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You better Belize it

On Traveling to Beautiful Places

by Mary Oliver

Every day I’m still looking for God
and I’m still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
In the islands that lay in the distance
Continents of ice, countries of sand
Each with its own set of creatures
And God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
Maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
And in truth the only ship there is
Is the ship we are all on
Burning the world as we go.

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I had a rough year, last year. Solo travels gone wrong, being tired, heart-break, stagnant, being over solo-travels. I got stuck, not wanting to travel, not wanting my old life back. Thinking that a new path was the way forward.

But something called to me, Join us, come back, it whispered. There’s more, the voice called to me, the whole world is out there.

So, I agreed to take a vacation from my job to guide a trip to Belize for students. A vacation to work. It was technically travel. It was technically not solo travel. And a country I had yet to visit.

For 10 or so days, I worked in Belize, guiding a group of teenagers, spending 4 days at a school doing service, a few days in a jaguar preserve, and then a few days at the beach. It was hot and humid, lush and lovely, but definitely work. I spent time rubbing backs of kids who were sick, managing travel logistics, and waiting for kids to make decisions.

And yet, yet…. a part of me woke up. Whether it was riding in the back of a pickup truck down the highway, or seeing a fresh jaguar print left in the mud minutes before, or waking up to watch the sun rise over the Caribbean ocean, a part of me woke up.

The smell of citrus, the sound of local kids speaking kriol to each other, inky black nights lit up by more stars than I’ve seen in years (or so it feels), the sight of corals and nurse sharks and brightly colored fish — it all reminds me to wake up, to let go, to move forward, to become unstuck.

I remembered to marvel. I remembered to be in awe of the world. I remembered what it meant to try new foods and smile at strangers and ask people about their lives. I remembered how it felt to swim under a waterfall, and feel the sun on my skin and try new things, and be open.

I remembered that this is all a journey, and that “in truth the only ship there is/Is the ship we are all on/Burning the world as we go.”

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Carol Kushner #

    So cool. Makes me want to do the same. You go, girl!

    April 5, 2017

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