This weekend I turned 24. Or rather, I had my 24th New Year. I like to look at it this way because I view every birthday as the opportunity to revel in the past 365 days of life and opportunities as well as anxiously look forward to the future.
And with this birthday looming, I spent the past few weeks drafting an apropro birthday post. In a perfect world, it would summarize my year of travels, experiences, encounters, and and all my hopes and dreams for the future (insert sappy music here).
However, this is not a perfect world. And while it sounds light-hearted, nostalgic, and rainbow-filled, it wasn’t. You have no idea how much anxiety this has brought me. No matter how many times I started drafting this post, it came out wrong and I cursed myself for sounding so egoistic (I know birthdays are pretty much your ONE day a year of excused narcissism, but I get major ego guilt about it- but that’s a different post).
I had decided it was not worth even posting about and trashed my blogs, convinced even cheesy Hallmark cards would snub their noses at my feeble attempts.
Then I received a very special message from fellow traveler/adventurer, Mike Restivo of Mike Off The Map.
I’d like to claim that I’m not a total baby but his e-mail made me well up with tears. And I suddenly understood why I couldn’t blog about my birthday. I wasn’t supposed to. I could never top his words. And they were too beautiful to keep to myself.
So now I share them with you, with photos added by me (because you know I’m a sucker for visual aids).
And just as an additive, I hope you all know how much I appreciate all of your e-mails and comments. Some days I question why I do this (and am completely TERRIFIED by my path), but your words motivate me to keep moving forward. And I’m so thankful for them because they’ve led me to some of the best experiences of my life.
So thank you for following and partaking in my adventure. Here’s to hoping my 24th year will be the most adventurous yet!
I imagine today you’re receiving messages from all over the world, from friends of every different language, culture, nationality, people who you’ve touched and inspired by daring to live a life that puts discovery and exploration above all else.
I offer only my simple thoughts:
For the last year I’ve had the pleasure of reading your adventures and in it, I’ve come to realize that dreaming to live a life simply exploring the world isn’t crazy or impossible.
You do something that unfortunately is so rare these days, you find discovery in the simplest moments, you take everything with a rousing sense of humor and I think what truly sets you apart from other writers is that you make your travel personal. It’s not about where you’ve been or what you’ve done, it’s about the moments that you’ve had and the people who you meet.
I’ve shared the emotions of watching a sunset from a European cityscape like Paris & up close and personal animal encounters, (unfortunately you have the advantage over me as I have yet to meet a single Muppet).
You aim to inspire people to see the world for what it truly is: good people looking for happiness and mutual understanding beyond languages and traditions. And out of the so many journals that I’ve read as a writer, yours has been the one I always look forward to.
So I want to wish you a very happy birthday, and a congratulations on your first travel year. I’m hoping you find it with lots of great friends and family and with the thoughts of people you’ve inspired all over the world. Here’s to another great year, new adventures and discoveries, and the promise of a new traveling partner when I move out West.
Your fellow blogger, traveler, dreamer, and friend,