When I was a kid, okay, far into my teenage years, I went to summer camp. YMCA Camp Jewel: Ranch Camp for two weeks with my best friend, Kallie, whom I’ve known since I was four. She’s one of those friends that I don’t remember not knowing—just for that reason alone she’s a keeper. But she’s pretty funny, weird and goofy too, so it works out well.
Anyway, every year her Mom would drive us to the first day of camp and would slow the car wayyyy down so we could read the signs as we approached the entrance:
“You’re moving way to fast”
“We’ve got to make”
“These moments last.”
Each line was on a different sign that was separated by about 30 feet. Kallie and I would literally be unbuckled trying to scoot the car faster so we could meet our councilor, bunkmates, and our horse for the next two weeks. (Mind you, we were really cool 15 year-olds.) Her Mom would be creeping along, going on and on about the signs, and how these next two weeks are going to “fly by,” blah blah blah get us to summer camp freedom!!
I get it now. I still find myself on the edge of my seat trying to scoot myself through to the next adventure, but now I’m consciously telling myself to slow [the effffff] down. I could get even more cliché and remind you (while reminding myself,) that “Life is a journey not a destination.” but that would be lame and predictable and typical expat-traveler talk.
As I wrap up my time in Kamphang Phet, Thailand and embark on a solo backpacking trip through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia I’m scared that I’m going to rush through it. That I’m going to be riding a motorbike up a mountain and be wondering what the beach is going to look like next week. Or be lying on the beach and thinking about my friends that I cannot wait to see when I land in Oregon in May—
My goal, my one and only goal for traveling these upcoming months is to slow down. I can talk a good talk about doing this, but I know that I will struggle. I know that this idea of taking it all in, not looking so far ahead that I forget where I am, is going to be extremely difficult for me. But this is a challenge that I’ve put myself in and will learn to sit back in my seat and read each sign, sing the song, look at the mountains and notice the sand between my toes.