Happy Anniversary to me. Happy Anniversary to me. Happy anniversary dear Traveling Brandy.
Today my flight leaves from Madrid to Bangkok, Thailand where I will begin a journey around South East Asia working as a professional traveler. Wow. Coincidentally, it´s also been 5 years to the day since I took off on my Round The World trip from California. My, how things have changed. Allow me this blog post to reminisce and join me if you feel like hearing about the ride that is my life.
Five years ago I stood in the San Francisco International Airport with a one-way ticket to Athens, Greece, a 13 kilo backpack at my feet, and my eyes on the departure board. I didn’t pack much more than my panties and passport but it was all I needed. With that trip my life changed; I learned how to come alive
, but that was not the only thing I learned.
I learned that sometimes you have to close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and listen only to the thumping in your chest. Deep down, you know the answers you´re after.
I learned that I am much more comfortable hopping on a bus of strangers to spend 40 hours of rough transportation to a new place than I am committing to 40 hours of routine work per week, even if it is in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I learned that while it can be painful to be away from ¨home¨ for so long, that I am like a starfish; when that part of me is lost, I simply regrow it. I have regrown homes in over 25 countries around the world and have loved people more deeply upon meeting them than those I learned to walk with.
I learned that I am never done learning. The world is a great teacher, and she will constantly remind you that knowledge is infinite and we are mere ants clinging to her.
I learned that I am a closet writer. I never knew the word for it: someone who scribbles and hoards their own thoughts relentlessly. Yes, I have written over 4 first draft novels, two feature length screenplays, a first draft of a sit-com season, and a million other words that fall into the category of journaling. I love these words and once they´re done I seal them up, forget about them and move onto my next project. I´m torn on how to proceed, and this bring me to my next point.
I learned that I don´t know as much about anything as I thought I did. Humility is my constant companion on the road and knowledge is the only cure. Everyone has something to teach us but only the wise will learn; I struggle to gain wisdom.
When visiting a distant temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia I was approached by a small girl of roughly 5 years of age who tried to sell me a postcard in English, Spanish, Greek, French, German, Italian….she just kept going! I asked her how many languages she spoke and she counted out 10. There is no limit to our capacity for knowledge and no excuses not to educate ourselves, if a 5 year old girl can master sales pitches in 10 languages, I can also improve myself.
I learned to ask for help. This one is far down on the list because I still struggle (deeply) with this. Growing up, I was always advanced, independent, and capable. Sometimes, I still feel that way, which makes it hard for me to see myself objectively. I continue to learn there is no victory in pride and that help from the right hands is invaluable. So many people have reached out their hands in companionship, the spirit of kindness, and as colleagues without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I have learned to appreciate, immensely. From the sound of fresh coffee bubbling up (note: not dripping down) each morning to hot water (or any water at all) coming from my showerhead, I am grateful. The people I have met on this journey mean everything to me, and even though I had to search the world for them, they hold my heart. My Global Family: I love you.
I have learned to thank, profusely. There are a few people I´d like to mention here because they have been instrumental in getting myself and my site to this point.
Thank you, Enda
for your endless help with the website and your tolerance of my terrible jokes.
Thank you Alma
for the countless hours of assistance.
Thank you Alex
for your friendship and support.
Thank you Amar
for lending me your business brain and resources.
Thank you Talon
for all the opportunities.
Thank you Diana
for being my cheerleader and partner in crime around the world.
Thank you Amy Gigi Alexander
, for the listening ear and encouragement to stop hiding.
for following along and giving me your precious time.
I have learned to be more conscious of my surroundings. Part of this is due to the fact that I am taking travel writing seriously now and need to absorb every detail of a place so I can wring it out of myself to bring to you.
Truly, when I sip a flute of Champagne on a sidewalk terrace in Paris, I immerse myself fully into the experience. Every bubble rises under my eyes like a string of pearls and I scribble in my notepad the slightest notes of candied Meyer lemon peels to bring them to you. This submersion into my senses leaves me feeling that I have lived every day more vividly than the last.
I have learned to love and be loved. Thank you, Madalin, for everything you do to support me and encourage me.
I have learned that the world is much like a jigsaw puzzle. Just because I have seen a lot of the pieces doesn’t mean that I understand the whole image yet, but I am trying to put it together.
So, today – 5 years to the day – I am boarding another flight to find more lessons to learn, foods to eat, places to lay my head and strangers who are waiting to become friends. This time, I will be sharing much more than ever before with you.
What has travel taught you? Here are some of my favorite answers from travelers all over the world but please, leave a comment and let me know what you’ve learned from your travels.