Carpe Diem

Today I'm off on another adventure. Yeah, I know, you've heard that one before.This one is different, though. Rather than going back to my favorite spots in Europe, I'm headed West, to places I've never been to, places I've only ever dreamed of going.I'll admit, I'm a little nervous. Heading off by myself into the great unknown is a little terrifying. I'm adventurous and all, but I'm also used to speaking the local language and understanding what I'm looking at. I've become a lazy traveler, in a way. It's good to have the bejeezus scared out of you to wake up the soul. Where I'm headed, there are no friends to help me, I'm a stranger in a strange land.It's funny how life is. It's so easy to fall into patterns that are comfortable and familiar. It's so easy to let go of dreams and plans that feel too hard to achieve. You may not believe it, but I've got a bucket list too, and it's not getting any shorter.But then again, there are times that big decisions are made in the blink of an eye, with such a casual grace that it makes you wonder what took you so long to get there. I made the decision to take this trip while having coffee with a friend. We both thought it seemed silly, and then thought again. Why not?I've been a professional traveler for half of my life, almost. It's my passion to explore exotic things and teach about what I've seen. I wouldn't have predicted any of this lifestyle, I was a very shy and bookish child, usually found hiding in a closet with my books or hiding behind my mother. How I've ended up here is a bit of a mystery to me, but something in my upbringing or life story has given me the feeling that every day is a gift and that complacency is dangerous.I wonder if some of you out there are stuck. Letting your dreams be dreams. Feeling afraid because the world is scary and going to see it in person is intimidating. It is. I feel that too. But from a shy girl that has overcome that timidity and embraced adventure, I've got some advice for you.Ask for what you want. Nobody is going to give it to you unless you say something. Nobody can actually read your mind. Ask even if it's crazy, you never know who or what is listening. How do you suppose I got my job? I asked.Have conviction about your choices. There are plenty of people out there who will disapprove of everything you do. Don't waver if you know in your heart that you are choosing the right thing for you. This is your life and the only one you're going to get (as far as I know, but I'm in a Buddhist country now so...). Making choices and standing by them despite the opinions of others, that's the tough part.Take the opportunity. You've had things fall into your lap, I know you have. Did you always go with them? I've guided my life based on the famous quote from Thoreau, "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Yes, cheesy, and yes, I was that nerdy girl in high school with a copy of Walden tucked under her arm. But still. There are so many experiences to have, so many people to meet and so much beauty to explore. When an opportunity presents itself, I take it. There are always risks, but if you don't give new things a chance, you'll always be in the same place.Be brave. It may be travel, buying a house, having a baby, starting a business. There will never be a perfect time or place for anything. You will never have enough money. You will never be thin enough. You'll never know everything. Waiting on your dreams only leaves a long list for the end of your life of unfulfilled wishes.So today, I'm being brave. I've always wanted to go to Asia, specifically Thailand. I've probably watched The King and I too many times, I'm not sure, but the allure of the Far East, with all of its bright colors and delicious food has put this on my mental roadmap. I want to go somewhere truly different and shake up my European sensibilities, see amazing architecture that I've studied and maybe hit a beach. I'm also a little bit obsessed with Thai food. Did I mention the food?I don't have the money for this trip, and the timing is truly terrible. But the opportunity presented itself, the door to adventure was thrown open by a friend who gets the arc I'm trying to trace in the sky. So I took the opportunity. It may be a disaster. Who knows what will happen? But at the end of the day, at the end of my life, will I regret what I did or what I didn't do?Carpe diem, my friends. There is nothing but now.