My first few weeks on land after two plus years of traveling and being on the ocean, I could have collapsed into the ground at the airport, like they do in movies and kissed the ground.
I was tired. Exhausted. Fully exerted and questioning my life, my beliefs, my direction and my plan.
I had a bit of savings left. I had suffered through two broken relationships and somewhat exploited labor.
I don't know if words will ever be sufficient enough to describe how I felt.
I rushed to find a job immediately and unsuccessfully.
Here I was back in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
I had these visions of the streets of Nicaragua and people peeling mangoes to try to make one US dollar. Their hands riddled with cuts, the heat beating down on their brow. I felt rich with five dollars when I looked at them. The blind beggars. The homelesss doubled over with paralyzing arthritis.
It broke my heart.
I tried to be present when traveling. I tried to understand the lessons life was dealing me.
And I would jet back to America and be so confused.
I wrote a bit about this experience here a few years ago, after I left Alaska and went straight to a large city:
It seems as if one moment ago I was playing Bon Iver on the boat,
as we entered the coolness of another dimension known as Alaska.
The smell of rosemary was everywhere
and I was outside just inhaling the sweet
fresh winteresque air into my blood stream.
Everything was serene,
the water a giant piece of silvered mirror.
We all just looked at each other with this gaze of disbelief, peace and sheer happiness.
Alaska wrapping us all up under it’s snow blanked mountains
and I felt a deep shift within me feel at home.
Fast forward to a security airport line pat down.
And again to an airplane full of manicured nailed business people,
talking over the captain who is greeting everyone in a defeated tone.
I’m rushed backed into piles of concrete and pollution.
Where people are in a hurry
and have an autopilot hurried walk where they rush past suffering people.
No one looks at what’s left of the trees or grass
as they push past each other to get into another chained juice store
or commercial coffee shop.
But I know this life as well.
Rewind to my foot crunching underneath salty rocks and abalone shells,
as a tribe of sepia skinned people show us what’s left of them
with a heavy heart and tears layered deep under their courageous hearts.
Fast forward to trying to figure out the subway again as people slam into me.
Rewind to a showering of lime green against the stars at 2am.
One of the guys I work with said
“You know, after the boat,
everyone complains about going back to the “real world.”
Which one do you think is the real world now that you’ve seen both?”
So now what?
What does one do now?
At a standstill, I went back to the boat again.
I wanted to be back on the ocean.
I actually went hiking and exploring.
However the boat didn't feel like home anymore.
Not like it used to.
I knew I had changed.
I left. Again.
I am back to land.
I read books.
Finally. I have time to read.
I write. I visit with friends.
I got back into volunteering.
I send letters. I listen to people talk over coffee.
But now what I still wonder?
I don't have a clear answer. But I'm present. And feel exactly where I'm supposed to be.
"And Now I"m Changed. And now I'm stronger."