"Oh, I'm on my way, I know I am, somewhere not so far from here," begins Cat Stevens' "Sitting," one of my all-time favorite songs.
In some ways, the past months have gone fast, but there are times when I find it hard to remember the feeling of home. I guess that means it's time to head back and resume what a lot of people would call "real life."
But not before I say a few final words--and offer a few thanks, because Cat's song goes on to say "Sitting on my own--not by myself. Everybody's here with me." In truth, I've never felt alone on this trip. Writing this blog has been an enlightening experience. It's helped me focus on details, cement memories, and analyze my feelings--and feel close to the people I care about.
Sometimes, though, I admit it felt like I was writing to the air. Thank goodness for Courtney, Joanne, and Cornelia--my most consistent comment-ers. You three women tethered me to an audience, reminding me people were out there.
And Doug--who located me on Google Earth wherever I went--you were my best email pen pal. It made me feel secure to know someone knew exactly where I was on the planet--whether it was Otjewarango, Chiang Mai, or the Kinabatongan River.
Fred, my anchor--there aren't many men who would hold down the fort (and the dogs) while his crazy partner goes cavorting around the world. I can't thank you enough.
During the past 20 years or so, I've tried to live by a certain creed: that is, when I get to the end of my life, I want to be able to say "Remember when . . . " not "I wish I had . . . " This trip has gone a long way in furthering that belief, and although I probably won't leave this life with a truckload of money, I will go with a head full of amazing memories--including the new and old friends I've spent time with on trips like this.
What can you say about a friend like Amy, who travels to the far side of the world just to be "along for the ride"? You rock, Girl.
And Randall, my brother, who takes time out from Saving The World For Democracy to zip through the rainforest canopy--never once mocking my inability to stop screaming like a little girl.
Traveling alone mostly, though, pushes me into interacting with people I wouldn't otherwise meet, and my life has been so enriched by both these fleeting and lasting encounters in airports, on beaches, on trails, or just sitting around petting a lion.
At the core of this whole adventure, though, are the animals. I've had experiences and encounters whose significances I can't adequately express. For me, the creatures of the world are my best friends, my therapy, and my hope. I wanted to have that faith reassured and renewed on this trip, and I've been rewarded more than I dared dream.
Finally, Cat's song reminds me that "Life is like a maze of doors, and they all open from the side you're on." It's up to each of us--no one else--to make life wonderful and interesting. So put your hand on the doorknob and turn . . . .