Four months after setting sail from San Diego, California, my westbound voyage is less than 24 hours from concluding in Barcelona, Spain. Today has been consumed with all the trappings of endings: packing, goodbyes, pictures, and reminiscing.
As I attempt to stuff every crevice of the my hiking backpack, normal backpack, duffel bag, camera bag, and huge sack I am going to have to find a way to lug across Barcelona tomorrow, I’m beginning to realise that I’m leaving with so much more than I came with. And I don’t just mean colourful scarves and $4 pants, though there are plenty of those, too.
My perspectives on the world and on life have been challenged and changed irreversibly. I thought I knew about the realities of life around the world from things I have read, or seen on the news or in documentaries, but nothing could have prepared me for the things I have seen. And having seen them, they can never be unseen.
I find joy in this new understanding, yet am overwhelmed by the disparities. Contrary to my expectations, however, there is little sorrow or pity. Rather, I find myself astonished by the Western lack of recognition of privilege and dumbfounded by rates and levels of consumption.
To complicate matters, while I am busy marveling at the rest of the world, my home country is shooting itself in the foot (with a gun purchased sans background check) and silencing movements. My curiosity and enthusiasm push me towards new horizons, but fights needing warriors beckon from familiar waters.
I can only hope that my place in the world will soon be revealed, discovered, or uncovered. Whatever the future holds, my bags are (pretty much) packed and I’m ready to find out.