Eleven years ago, this journey began when I made the decision to leave my stressful, highly-paid job in a tall office building in Boston. Over the months that followed, decisions fell into place that meant selling a home, a car, a variety of possessions, and putting others in storage. Another job was quit (not by me, by that lovely woman who walked beside me in life for a while – if you read this blog when it started, you’ll remember her). Ten and a half years ago, I took off with two backpacks, a ton of frequent flier miles and hotel points, and a plan to travel for up to 18 months.

Ten years ago this month, I stood at the tip of New Zealand’s North Island at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. A few brief words were written about it here. It’s one of many moments from the last decade seared into my brain, one of natural beauty and peace, of feeling part of a world larger than myself, recognizing an ancient energy and knowing deep within my soul that I was in a sacred place. I don’t recall thinking, in that moment, about the ten years that preceded it or wondering what was in store for me on the road ahead. Although I might have — without my journal to hand, I can only rely on memory and she can be a devious trickster.

cape-reinga-sunset
March 2014, Cape Reinga, New Zealand

Today I made it to a place that’s been on my list for years: Cape Agulhas, the southern most point on the African continent. As I had no intention of a blog post or otherwise sharing my day, I took few photos and mostly I sat, staring at the sea, lost in thought, jotting the occasional note in my journal. The Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet here although there’s no way to see that beyond the words of a sign. A religious group sang their lord’s praises and tourists clambered over rocks, lined up to take the obligatory photo in front of the sign. Perhaps because I didn’t make time in October to fully reflect on ten years of being outside the US, or perhaps because my life is in a state of transition, or simply because of the obvious connection of oceans meeting, I couldn’t help thinking of Cape Reinga and my journey since March 2014. Then of course, wondering what the next decade will hold.

 

March 2024, Cape Agulhas, South Africa

When I left my career eleven years ago, if you had told me where life would take me, I’d have believed you for some bits (skydiving in New Zealand, SCUBA diving in parts of French Polynesia I hadn’t even heard of, zip lining in Laos to look for gibbons, catching sunsets from ancient temples, climbing Mt Kinabalu, diving Sipadan, tasting wine in vineyards on six continents, changing careers, finding homes in multiple places, meeting amazing people everywhere).

Then there are the surprises – so many of which never made it to this website. I wouldn’t have predicted divorce or the loves I’ve found and lost since. I certainly wouldn’t have believed that I’d visit Balinese healers; have my energy blocks cleared and my chakras aligned. That I’d simultaneously run a guesthouse and a hostel in a country where I didn’t speak a word of the language. That I’d go to AfrikaBurn and have a few nights out that reminded me of my late teens and early twenties. That I’d ride a camel in Morocco with three of my dearest friends (ok, I probably would have believed that one). That I’d get a tattoo from a centenarian in a remote mountain village in the Philippines. That I’d discover the power of meditation and realize how necessary it is to be my best self. That I’d spend a sleepless night in a tent in the Central Kalahari while a lion on the hunt prowled and growled, his roar vibrating through the ground. That I’d sleep serenely under the stars in Africa’s largest canyon hiking for days and eating gourmet re-hydrated meals, no tent needed. That I’d spend years living a settled, suburban life only to find myself once again selling a car and putting things in storage before a journey a bit different to the one begun in 2014.

So what will the next decade hold? What places, people, moments, adventures, discoveries, experiences, joys, challenges, loves, passions, pursuits will fill the tapestry of these next years? Who in my life today will still be a part of it then? What roles will they play? Who will I meet and how will our interactions shape one another? Where will I call home? How many places will I call home between now and then? What hobbies and professions will I pick up? What will I shed? Will the pants I wore today and 10 years ago still fit?* And will I find myself in March 2034 at another spot where oceans meet? Will I once again find myself chasing the unknown?


*About those pants – you can see them here and probably plenty of other posts on this website. They’re not the most attractive but damn are they practical, comfortable, and durable. Those shorts in the final photo have also been around the world and are still going strong. Athleta and ExOfficio should sponsor me given how many of their clothes I’ve been carting around the world for more than a decade.