Life is Too Short for Ordinary
by RACHEL MILLER
When I think about my life up until now, I know that I never had a chance. I know that it sounds worse than it is, but in all honestly it is the best life I could have hoped for. When I was sixteen, I boarded a plane to Paris. It was this trip that sealed my fate forever, for it was on this trip that I would fall madly in love with travel. Now, it would be hard for anyone--let alone a sixteen year old girl--to not fall in love with Paris and its many charms; but for me it was so much more than that. It was the first time in my life I fell in love with moments, faces, places, colors, tastes, flowers, buildings, and everything else my eyes wandered over. Life had been transformed, and at my core a deep and overwhelming change had taken course.
After that fateful trip, I was a goner. At the time I hadn’t realized what it all meant, but I knew in my heart that it would prove itself most valuable. I am that person who lives out of a suitcase. I have no place to call home, nor no furniture to my name. A house payment, a mortgage, a car, a pet, these are all wildly exotic concepts that I have never had the pleasure of knowing or claiming. I look at my life and although I have sacrificed much, I think of all that I have gained. Most importantly I have learned to love every little thing that this world has to offer.
I have fallen in love with the ocean many times over. I think of the ocean in Croatia and the crystal clear blue waters, the time spent swimming with two good friends on our first adventure together. The salt drying on our skin and hair, like a layer of armor, shielding us from the bad in the world and making us invincible as we explored a strange and foreign land. Next, the ocean in Bali, where I found enough courage to try my first open water dive. I will never forget the experience of circumnavigating an old WWII American ship, The USAT Liberty, that had crashed off the shore of Tulamben. At one point in the dive, we kneeled gently on top of the ship while thousands of Jack fish created a school around us. We were enclosed in a sea of silver for a couple minutes, but for a second I floated outside of my body and joined them, swimming happily.
I have fallen in love with the different tastes these countries have to offer. Food has always been a great weakness of mine and I am very surprised that I do not weigh 300 pounds at this point. I would travel to France just for the bread. Every time I am there I literally eat a baguette for every meal. In Edinburgh I did gain a considerable amount of weight from all the fish and chips and bangers and mash I consumed. The food in Asia, however, is my favorite. I learned how to cook Okonomiyaki in Japan. I booked a hostel in a little sleepy onsen town in the middle of Aso-san. The hostel happened to be for motorcyclists and I quickly found out I was the only girl and the only one who spoke English. It is amazing how unimportant language can be sometimes. My fellow travelers taught me the art of cooking this delicious Japanese pancake, while we celebrated new friendships.
I have fallen in love with laughter and smiles. Many times when I travel, I find myself unable to stop smiling or laughing for no reason at all. I hate how when people grow older they seem to laugh less. I am talking about the type of laughing you do when you are a kid; that infectious, high cackle of a laugh. The one that changes its cadence, it starts with a high pitch ha and then moves to a lower chuckle until you are laughing so hard that no sound is actually coming out and tears start to pool at the bottom of your eyes. The laugh ends with a sharp pain in your stomach as though you have just completed a hundred crunches and you want to keep laughing but it hurts to continue. I missed this. I had forgotten all about this until I started traveling.
I have fallen in love with moments. When I am an old woman I know that I will have these treasured moments that I can recall. Some of my favorite travel memories are the simple ones, the ones that don’t make for the best stories but hold the most meaning. Drinking tea and eating biscuits with my flatmates in Edinburgh. Twelve of us from all around the world sharing stories and our lives with each other. A drunken two A.M. visit to a Buddhist temple in South Korea for Buddha’s birthday. Hundreds of colorful lanterns suspended like gumballs in the night’s sky. Spending the night with friends in a haunted mansion in Malta, too scared to venture out of our bedrooms. Walking down a path in Ireland enamored by the landscape around me. Jumping on a train to Poland with only beer and chocolate to satiate our hunger for the next ten hours.
I have fallen in love with nature and all that it has to offer. I have seen extinct and active volcanoes in Japan and Indonesia. I have climbed to the top of mountains and traversed through wilderness. I have been to Ha Long Bay and been in awe at the floating mountains. I have been spelunking in Laos and New Zealand. I have swam over the Great Barrier Reef, dodged a sea of jelly fish in the Philippines, and have overcome my fear of sharks by swimming along side them in Korea. I have watched as baby sea turtles were released into the ocean on Gili Meno. I have gone alligator hunting in the oldest rainforest in the world. I have seen what the world looks like as I have jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet. I have been humbled as I have stood under old, ancient and tall trees that command the presence of the forest and everything around them. I have fallen in love with the world, I have fallen in love with adventure and I have fallen in love with life. I know that it is so important to see the world, taste the air, drink the sea, bask in the golden rays, to be confused and lost in a new foreign land, but more importantly to love everyday. Life is too short for ordinary.