This week, as I prepare myself to go back home, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this trip and what it has meant to me.

There are two people whose words before this trip have stayed with me, and who I am especially reminded of as I reflect upon these past months. The first is an old friend who, upon hearing that I was going to be traveling for 5 months abroad, told me to read about the philosopher Seneca, one of whose dialogues reflects on the shortness of life, but how any amount of time is sufficient if you live it wisely. My friend told me that he wished he had traveled before he had started his professional career, before he felt that it was no longer an easy option, and that he was happy that I was taking advantage of the time.

The other words I remember well were those that came in the form of a letter from a client of mine before I left. He had told me that he felt that I had a great deal of good to do in the world, and that it was a relief to know that there were people out there who had a good grasp of the world, who knew right and wrong, and who don’t settle for what the world thinks they should do.

I’m not pretending that I’m an example of what these people were saying, and I’m about the last person who wants to sound preachy. But they are certainly good things to work towards to in my mind. I’ve tended to steer myself on the course that I believed the people around me thought was the “right” one. Get good grades in high school, participate in extracurriculars, go to college, start a career. But I’ve always found myself deviating from the path – transferring schools, taking a year off after high school to travel and work, finding myself bored with college and not always fitting into it’s social life, delaying a move into a career-oriented life… But what I’ve found is that all this stuff – the “right” and socially acceptable stuff – usually does not make me happy, and therefore it doesn’t matter much in the greater scheme of things.

For me it’s moving. Traveling. Seeing new things and people and places. Maybe I have a short attention span. But in all honesty I think it has just become a part of who I am over the years. (Thanks to my Mom for dragging me around the world since I was a babe) But a piece of advice – and this is for myself just as much as anyone reading. Don’t wait for the things you want to do until it is too late. Don’t think too much about what will or will not happen with your job, your friends, your family. I’m a firm believer that things have a way of working themselves out (as cliché as it sounds). But above all – Explore. Do the things you’ve always wanted, or maybe didn’t think you wanted. Watch a picture perfect sunset in a place you’ve never been. Rest your head on the pulsating stomach of a tiger. Touch the trunk of an Asian elephant, who’s most likely experienced and learned more about life than you have. Go diving with the chance to see anything from a sea turtle to a white-tipped reef shark to a giant Mola mola. Learn a new language.

So I guess what I’m saying is – life is short but it does not have to be restricting, as Seneca said, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in the little time I have. In some small way, I hope in the past 5 months I’ve lived up to my client’s words, and continue to do so throughout my life. And I hope to impart a little bit of my knowledge along the way.

beach paradise, southern Lombok.

Fair winds and following seas.

 

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