The time has finally come for me to end things with long-term travel. We’ve had a good run, this nomadic lifestyle and I. But now after almost nine months, I’m making some changes and moving on to a different way of life. I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been difficult-even horrible-at times over the last few weeks. Breaking up is hard to do.
Initially, comparing my current existence to my recent past made me feel like I was dating a guy who’s ex looked like a supermodel; occasionally feelings of insecurity or inferiority worked their way into my mentality. Really though, it’s a pretty hard past to ignore or dismiss. I have spent the last nine months learning to surf off the coast of New Zealand, chasing kangaroos through sun-soaked vineyards in the Australian Outback, swimming with giant sea turtles and weary sharks in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. I fell in love in and with Bali, the country where I participated in a ceremony under the stars at the holiest temple before climbing 6 hours to watch the sun rise over its highest mountain. Bali, the country where I lazed about by turquoise waters, drinking my body weight in fresh fruit juice and Bintang, where every minute inspired a smile bigger than the last.
I spent the past nine months doing things like getting three-dollar massages, taking cooking classes, meditating with monks and getting lost in dense jungle after finding hidden waterfalls in Thailand. I have trained elephants and trekked to remote villages where I lived, slept, drank, and bathed in an ice-cold stream with a tribe in northern Laos. I have experienced the complete chaos of Hanoi, sailed through a thunderstorm in Halong Bay, and walked through the Hanoi Hilton where American POW’s were tortured during the Vietnam War. My nomadic lifestyle allowed me to eat fresh papaya and befriend the locals on an island paradise in Malaysia, to experience authentic hot chocolate and churros while watching the running of the bulls in a small Spanish village outside of Madrid. It let me spend 35 days walking 800 kms across Spain with my mom and sister, and drink a bottle of champagne with my best friend on a hill in the center of Barcelona. I have made friendships to last a lifetime, seen and done things that changed my entire outlook and perspective, and experienced a period in my life that, at times, doesn’t even seem real.
I think it’s easy to see why, even though I haven’t returned home to the States and am still technically traveling, the abruptness of being stationary and having to return to a life that is a bit more conventional has been an…interesting transition for me. Even if I am in Norway, even if I am making new friends and building new relationships, even if I do have a new language to learn and a new life to love. To be honest, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been having a hard time moving on. Like typical post breakup behavior, I’d find myself lost in memories, sadly reminiscing about all of the good times while looking through pictures, reading with jealousy how friends I’d met along the way were still traveling to exotic places. Then, just when my wallowing was getting to a point of shamefulness, someone awesome reminded me that what I’m doing now is an adventure all in itself. Simple words for a simple truth, but it’s all I needed to hear to start the wheels turning. When you hold on to the past, all you’re really doing is holding yourself back. It’s hard to discredit the immense importance of letting go and opening your mind and heart to what’s around you, a fact which we all forget at times. Every experience has the opportunity to become an adventure…whether it’s great or a great disappointment is for you to decide. Your perception is your reality. Ultreia!