People sometimes ask if I’m doing this trip around the world without airplanes because I dislike flying. But that’s not it. Few people appreciate flying as much as I do. Or airports. Like the one I’m in now, standing at arrivals, watching families and lovers reunite. They let their guard down for a few seconds, and you can see what really matters.
Picking up the rental car, I get chatting about my travels with a chap named Jay at the front desk. He’s blown away by this working-online-from-anywhere thing, like it’s far beyond his reality. But he seems like a smart dude. He knows how to work a computer. He’s fluent in English and Spanish. Absolutely no reason why he can’t do similar.
I’m getting better at watching my thoughts and emotions. The past couple of days, driving down through Florida, visiting places like West Palm Beach and Miami, seeing all the plush houses and fancy cars, I notice discomfort. It’s as if I have an aversion to wealth. Or maybe it’s just grand displays of wealth. Hopefully the latter, because I fully intend to be rich.
I arrived in the Americas thirteen months ago on a giant freighter. I leave atop one of the biggest cruise ships in the world, floating out to sea with a view of South Beach, past million dollar homes on private islands, jet skis buzzing around like flies, wind surfers and paddle boarders in the distance, sun low enough to make for an interesting sky.
The perfect morning begins at 6:30 a.m., a spectacular sunrise on display as I head to the well-equipped gym for stretching and free weights, followed by a twenty-minute meditation session out on deck with an Atlantic breeze. Then it’s basketball drills on an empty court, a quick shower, and a slow breakfast over a good book.
Upping the meditation to twenty minutes per day aboard this cruise. I’ve been reading a few books on the topic, such as 10% Happier (highly recommended). Sitting in silence out on deck this morning, I let my itches go unscratched and watched as they took care of themselves. There’s probably a life lesson there.
I’ve been recognized a handful of times from the blog. The best was the guy in Hong Kong who approached me while standing in line at the supermarket. I never thought I’d be recognized on this cruise, where 59 is the age of the average passenger. But I was wrong: Anita and her husband are fellow bloggers and have been traveling the world for 2.5 years.
You can bleed money on one of these cruises if you’re not careful. The initial fee was cheap enough ($750 per person), but there’s a daily service charge of $13 a head, $120 for their cheapest massage, $180 a week for unlimited slow internet, and it’ll cost you $5 for every t-shirt you want laundered. I’ll do without the massage, stay offline, and wash my socks and jocks in the sink.
Some people say every place has a personality. Machu Picchu feels spiritual. The house down the road gives you chills. New Orleans has a soulful vibe. I rarely pick up on that kind of thing. If the Atlantic feels different to the Pacific, I haven’t noticed. That said, I like to think such vibes are real. Perhaps I just need more practice, more presence to feel them.
I’ve been spending a lot of time on this cruise working on my life plan, figuring out my goals, priorities, what my days will look like once settled in Amsterdam. It’s all very idealistic at the moment — plenty of time set aside for reading, meditation, reflection — but that’s okay. As Eisenhower once wrote, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Our seventh consecutive day at sea. They put on some good shows here every evening, all complimentary. The last two nights we’ve seen comedy. Tonight was improv, and they did a great job of it. Took me back to my days in NOLA when I dipped a toe in the improv waters, learned about yes-and, free-falling, and invisible children.
A day off the ship in Medeira, a Portuguese island a few hundred miles off the coast of Morocco. This counts as country #35 on the trip. I’m impressed with Funchal, the biggest city on this rock. Beautiful views, flowers everywhere, a good mix of worlds old and new. We walk the clean streets and visit the botanical gardens, me butchering the local lingo all the while.
One of the best things about this cruise has been lots of time to read. Mockingbird was remarkable, Jules Evans’s school of philosophy is mesmerizing, and so far so good with the mayor’s bio of Winston Churchill. I’m realizing that the ideal lifestyle I’m seeking to create for myself must involve at least an hour a day to simply sit and read a book.
We’re in the Mediterranean now, breezed past the Rock of Gibraltar late last night. The waters are calmer here. We catch glimpses of the Spanish coast and see plenty of ships throughout the day. In a little more than two weeks I should be home in Ireland, this 3.5-year journey at an end. But it’s not excitement that I feel. More a sense of peace.
I could talk about Barcelona, which is fantastic on first impression, but what’s on my mind more is self-esteem. Branden writes about the gap between what we think and how we act. Thinking one thing and doing another, not being true to yourself. That’s what kills self-esteem. Lately, I’ve been stepping up my efforts to close that gap.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?