve accomplished is all that matters. Feeling good and spreading those vibes to others is all that matters. Cultivating and growing positive relationships is all that matters.
ALL that matters.
And I think when a group of people comes together with a similar philosophy (i.e. Saga Fest) and makes the absolute most of an opportunity and an experience is when progress is made and the deepest love for humanity and the world is felt.
Spending time doing anything besides what you desire, enjoy and find intriguing, in my humble opinion, is utterly pointless. Not exploring the people and places around us would be a damn tragedy. Sitting back and failing to take advantage of the limited amount of time we all have to live, love and prosper is, in a word, foolish.
So, yeah. Scott nailed it. I did fall in love on this trip. In an epiphanic sort of way. And I have him, hundreds of others, and a couple dozen new countries to thank for it.
Does any of that make sense? That’s okay – it doesn’t really have to.
Falling in love isn’t supposed to make sense anyway, right?