After 100 days of traveling a lot has changed for me. My hair is long and messy and my feet are strong and covered in tough layers of skin from wearing minimal and sometimes no footwear. It’s like they have evolved into a natural pair of hikers with durable soles, which they were forced to do after leaving my only pair of shoes almost a month ago on a night train and never replaced them. My skin fluctuates from a sun drenched gold of a free spirited surf bum, to a chapped and battered canvas of bug bites, bruises and cuts like a soldier stuck in a trench. Even though these are all physical changes, the most apparent and profound changes are on the inside, in my heart, mind and soul.
There have been times when I would go almost a whole day without speaking, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t need to and actually would never really notice. The reason why I never noticed is because I would get lost in my thoughts, thinking about what I was seeing and describing the feeling to myself in my head. Evaluating where I am and what was happening, observing a new landscape and unfamiliar life happening in front of me. I compare it to being a new born baby, seeing everything for the first time, not being able to speak about it and just absorbing it like a sponge. To me it felt like I was constantly speaking, but I believe it was myself communicating with myself. At times it didn’t even feel like I was a part of this exchange, a third party at a table with old friends reconnecting, taking notes and enjoying the bond they once had and starting to regain. I remember one of these conversations in Turkey…
Body: Sea kayak to a remote beach? I don’t think I can do it today. I was up all night sick, and now am too sore and worn to go out.
Mind: Me too. I’m tired and can’t think, it’s better if we rest.
Heart: I understand, but we came all this way, what if it’s our only chance?
Soul: Do it for me. We will remember it forever.
There was also the time in Thailand…
Soul: Is this what I really need? Is bungee jumping going to satisfy me?
Heart: We’ve talked about this, it can be good for us, it’s facing fear!
Mind: This was a bad idea, it’s pretty high, and everyone is looking, we don’t have to prove-
Body: I’m going. You guys are coming too.
I feel like these four are starting to trust one another again, and can pick up one another when they are weak. The trick is if you can have just two of these crucial parts of your being communicating effectively, you find yourself leaving your comfort zone and that’s where you see gains that you would have normally never imagined possible in yourself. At times I find myself saying “nothing scares me anymore.”
In these one hundred days I realized I had accomplished a lot of the things I set out to do. Everyone has a bucket list, and I do as well. Things like swimming with sharks and travelling to every continent. However, before I left I made another list. A list of things I wanted to accomplish of a spiritual basis, such as living simply, surrounding myself with positivity, eliminating fear and creating memorable moments for myself and others.
During a bungee jump excursion with a group I was travelling with in Thailand, we were talking about getting hyped up for the jump. A couple of girls said that if they could jump to a certain song that it would be enough for them to step off the platform. I secretly made note of these songs, knowing I had both on my iPhone. When they got to the top I played the songs they said they wanted. We all jumped that day, and after the jumps we gathered around having a beer and described what was going through our heads before taking the step off the platform. They said that they were close to backing out until they heard the songs. That if it wasn’t for that song, they probably wouldn’t have jumped.
Eliminating fear. Check.
Creating moments for others and myself. Check.
I found this spiritual bond within myself again, you could say this was a “soul search” which can be translated in many ways.
It’s a personal soul search, trying to reconnect the body, mind, soul and heart to trust one another, and not lay blame if the other can’t carry their weight.
It’s also a search for souls that I most likely would have never crossed paths with if I didn’t take this leap of faith. The human soul that I shared a moment with in time, such as the bungee jump. It didn’t really matter about the duration of this connection, but the fact that it happened. It didn’t matter if it was for a few minutes sharing shisha in Aqaba, an hour playing cards in Olympos, a day exploring the streets of London, a week sailing the Croatian coast, or almost month touring southern Thailand.
It was about that connection in that moment.
It’s about the random barber next to my hostel in Istanbul that bought me a beer when he found out it was my birthday, or the waiter in Athens that quite possibly served me souvlaki at my favourite greek restaurant in Toronto. It’s about the two ladies in Munich that decided to share their table with us at Oktoberfest, or the little girl that hustled me in a rock-paper-scissors game on the streets of Bangkok.
You may never meet these people again, or you may meet them for a beer on another side of the world or run into them on your walk to work. Perhaps organize a trip later down the road of life and create more moments. I know one thing is for sure, that I will meet them from time to time in my memories and relive that magic moment.
It also gives me a deep sense of appreciation for the connections and friendships, past and present, that I have been fortunate enough to create and share moments with before this journey. The long standing friends and family, the relationships filled with love and laughter, and even the moments of heartbreak. My sports team on Wednesday nights, “Sunday-Fun-Day” barbecue with friends, or getting day hammered at Blue Jays games with, well, anyone. They were all the cause and motivation of this trip, and are what will draw me back. The push of knowing what you have at home is concrete and will still be there, and the pull of someone or something new that you have never experienced.
During these first 100 days of travel I learned a lot about myself and what I live for. I know that this can’t last forever and when it comes to an end I will embrace these people that were a part of a special time. I would have gone to the lengths I did a thousand times over knowing I would see, feel and realize the things I did while I’ve been away from home. I will go back to work and will work for the chance to create and be a part of these powerful experiences with random people, in random places again and again. That is what I live for, and all I live for are these magic moments.