Today I leave Dubai, in my journey westward from Asia toward my home in California. Still many exciting places to see, but this marker point of the embarkation day for the final cruise in this series has gotten me feeling reflective. I am closing out my five-months of non-stop travel that began in early December in Singapore and will end with a flight to San Diego from Athens in mid-May. I thought I would spend a little time today pondering what is more so, less so, and still the same about me.
First, let’s dispense with the physical.
I am definitely chubbier. Not a lot, but definitely. No scale to assess the precise damage. I still fit in all the clothes I brought, including the pants, but what was loose is now snug, and that 5% spandex in the fabric is probably disguising more than a little. They say people gain five to seven pounds on a typical cruise, so I guess I could have gained fifty or more just in the last five months! Near the beginning of these Years of Living Travelly I wrote about my diet rules, and so far, they are still working pretty well.
Likewise, I am definitely flabbier. Maybe my clothes fit, but I am definitely out of shape. I am really looking forward to getting back to my gym and tennis schedule. I just don’t like small hotel gyms, and basically the ship is a small(ish) hotel. I tell myself every cruise that at the least I could get down on the floor and do a hundred ab crunches every day, but do I do it? The percent of the time would be, if not absolute, at least statistical zero. The trouble with many Asian and Indian Ocen stops is that the cruise terminals are in industrial ports, which means you can’t just get off the ship and walk around, as you can do a majority of places in the Med, or Baltic, or Alaska. In those ports I easily walk 4-6 miles in a day. Here, hardly at all. Add to that the weather, which is so hot that even if you were to find a place to walk, it won’t be for very long unless you don’t value your brain cells. As the song goes, in this part of the world, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
Now on to the stuff that actually matters.
I am more present. I often can’t remember where I was a few days ago, but I do feel more present in the actual day. Every port provides such unique opportunities to see new things, form the sensory perceptions you can’t get from photos, and notice small details about places , people, and cultures. I pay attention in ways I often don’t do at home, and I like that. Maybe that is why people come back so refreshed from vacations, because this feeling of being only in the moment is such a powerful restorative.
I have written before about feeling more comfortable in my own skin than at any point in my life, but this feels especially true at this juncture. I have pushed my boundaries, said “okay” to possibilities I might have turned down before, tried new things, retried old things I hadn’t much liked, solved problems, struck out on my own for new adventures, and been successful at pretty much everything. Well, with the noticeable exception of trying a traditional dance in Bhutan (I am all left feet when it comes to anything that require specific, coordinated steps). But I did it, however badly, instead of saying no.
My moods most of the time generally run the gamut from happy to happier, but I can’t think of a time in my life that I have been happier than I am right now. There are things every day to say “wow!” about, and blessings beyond number in my life.
And finally, remember the line from Alice in Wonderland about things getting “curiouser and curiouser?” Well that applies to how I feel as well. This beautiful opportunity has raised what was always a pretty healthy amount of curiosity to even greater heights. No, I am nowhere near having seen enough. Life grows in beauty and abundance and I want it all!