Location: Palma, Mallorca, Spain
Today, it hit me. Not in the way seen at a baseball game where the batter knows with near certainty that the pitcher will soon deliver a ball hurtling towards him. I didn’t see it coming. Even a curveball would have been a gift, for even though its path changes, I still would have been aware of its foreboding presence. But no, this sudden realization that my perception of the world as I left it had been manipulated hit me on the left side of my head, right above the ear, today as I was sitting in a quaint cafe’ in Palma. John Steinbeck once said: “There is a change that takes place in a man or woman in transit. You see this at its most exaggerated on a ship when whole personalities change.” How can this be? I woke up this morning as I have for the past few thousand mornings feeling remarkably similar to how I felt the night before. But today, I realized I’ve changed. Sitting in that cafe’ surrounded by foreigners (even though everyone present knew I was the actual foreigner), I realized the path we have been on over the course of this voyage had given us unfiltered, firsthand encounters with the world. The world is the way it is, not the way we previously imagined it. With an abundance of optimism, we threw ourselves into this whirlwind adventure. We hoped to eventually run up the banks of the far shore, look back on the mighty “river” that so eloquently depicts our journey with each wave crest and trough, eddy and waterfall, and exclaim: “Hazah! Look at my past self and look at my present self and see how vastly different they are!” But this day never came, nor, in hindsight, should we have been expecting it to. We have each experienced magical moments that have changed us in often minute ways. These are hidden deep in our subconscious and will only make themselves present once we have returned home. Then, while sharing coffee and stories with our friends at a quiet cafe in our hometowns, something will catch our eye. It may be an action, or perhaps a conversation overheard, but that something will remind us of the lessons we have learned, the places we have seen, and the dialogues we have shared while on Argo. That something will ignite the spark that fuels the flame of what travel is truly all about. Travel at its core outgrows its motives. It soon proves insufficient in itself. You think you are making a trip, but somewhere along the way, you realize the trip is making you, and then, without notice, it begins unmaking you. When sitting in the same cafe you sat in months before, everything will seem different, no longer black-and-white or two-dimensional. Having sailed across an ocean, you realize the world is, in fact, composed of three dimensions and a nearly unending pallet of colors. -And alas, you will be an outsider gazing into the world as you left it, for your world has forever been changed.