The sun, a brilliant shade of orange, is setting over the coral desert. I watch it dip down out of my sight, sinking into the awesomeness of that big stone hole, the Grand Canyon. I am caught off guard by the memory of another setting sun in a desert very far away, under an acacia tree, I am in awe.
Ninety-three days of captivity in the empty deserts of Somalia—just me, a few shrubby acacias, some camels, and those kidnappers. All of this should have left me, at the very least, despising deserts of all regions, or at the very most, refusing to go anywhere ever again.
But here I am, wind whipping through my hair, arms stretched out wide, mouth full of dust, shivering in the cold night air. I am finally free, as free as anyone could be. Not just in body, but in mind.
It has taken me a while to figure out how to be brave enough again, to get out there and see the world that I love so much. But finally, my heart has healed and my brain is strong. I say good-bye to the setting sun, and I know this is just the beginning… not just another chapter, but the sequel, of the adventure called my life.
Prospective world travelers ask me all the time: “‘Because of what has happened to you while traveling, what would you say to someone who wants to go out and see the world ?”’
Without hesitation, every single time, my answer is simply, “GO!”
Go out and experience all those amazing places the world has to offer! Be smart, be safe, listen to your gut. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, LISTEN.
People often say life is too short to be bored and unhappy, but I think it’s actually the opposite: Life is way too LONG to be bored and unhappy.
We have no idea what is out there waiting for us—both the good and the bad. What we do know is that we are resilient and resourceful, and although there will be heartache, it will happen whether you stay inside the four walls of your house, or you follow your dreams and venture out.
I may look at the desert differently now, but that is what seeing the world does. It shows you how small you are in comparison to the universe and then makes you appreciate that you can only stand in awe.
When we let ourselves go, we become a part of it most certainly.
Woven into an experience.
Accepted into another’s world.
Brave as we venture out.
Breathing, taking it all in.
And that is what being human is all about.
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