...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, October 12, 2015

From The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?



Earlier today, I sat on a plane bound for Iceland. Captain Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone around the World” lay on my lap, a memoir of the first solo circumnavigation of the world. As far as I had reached in the memoir, Slocum was now in South America, trying to ward away pirates and anchoring in uninhabited shores to collect firewood for the Spray. As I imagined the voyage of the Spray and Slocum’s adventures, I just had to look out the window to my own little journey.

Below me was a thick sheet of cloud – a whole world away from the waves and the rolling sea of the Atlantic, across which Slocum had just sailed. Like the sea, the sheet of cloud also seemed featureless; yet its contours created its own strange landscape. From time to time, there were bumpy elevations that looked like cloud mountains on cloud valleys. When the cloud opened up to reveal the sea below, it resembled lakes in the sky. The clouds dispersed even more, and the cloud mainland broke up into a cloud archipelago. 

As we started descent by the coast of Iceland, the clouds were scarce enough to reveal an outline of a coast, and then something large, dark, jagged and snow-covered: A glacier! My thoughts were slowly taking me back to land.

As a young girl in high school and when we first got cable TV, I used to tune into the Travel Channel or Discovery and watched about destinations that I had only dreamed of going to. “Globetrekker” was a favorite. Europe seemed very far away, so foreign yet so intriguing and full of different cultures, food and buildings. I only saw pictures in books otherwise, or in my sister’s Lufthansa training CD (She worked back then in ticket sales) where one could learn to memorize airport codes. Going back even further, back in grade school, air travel was an expensive luxury that only very rich families could afford. The only frequently traveling relative we had in the family was a missionary nun, a cousin of my grandmother. She told me interesting stories of how the horizons looked differently, as seen from a plane entering to the night / day side of the earth. (OK, we had some relatives that frequently visited Disneyland too, but that wasn’t quite as interesting for me, even then!)

If I could tell Younger me that she would end up travelling to different countries at 31, she would probably be so glad, almost not believing her ears. That thought made me realize what a privilege things really are, that if unappreciated, would seem normalized and quite “usual”. Like: You’re flying to Iceland, for goodness’ sake! No matter if it’s for the job – you’re actually here! I felt gratefulness for the things I have, for the people in my life, and to how life turned out to be, the good and the bad.


Quoting my college classmate Carlo on his 32nd birthday some weeks ago, “When I look at myself as 32 and compare it with how I thought things would be, I think: Life’s not too shabby!”

2 Comments:

Blogger Blog of Ice said...

I have read your blog for several years now but do not think i have commented before. As a young boy I also dreamed of traveling the world but never thought it would be possible (I thought only the extremely rich or people who worked for an airline could do it). Now I live half a globe away from where I am born and have seen my fair share of countries (still many that I would love to visit). I think, also that if I could go back 24 years and tell younger self this news I would be excited out of my skin! Thanks for reminding me of how lucky I am.

9:37 AM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

Wow thanks for your lovely comment! Indeed, this entry reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend. She said that the meaning of life is to give life meaning. I'm inclined to agree, but for some good minutes I thought about writing that, the meaning of life is greatfulness for life. Thanks for writing - and for following the blog! :-D

7:58 PM

 

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