There are certain moments during travel when you have time to reflect. I recently had one of those moments. A work related continuing education conference took me to Japan which happened to be the fiftieth country that I have visited. What did this mean? For one, I was counting my blessings that I was healthy enough to undertake these journeys. Second, I was thankful that I had the resources to travel and that I was raised by two parents who loved to travel so much. I felt lucky, inspired, and happy at that very moment as my plane crossed over the Pacific Ocean.
As I listened to Christina Perry’s “Human” during the twelve hour journey to Japan, the reflections on my life continued . Without a hint of doubt, some of my most happy times in my life occur when I am traveling. Of course, I thought about those times and reminisced fondly of them. Some of these moments were simplistic – eating In and Out Burger on the first day of our honeymoon as we watched planes approach LAX over Sepulveda Boulevard. Other moments were too unbelievable to even describe. The three most enjoyable days I have spent in my life were at Pondoro Game Lodge in South Africa. Never, have I been so captivated and excited for such a period of time. I knew at that moment, everyone needs some adventure in their life. Some unpredictability in life is ok. I also thought about the times when I was able to celebrate a professional milestone with travel and two examples came to mind. I was able to celebrate the passing of my board exams in Cairns, Australia with my friend Emily. The other being a Baltic Sea cruise to celebrate the end of my oral and maxillofacial surgery residency with my parents and wife. The happiness of attaining a goal and the relief that comes with it is one feeling that I most definitely will never forget.
Many times for me, travel has represented an escape from the stresses of life – almost all educational and professional stresses to this point. When I am traveling, I tend to lose myself in the place. The stresses are gone and although I know it is only momentary, it has been absolutely necessary for me to continue on this path I have chosen. Ironically, these very professional stresses that have so tortured me have also allowed me to undertake such a varied and exotic travel lifestyle to six continents and fifty countries. I guess life is all about trade offs. I contemplated whether the trade off was worth it and the truth is, I don’t know the answer to that question. The one thing I do know is that I will continue to travel. The travel might not always be in the same capacity as it has over the last six years, but it will continue to be a priority. That very thought makes me happy as I dream about the next adventure.