The night before, I felt as though I was suffocating beneath a thick blanket of Northern Australian atmosphere. Sweat pooled without conviction beneath my corpse-still body, and moisture was so thick in my lungs, I thought black mold might be the ultimate cause of my suffocation. Which is why I was so grateful to be inside our air-conditioned rental compact car. The vents flowing with artificial air were wide open and blowing full blast.
“Alright, we saw a few crocodiles, now let’s get outta here!”
The car was put into reverse, and we started to roll backwards.
The tree had barely a scratch on it, but as the glass from the back windshield of our apparently destructible, rented compact car showered down upon the earth, we only had one thought.
How could we allow this to happen?
A few years before, in a different corner of the world…
I couldn’t hold it any longer. I had to go, right then and there. We were only three miles from port in Everglade City, FL, but with gentle waves rolling in every direction, I demanded a pit stop. I spotted a friendly looking island of red mangrove trees and paddled hard in its direction. Success. With one leg, I perched on the arched roots of the mangrove, with the other, I attempted to crawl back into the front seat of our metal canoe. Needless to say, it was a failed attempt. My foot slipped and the weight of my body fell into the side of the boat causing it to rock and sway. Also, causing the item in my co-paddler’s hand to drop into the salty waves below. With the look of distraught disbelief on his face, I was quite certain as to what that item had been. An open Pelican Case containing one cellphone and two iPods. And as we scooped our electronics out of the ocean, we only had one thought.
How could we allow this to happen?
For avid travelers, the list goes on and on…
The GPS has no signal and we have no maps?!
The water filter is broken?!
The low gas light has been on for 20 miles?! AGAIN!
It’s simple, completely avoidable mishaps that can alter an experience so drastically. So incredibly drastically that it has the ability to completely make or break a trip, if you allow it.
In Australia, in the sweltering humidity of 110 degrees, when we casually backed our rental car into a tree, we were furious. And then we were sad. And then we were realistic. This accident could ruin the remainder of our journey through the Land Down Under, or we could deal with it and move on. Back in the states, we learned that when internationally renting a vehicle on a Visa Credit Card, they will cover the costs of damages up to a new car. (As eligible, of course.) There was never any reason to worry.
In Florida, dropping all of our Apple products into the ocean only caused us to detour into Miami for repairs. It just happened to be ArtDeco weekend, which is THE perfect weekend to experience Miami’s nightlife and culture.
Every day, whether in travels or at home, I allow moments, words and thoughts to break me. I dwell on them until my stomach hurts, my mind is swirling, and my emotions are strewn to an unrecognizable mess. And for what? For nothing.
A missed experience. An unfelt sense of peace and clarity. Another unintended rift in relationships.
I would rather travel, hike, paddle, and live my life to the fullest through the unexpected twists and turns of life’s great adventures.
Tomorrow, when life’s mishaps and accidents are cast down upon me, I will take a deep breath and only have one thought…
What can I gain from this?