Text

Surprises

Two weeks ago, a friend and I spent a week traveling through the Amalfi coast. Our itinerary was vague, and not very well defined (perhaps intentionally so). We wanted to visit the coastal towns of Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi. Beyond this, we knew very little of what we planned on doing when we boarded our flight from London.

image

Some places bite deep. They touch a spot that has never been touched before. This was one of them.

The best part about traveling is not the discovery of a new place. It is not just about seeing the world. Seeing the world, exploring a new place, these are the default, expected experiences when visiting, passing through, or moving to and living in a new place.

The best travel experiences show you something about yourself that you didn’t know. They surprise you, because you surprise yourself. These moments are rare. They are like gifts from the universe, fleeting, barely noticeable. In fact, they can pass you by if you’re not paying attention.

I learned a few things during those nine days, as I slowly made my way through the beautiful Amalfi coastline:

  • My most courageous moments, especially over the past year, were born in fear
  • Fear, the experience of being a little afraid, uncomfortable, unsettled, is a necessary component of a life truly lived and maddeningly experienced.
  • I must continue to take leaps, especially the scary ones.
  • Never ignore a connection, especially the ones found in places I least expect. I will learn the most from people whose life experiences are nothing like mine.
Text

A Stranger by the Sea

image

I started early, took my towel, and headed to the sea by Capri.

The sun was rising, and in the distance, Mount Vesuvius looked at me. “Go back to your slumber” I said, looking up at it, feeling tiny and in awe of its majesty. The water danced below my feet, and the gentle blue-green waves of the mediterranean smiled invitingly back at me.

I hesitated, feeling weary of this beguiling invitation. Below my feet I could see the gorgeous and bottomless depth of the sea. I was already moved. Jumping in would mean surrender, and it would require courage.

A stranger stood beside me and whispered, "Go on. Jump in."

"What if the tide is too strong?" I said to him.

"It won’t be."

"What if I can’t swim all the way to the rocks?"

"You will."

"How do you know?" I said.

"I know, because you already do."

"Take my hand", he said, "We’ll jump in together."

"But I don’t know you".

"Does that really matter at this point?"

It didn’t. And so I took his hand, and we jumped in. The water was cold and salty as my body hit it. It pierced my skin. I saw the blue and green below the surface, and felt as if I could be swallowed up and eaten whole. I was a speck in the sea.

image

I came up above the surface for air, and gasped a deep breath in as I found sunlight again. The waves wrapped around my body and I started to swim towards the rocks. I looked around for my friend, but nobody was there.

"Where did he go?" I asked the boatsman. "The man who jumped in the water with me, where did he go?"

"What man?" he said back to me, "there was no man. You jumped in alone."

"No I didn’t!"

"Yes of course you did", he said smiling at me, "and you were very brave."

And suddenly I realized. Jumping in made me free.

Text

A Stranger in Sorrento

I write this in Sorrento. I must be dreaming.

It is midnight. Outside my room, I can hear the waves of the Bay of Naples lusciously lap against the shore. Tonight I will fall asleep to the sound of those waves, instead of the horn of a taxi, or the rumble of a bus, or the screeching sound of an ambulance rushing through my neighborhood in London.

image

Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, DH Lawrence, and countless other writers and artists were inspired to write in, or about, this place. Twelve hours in an I can already see why. 

The discovery continues.

Photo
Good morning, San Francisco

Good morning, San Francisco

Photo
Wings.

Wings.

Photo
7 AM: St Paul’s and London from Monument

7 AM: St Paul’s and London from Monument

Photo
6:40 AM: Quiet walk across Westminster Bridge.

6:40 AM: Quiet walk across Westminster Bridge.

Photo
Moody skies in London today.

Moody skies in London today.

Photoset

This is the start of a journey.

Photo
Yup.

Yup.