Last night, I stood on the balcony in front of my apartment door, in the lovely, bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, and listened to one hundred barking dogs.
I looked out at the twin toritos in stalwart protection of all the copper tiled roofs of my Peruvian neighbors. Everyone in the neighborhood was asleep, recharging for the tourists who would inevitably present themselves early in the morning, eager for a life-changing journey.
I watched warm lights twinkle on the dark bulk of a mountain that bordered the central city of Cusco, Peru, and I reflected upon living outside the United States. I’d lived in Peru for six months – six months -- and it was the first time I’d taken fifteen minutes to deeply appreciate what I’d accomplished.
So maniacal was the wiring in my brain, that half a year elapsed before I took a very long, very deep breath and let a moment permeate my soul. I realized that the entire time I’d been in South America it was a torrent of “What’s next?! WHAT’S NEXT?!!” constantly. It never really stopped. The monkey mind, that is.
And Cusco, Peru is not exactly a hustle and bustle city.
Even hiking the magnificent Inka Trail for four days, breathing in the cold, wet clouds, and culminating at the internationally revered spectacle of Machu Picchu, I’d never really taken a moment like I did last night at the front door to my apartment.
I looked out at the Plaza de Armas and the imposing cathedral built by the Spaniards, absolutely still at midnight during low season. I looked way into the distance at the road where I’d attended my first party upon setting foot in this odd Andean city two miles in elevation. Some of the people I met at that party are now my very close friends. They are my tribe.
My heart is filled with joy at the accomplishment of leaving a safe and conventional life and doing something that felt like me -- not what other people expected of me. I basked in a moment of victory under a different set of constellations than I’d known my entire life.
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to the universe, with all its wisdom at what travel has brought into my life.
In conclusion, my suggestion to you, dear reader, is this:
Don’t forget to be proud of yourself.
Take a moment, right now -- this instant -- to make a list of all the things that filled you with pride about your accomplishments in 2016.
Love, luck, and safe travels.