The Final Stretch

Reflecting in Casablanca

Now eight months into this journey, I’ve started doing a good deal of reflection: what has happened so far, where I’ve been and what it’s meant to me – and will mean to me in the future; what I’ve learned and how it’s changed me.

I remember meeting people in Auckland, telling them I’m three days into my trip around the world.

I think about Fraser Island and the A-Team; the undercover trip to Hawaii and San Francisco; the time with my cousin Brian; driving around with Kishore and Michelle and Firhana and Eugene in Malaysia, and the Palencia family; Lane and April Perry and the Gap Fillers, Dwayne Groves, Florence and even Dennis. I go back to conversations with Callum in Sydney and my friends at the Lucky Lake lounge. I think about Milford Sound and geographical time; India and Vietnam; Ishinomaki and Poland and Morocco. 

It took me six months to really start getting it. There is no doubt I’ve enjoyed the adventure all the way, even despite some downers and challenges and rough times. But I hadn’t really starting getting IT.

There were times early on when I thought to myself that this really isn’t that big of a deal, that ok, I’m traveling around the world but it’s really nothing extraordinary,   sometimes even asking myself what the hell am I doing here. Why am I doing this?

There have been plenty of other moments when I’ve stopped and thought, holy shit, I’m actually here, right now, in this place. Wow! Is this really happening?

Since the beginning I’ve always thought about how long it will be until I get home, a countdown of sorts. I’ve always missed home: my family and friends, my Sigma Nu alumni brothers, my old job and my second family back in Lexington; playing sports and watching my favorite teams; my car and being able to get in and drive wherever I need to go; Red Wave tacos and my other favorite foods. I really miss my house, and my roommates, and having friends over, and cooking, and going to Friday’s. I miss my life.

Even so, I can’t say that I’ve ever been home-sick. Like, “oh man, I wish I was just back home.” It’s never been that way.

I’ve also been concerned often. Where am I going next, how am I getting there, who am I meeting, where am I going to sleep, how am I going to eat, what am I going to do when I get there. What am I going to do right NOW? And not least of all, what am I going to do when I get back? There has been stress and anxiety along the way.

Most of these things are still on my mind. However, over the last two months or so, this journey has come more into focus. Today, I’m much more at peace. I still think often about the future and the past, but I’ve been living much more in the present. The now.

Jurgen shared with me, “your only job in life is to live.”

I’ve enjoyed life tremendously over the past eight weeks, soaking it in, seeing and feeling more around me than ever before, maybe just knowing myself a little better. My perception of each day has changed. I’ve still been concerned about those things, but somehow I’ve had a better grasp of it all, a sense that it’s going to fall into place, and that whatever happens, I am in control.

After all, Chris Guillebeau says, “most of the time, everything is going to be alright,” and he’s right.

Now, today, I’m really init. This is my time.

New Delhi, India

Over the past two months I’ve stayed in a hostel or guest house perhaps eight or ten nights out of 60; the rest of the time staying with friends and locals and great people, and those connections have no doubt been a big part of it. Also, life in Europe is a lot easier than many other places, albeit much more expensive.

But these past two months have changed how I feel about this journey, and myself.

I have changed and grown. I knew that I would be a changed person, but I wasn’t sure how it would all go down; if I would see or feel the change happening, if I would recognize the changes in myself, if it would be gradual or if I would just get home and suddenly be different.

On occasion I’ve gone back and watched the original launch video.

Not only can I barely recognize the face of the person in the video; I almost can’t remember the person I was then. What I mean by that is the experiences, the people and places, the adventures and mishaps, the things I’ve seen and that have happened over eight months have changed and shaped me. Now that these things are all in my mind and memory and a part of me, I can’t seem to recall how I was or thought back then, before all of this.

This I know: I’ll never be the same again. I can never go back, neither to my previous life nor to the person I was before.

That’s not to say I wasn’t a good enough guy before, or there was anything “wrong” with me or I was an asshole or something (debatable by some no doubt). And certainly not to say that I’m no longer Chris Healy. No, I am definitely still me. Just different.

Maybe these are some of the ways I’ve changed. I’m more compassionate. I’m more humble. I listen more and speak less (I still speak a lot).

I understand that people live in different ways than we do; while it’s our life and our country and our way, it’s only one of many ways and many places.

I’m more flexible. I don’t always have to have it a certain way. Lots of ways are ok.

My comfort zone is vastly expanded. I can handle more than I may have thought before.

I know myself better. I know better what is going on in my mind – maybe only slightly better, but I’m more aware of that now.

I’ve changed physically; I look different; I’m stronger, leaner and more muscular. With my few clothes and only two precious ball caps, I look just about the same every day. Which may often resemble a vagabond.

I’ve realized that there is so much out there I have not a clue about. “The more I learn the less I know.” – Socrates or Lao-Tse, depending on how you translate it.

And, I know more people and have seen more places and done more things. Those things just change you.

There is probably more, but those are some of the things I’ve noticed.

***

Austria

I do miss home. On one hand, I could go home now. I could see myself back home. However, I remember this: there will surely be more travels, more adventures, more connections and tales and triumphs; but I know that this is the adventure of my lifetime. There will be others, but it will never be the same again.

So before being too eager to get home, I’ll pause; I’ll be patient; I’ll live in the moment. I’ll breathe it all in, reflect often, embrace the present and be thankful for every day that changes my life and shapes who I am.

Because once it’s over…it’s over.

Our world is one with vast and endless opportunities. In all, I’ve seen very little; met very few; scarcely understood the things around me of which I’ve caught only fleeting glimpses. But I’m doing it.

And so I post this reflection from the London Heathrow International Airport, minutes before I walk to the gate for my flight to Rio de Janeiro, for the final leg of my journey. I hope you read this as I cross high above the Atlantic Ocean, and consider this:

You can go anywhere; you can do anything; you can be whoever you want to be.

It’s up to you..

22 Replies to “The Final Stretch”

  1. Poignant post, Christopher. Personal growth, compassion, a sense of others’ lives and experiences is what you were looking for, so mission accomplished. I speak for many when I say have a fruitful and fulfilling final leg…and we will welcome you home with open arms in a few short months.

    Like

  2. Favorite post yet. When I read what you wrote, I don’t really think you have changed at all. I think that you have only allowed the best parts of you to shine through more. You even said it. Nothing from your list was new, it was only “more.” Enjoy Rio and beware of the foam parties…

    Like

  3. Seems like you’ve managed to learn more of life’s lessons than most of us who’ve lived a lot longer. Very proud of you. Carry on and we’ll see you in Panama in December!!

    Like

  4. Just want to say I have really loved seeing all the pictures and living vicariously thru the stories.

    I have asked myself many times during the last year, if living the “American consumer lifestyle” and grinding out the work week in morning traffic, really the way it’s meant to be?

    Anyway like past tradition I leave you with 2 quotes:

    “A man travels the world in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.” George Moore

    “As your circumference of knowledge grows, so does the darkness surrounding it.” Einstein (sounds a lot like your Socrates and Einstein had the same idea)

    Like

  5. Arriving at this epiphany is a major lifetime landmark. Most people never arrive at the launching pad. But now that you have arrived at this new point of view, you will find that it is the beginning of another journey. This feeling of being more “in the moment” and trying to be a better person than you were before is a great milestone. I found myself in this place four years ago when I came very close to death. One of the key things is to make sure that you don’t fall back into “the old ways.” The hardest part is arriving at where you are now. Hanging on to it is a lot easier, but you do need to stop from time to time and reflect, to make sure you are still on the same path. You are in love with life and in love with the world. But the world does not always want to love you back. You will stub your toes and bloody your nose, but just keep going. You now have a star to guide you and the wind at your back and I wish you God-speed on your journey.

    Like

  6. Hi Chris,

    This is my first post on your blog but I have been following you on Facebook and have really enjoyed your posts and photos all the way through.

    I truly wish I had done what you are doing when I was younger and a big part of the reason was money and how I thought about money then. But, I am not complaining. I have, since the age of 29, had the very good fortune to have traveled to 17 countries on 4 continents and am certainly not even close to being done yet.

    Which is only to say, it never has to be “over”. It’s just the first large step, I hope, in a life that will always have the passion for world travel and all that it can bring to who you are, and can be for others.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your journey. It has been inspirational.

    Like

    1. Hey Bryce, thanks for checking in on the comment log! Your story gives me confidence about future travel; knowing that I might not do another round the world trip, I’ve been concerned because there are so many places I want to go back to and so many other places I haven’t been. 17 countries since being 29 shows that it can be done, even without doing a long-haul trip. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  7. Nice post Chris… I enjoyed reading through your reflection. I am excited to learn more about how this trip will influence your next steps in life. Look me up when you make your way through Miami.

    Like

  8. “The search comes to an end, when you realize that true and lasting fulfillment you are looking for, you can find only here where you are now. It is here. It is in you, in me, in all aspects of life, both conscious and unconscious. It is everywhere. As long as you are looking for it, it can not be found, because you assume that it is somewhere else.” (GANGAJI). It seems like you have just felt it now and here, congrats, I wish you more such moments of awakening:)

    Like

  9. What a journey Chris!! Coming from someone who watched you prepare for this trip over the last 4 or 5 years, I’m happy that it’s been such an inspiring and life changing experience. Can’t wait to hear some of your stories once you get home…maybe over an honors class reunion xmas dinner.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s