Open your eyes and the world surrounds you. The ground beneath your feet feels big, but you know you are small. The weight on your back goes unnoticed and the wear in your clothes is forgiven.
The nemonic devices for greetings in foreign languages blend together so you rely on a smile and good vibes.
The air is thick and you are aware of its presence the way a dog is of its tail. The clouds grumble above you but you are unaffected by their threats because you are open to change. The shoes on your feet bare holes but you aren’t bothered by appearances. You walk with confidence and the ease of someone who has nothing to lose but everything to gain.
You are on a crowded street and a dimly lit cafe calls to you. The menu flaunts fancy words for foreign dishes. You choose randomly because you know you will find satisfaction in the mystery alone. You splurge on dessert, knowing it always tastes better when you can’t pronounce the name. You indulge in the array of flavors blending on your pallet as you tune into the beautifully spoken gibberish at the tables around you.
You blink and the scenery changes abruptly. The cheers of drunk football fans echo off alley walls and vibrate through the air. You soak in the ambience of hope and bask in the excitement of the strangers surrounding you. You climb the cobblestone pathways sharing the space of those who lived centuries before. The sun sets behind the rolling green mountains and the gleaming lights of the house covered hills radiate in the dark sky. Above it all, a giant Christ is illuminated towering over the specs of life below. Your day concludes with a nightcap sipping on pisco sours and alcohol induced salsa steps, while you dance yourself to sleep.
You awake in a new land full of vibrant colored flora and fauna. The birds perch on treetops above and the morning dew coats the canopy in a moist blanket. The insects harmonize in the tall grass and the forest floor is alive with a tropical symphony. Monkeys swing from the trees unfazed by your curiosity. The flash of your camera momentarily blinds you as you try to capture it all on film.
Your vision slowly returns and you feel the waves hit your face as you glide through the angry rapids of the Nile river. You squeeze your paddle tightly ready for what’s to come. But nothing prepares you for the moment you flip and are submerged under the weight of the water. You curl into a ball and hold your breath until you float to the surface.
You emerge gasping for air and wiping your eyes to discover you are swimming in the Pacific. Your snorkel fills with water as you find your bearings. You clear the inside of your goggles to get a view of the dolphins playing around you, just in time to catch one leap over you and submerge itself again.
You inhale deeply and dive under maneuvering through the colorful coral. The reef is alive with exotic fish and dancing plants. Something ominous catches your eye in the distance and you glimpse the tail end of a shark.
You close your eyes tightly as the boat plunges into the waves. You open them and you are safe, with a life vest wrapped securely around you. You pass several lush islands floating in the lake and you spot a crocodile lurking in the grass. The warmth and moisture in the air coat you as your hair flows freely in the wind. A snort in the distance grabs your attention and you make eye contact with a hippo peaking out of the shallow water on the shoreline.
You open your eyes and the cool air hits like thousands of sharp knives, but you are on solid ground again. You scan the horizon and the icebergs bobbing in the waves give you the chills as you try to soak in the vivid colors of the snow capped peaks contrasting with the sky. The sun reflects off the mountain of glacial ice. You tighten your gloves to capture the warmth of your body as you hear a dull roar in the distance.
You open them once more in time to witness chunks of ice and rock tumbling down the steep cliffs gaining momentum as they fall. You watch as they shatter down the mountain, reshaping the path. The debris settles and you carry on looking down at your hiking boots covered in slush. The terrain changes as you lose count of your steps and look up for the first time at the ancient ruins scattered around you.
You open your eyes wider and capture the bliss of where you are and where you’ve been. You allow your body to relax and focus in on the moment you have created. Your mind filters through the useless and superficial until it is free of clutter and only holds the image of what rests in front of you. You sit amongst llamas and stones carved by Incans lifetimes before your world. Yet you feel their presence, you hear the sound of rock being chiseled, and you inhale under the same sky.
You have been awed by the constellations amongst every terrain, you’ve experienced cultures in remote regions and found a home in each pocket of the world you have ventured, you’ve swapped stories through pictures with people who don’t share your language, and you have changed. You left pieces of yourself in each corner of the earth like a breadcrumb trail patiently awaiting your return. Your heart has simultaneously grown and shrunk with every hello and farewell. You are no longer satisfied with discovering wonders through catalogues and photos. You crave the action and live for the adventure waiting behind every moment. You are half full of satisfaction from people and places you have known, and half empty with those left undiscovered. You long to have it all at once… each smile exchanged with a stranger and each laugh shared with new friends, each sunset unique in color and emotion, the thin air of each mountain top filling your lungs, the butterflies you receive holding your freshly stamped passport, the peace that overcomes you as the scenery begins to take shape outside the small oval window of the plane, and the light peaking through your eyelids as you wake in a new and unfamiliar land with infinite possibilities. Open your eyes.