I want to travel the world. That is most certainly one of my dreams, goals, and aspirations in life. The Anthropologist in me wants to see how other people live and see the world. But sometimes, just sometimes, there is more to seeing the world than traveling and there is more to life than chasing after dreams. My recent trip to Anacortes, WA in which my dream didn’t come true is a testament to it. So, if you have ever wondered what to do if your dreams don’t come true, then stick around…
***This post was written in September 2015 upon my return from Washington state.
Well, here I am. I am sipping on a warm ginger-lime-honey concoction that has kept me more or less sane for the last 48 hours since my allergy symptoms went out of control.
Between coughing out a lung, emptying every Kleenex box within reach, and the nasty pressure in my sinuses, I have come to question whether my latest vacation has been worth it.
Worth the effort.
Worth the high expectations.
Worth the time.
Worth the money.
You see, back in 2013 in the middle of a TV binge-watching episode, I stumbled upon a documentary called The Whale. The Whale is a documentary about a young male Orca whale, Luna, who, having been separated from his pod (family) took it upon himself to befriend the local humans of the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Although the documentary may not have been meant to make its audience cry, I don’t think I remember a time in which I have cried so wholeheartedly before. It was as though the story of Luna had awoken in me a deep well of pent up sadness that I had not cared to acknowledge before. Like… really deep sadness and grief–the one most people bury deep down below.
Shit. Just watching the trailer makes me get all teary eyed.
I really don’t know what it is that makes me want to cry. All I know is that on that particular night that I cried my eyes out for Luna and our collective inability as humans to connect with him on a soulful level. Then, the strangest thing happened: I became obsessed with finding out all I could about Orcas.
So I dedicated part of my life to binge-watching every Orca documentary I could find on YouTube and (most certainly) crying my eyes out.
I cried and I cried.
I cried so much I started laughing while I cried. Yes, like a crazy person.
I laughed because in the midst of the sadness I was experiencing I knew it was “ridiculous” that I would cry so easily over animals I had only seen two or three times in my entire 29 years of life.
Living beings who were subject to jumping through hoops for my entertainment as a child.
Living, sentient beings who had been taken from their families for profit.
Living, sentient, and wild beings who were taken from their natural habitat and placed in artificial environments that were slowly killing them.
This rant is not about whether Blackfish was an accurate documentary or not. Or whether companies that have Orcas in captivity are evil. This rant is about our need as human beings to think that it is ok for a sentient being to perform cheap tricks in an inhumane environment for expensive entertainment.
Would we do that to our children?
ANYWAYS. So what did I do? I decided I was going to see an Orca in the wild.
I had to.
I wanted to experience them in their glorious natural environment. You know… like Tom Hardy’s MySpace pictures in his undies.
It took me a year before I made it happen. Then sometime in early 2015 I pulled the trigger and turned my dream into a plan… and here I am, coughing my lung out, pulling yet another Kleenex out of the box, and hoping this sinus pressure will go away.
The good news is that I had a great time exploring the Pacific Northwest. The bad news is that the Orcas were swimming near Victoria Island (oh, the irony) and were too far from the San Juan Islands where we were. In the end, I did not get to see Orcas in the wild. My dream did not come true.
So… was it worth it to make the trip to Washington State?
The thing about choosing to live an epic life is knowing that life hardly goes as planned. I mean, I should already know that by now. But although I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to scratch “seeing a wild Orca” off my bucket list, I did not come back home empty handed. Other than a pesky cold, I ended up realizing about the 3 important steps to take when you want to get back on track after your dreams don’t come true:
When dreams don’t come true, let go and let god
I’ll be the first to admit that I was seriously disappointed that, although I did get to see Humpback whales and some pretty fancy Sea Lions, I didn’t get to see Orcas. That was the whole reason for me to head up there to begin with. I had been looking forward to this trip for so long and for a very specific reason, and in the end it didn’t quite go as planned.
But, like I said, when does life ever go as planned? It happened when I wanted to move to Japan, so it should be nothing new to me.
Impossible, however, not to realize in the midst of such beauty, that I was at the right place at the right time. Orcas or no Orcas, I was in this place outside of time. I had to trust something that I could not see, and it was everywhere.
Funny thing is that if I had gotten caught up in the fact that I didn’t get to see Orcas I probably would have missed the forest for the trees. It was a great lesson for looking at my life from a much greater perspective instead of being focused on my personal problems here and now.
Life has now become about divinely-inspired moments and trusting in them. Somehow, somewhere out there, there is a reason why things are as they are, and sometimes all you can do is throw your hands up in the air and say “make me an instrument of thy peace.”
When dreams don’t come true, relish in the joy of your existence
While on the boat, I realized I could see myself floating aimlessly for hours at a time with no agenda in mind. Just being.
How often do I give myself that privilege?
How often do I come up with new things that I should do to kill time? Like toying with the idea of getting a PhD fully knowing it will mean filling up my time with endless reading and papers upon papers, upon papers.
But to just be. To just be would mean to break the cultural conditioning that says I am not worth much if I am not doing something, anything.
How would the world be different if we all were comfortable in our own skins? Would fashion and tabloid magazines exist? Would we continue to progressively destroy the environment?
I’m probably going to end up getting that doctorate degree…
When dreams don’t come true, count your blessings
There are many things I love about travel. One of them is undoubtedly the people I get to meet as I make my way through the world. Traveling has sort of become a “faith in humanity = restored” kind-of-thing.
I may not have seen Orcas in the wild, but I was very fortunate to meet the people I met through this trip. Out of the three different places we slept at, I used AirBnB to book two of them, and the one place I didn’t book through AirBnB (because it was an actual hotel) I was thoroughly disappointed at how expensive it was and how shady it looked compared to the cost.
On the other hand, the homes we stayed at through AirBnB were clean and a great value for the cost. More importantly, we got to bond with the hosts in a way that you don’t get to bond with a hotel clerk. One of our hosts is actually a writer (you can support her work on Amazon here) and the other host bonded with my mom because she sells beauty products on the side.
So, next time your dream doesn’t come true, make sure to remember all that you do have going for you. Gratitude goes a long way and can truly transform your reality.
Would this have happened had I booked three hotel rooms instead of one?
Would this have happened if I had not seen that documentary about Luna years ago?
When questions like these arise, it is hard not to lose your reason for doing things… even your reason for wanting to travel the world.
This is when I stop and look back and wonder how much of my life is a matter of fate, and how much of my destiny I forge for myself. The answer, as it turns out, would come to me in the middle of the Andes Mountains on my way to Machu Picchu (and they reeeeeally fucked me up)… so stay tuned for that post by signing up to my newsletter below. All you have to do is type your name and email and I promise you not to spam you ever, ever, ever.