In August of 2015 I left my beautiful island home of Bermuda & embarked on what was supposed to be a 2-month trip to Southeast Asia. Within 24 hours I had gotten my passport & phone stolen. There are some vague recollections of that night which involve a lot of unregulated beer, two bisexual European girls, a ritzy hotel shower (which I don’t think belonged to any of us) & something about that hotel’s security assaulting us. But honestly, the exact details are probably lost forever. In retrospect I can’t help but laugh at how I never fully comprehended the gravity of the words “Bangkok has him now” in The Hangover 2. I learned what that phrase meant that night. Considering what a rocky start I was off to, it could have been quite a miserable trip. But before I knew it, 10½ months had flown by & I was still in Southeast Asia. I had completely blown off my return ticket home more than half a year prior, not even bothering to rebook it or give it a second thought; I was in my element. I had fallen in love with several cultures, people & places. No, I hadn’t fulfilled the cliché of “finding myself in Asia” by becoming a vegan, wearing elephant pants & growing dreadlocks. However, I had gained something far better. I had already known who I was long before I got on a plane to live 12 timezones away. Unfortunately, in the year leading up to my departure I had lost sight of that person, trapped in the maelstrom that is unhealthy interpersonal relationships. All too often we can gradually & unwittingly lose ourselves by focusing on others’ happiness more than our own. Asia allowed me to strip away all of the cumbersome baggage of that year & release my truest energy once more. For that, it has forever earned my gratitude, will always have a piece of me & retains my utmost respect.
“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”Ibn Battuta
In the whirlwind of experience & emotion I had completely forgotten that there was a life I had left on the polar opposite side of the planet; I hadn’t missed it in the slightest. But realizing that I had family back at home with health issues, I force-booked a ticket home out of fear. I knew that If I didn’t make myself do it then, I’d have never come home. I couldn’t live with the possibility of having family pass away while I was on the other side of the globe. At that point I had already lost a close friend while I was abroad & the impact of it was completely devastating. Knowing that we’d never share snarky comments again or a coffee before her shift was a huge knock to my world, but it gave me even more vigor for living & appreciation for everything that makes this world so beautiful. She drove me to live harder & love deeper. This year has been a complete rollercoaster & by far the most impactful year of my life. Now that I’m back in my sunny island home, I know what needs to be done. I will take all of my collected experience & channel it into creating beautiful things that hopefully inspire others to live harder & love deeper, like I was afforded the opportunity to do. This is my only aim; to show the world that there’s still monumental amounts of beauty still left in it if you allow yourself to focus on it. I’ll do it in an unflinchingly candid way that reveals that the beauty remains, even when the grittier & darker parts of life temporarily eclipse them. I hope that I don’t let you all down. I wish you all love & light.