How does one begin to thank somebody for life? How does one thank somebody for a lifestyle so incredible, so full of adventure and leisure that dreams pale in comparison? How do I convey my thanks, the fact that I am so incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I have had these past three years (not to mention my life)? I guess it would start something like, "Dear Mom and Dad, thanks for everything."
I don't want to get all mushy on you. But sitting alone in my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur the night before I fly home after an epic three year journey across the Pacific Ocean, it's hard not to get a bit sentimental. I mean, really. This adventure has far surpassed all expectations I ever possessed. I never though -- in my wildest dreams -- that I would swim with humpback whales, surf Cloudbreak, drink kava with a Fijian chief, dive with sharks, stand on the rim of an active volcano, crew on a super yacht, shake hands with Kelly Slater, hold hands with an orangutan, become a local in Sydney, meet some of the coolest people in the world, be treated like a rockstar... the list goes on and on.
But really, the thing I am most grateful for is the lessons I have learned, both personal and worldly. One of the most important things I have leaned is how to communicate better -- be it with the closest people in my life or somebody so different to me that I might as well be from another planet. I have learned just how far a smile, or a nod, or a slight bow can go with somebody with whom I share no common language or culture. I have also learned not to be quite so self-conscious. If a whole village comes out to watch us dance then I had better well get up and dance, even if I look like a total kook. I know they are not laughing at me, they are laughing with me (I hope?). It is human nature to be endeared to people who put themselves in awkward situations for others' entertainment or to respect another culture, and endearment goes a long way. I have learned to eat some really weird food, but have also learned to put my foot down when I've had too much, which can be hard to do with an entire village watching.
I have learned how to navigate through an atoll, I have learned how to say hello in 12 different languages, have learned how to entertain myself for 19 days at sea, how to identify tropical plants and husk a coconut, have studied the coastline of the entire eastern side of Australia (Melboune to Cape York) and have sailed nearly 20,000 nautical miles of open ocean.
However, the most important lesson I learned -- and will forever be learning -- is the importance of respect. Respect for people of all ages, genders, religions, sexual orientation and beliefs; respect for the ocean and the absolute power of nature; respect for fishes of all shapes and sizes, from clown fish to tiger sharks; respect for poverty and respect for wealth, respect for ailments and respect for health; respect for women's bodies -- particularly my own, and most recently, respect for my home.
I started writing this post in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but have since traveled about 8,000 miles and arrived home in San Diego yesterday evening. What a trip. It is good to be home. I can't wait to spend time with friends and family, reconnect and share memories. Aside from the fact that it is ridiculously freezing (particularly after three years in the tropics), California is beautiful and I am lucky to call it home.
And although I am home, I do not intend for the adventure to stop. I am and will always be salty -- and will do my best to continue to entertain you with stories of whatever crosses my mind. Which brings me to my last point: I want to thank you, my faithful reader, for following my blog all these years and supporting me through high times and low. It's been quite a trip, made all the more sweet because I've gotten to share it with you.