The end of another year. In the interwebs, that means it is time to see articles about the year’s best in things like photographs, weddings, gossip, heroics and videos of kittens. For the travelers, we look in our journals, websites, tweets and photo album, reflecting on what we’ve seen, who we met, how we lived, laughed, ate, played and loved.
I think that it is nice to see many travel bloggers ending the year regaling us with stories of how they spent their year, who inspired them, etc. Because no matter where you go, how much money you make, how popular you become, etc., if you’ve forgotten why you travel in the first place, looking back is a nice way to remind yourself.
Well now, I suppose it is time for my reflections. This time of year is a big deal to me also because it reminds me of how I started on the path to finding this thing I love. Four years ago, I found myself stranded and broke in Helsinki, Finland. Family and friends helped me get back home but it was while there that I discovered that I needed to travel. I felt alive as I sat on a place going to another continent. From the time I landed, I began researching what jobs I could get that would afford me the opportunity to see the world. That catchy slogan, “Join the Navy, see the world,” popped into my memory bank and next thing I know, I was at the recruiter’s office signing my life away. And what a great life it has been.
With the help of Dr. Seuss and my favorite images from the year, here is my reflection on 2011.
January: Tokyo Greater Metro Area, Japan; Out to Sea
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
February: Out to sea; Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
March: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Kota Kinabalu, Borneo; Singapore (an hour into our arrival in Singapore for a port visit, word came that a large earthquake had hit Tokyo. Shortly thereafter, we got word of the tsunami and we set in motions plans to depart Singapore the following day. We took on relief supplies that night and began the mission that would become ‘Operation Tomodachi,’ spending more than a month at sea in support of the relief efforts.)
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
April: Okinawa, Japan; back home to Tokyo Greater Metro
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
May: Osaka and Kyoto, Japan
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
June: Bangkok; Hanoi; Halong Bay, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; Phuket, Thailand
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
July: Out to Sea; Noumea, New Caledonia; Brisbane and Cairns, Australia
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
August: Busan, South Korea; Tokyo Greater Metro Area
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
September: Tokyo Greater Metro Area
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
October: Kyoto, Japan
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
November: Tokyo Greater Metro Area
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
December: Tokyo Greater Metro Area
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
2011… no complaints. I have my health, my family, great friends, a job I love, plenty of free time and I am surrounded by love.
I started this website at the beginning of the year, exactly on 1 Jan 2011. In the year I’ve had it, I’ve shared many moments with the world. I want to thank all of you who continue to read my writing, inspire me, be inspired by me, share my photographs and share your stories with me. I may not get paid for what I do on this page, but that’s not why I started it. I started it as an online journal of my story and in 2012, that journal will become more personal, more in depth and a lot more entertaining.
I get emails from people telling me that they love what I do here and that means a lot to me. You don’t have to always comment, like or share a post, just letting me know that I can do something to make you smile is enough for me. Thank you all for sharing in my 2011. Thank you to those travel bloggers who inspire me and push me to do better.
I want to give thanks for the opportunity I have. Not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to travel, to wake up, to not be hungry, to have my family and to see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Happy holidays to every one!