(Day 4, Isabela, night time)
Two young fish swam by an old fish. When the older one asked, “How’s the water?” one of the young ones asked his buddy, “What’s he talking about?”
“Seeing the water” all around us takes effort. One action that helps is to take stalk of life on a regular basis. That is, one’s day, one’s projects, one’s relationships, etc.
Travel requires reflection as much as any part of life. Last month’s journey is akin to last night’s dreams. Both reduce to nothing but memories. Breathtaking memories, to be sure. Facts, opinions, conversations, observations and stories.
But each of these precious, scintillating recollections is a fleeting, ephemeral creature.
To not welcome them into the halls of our memories is to tell them they are unimportant. In return, they act more akin to underfed street urchins, running into and out of the light. They avoid capture at all costs.
The best antidote to this good problem is pretty much any writing tool, used in a regular manner. You don’t have to spend a lot time either. Take 5 minutes to answer the question, “what’s on my mind from today’s travels?”
On board the Endeavor II, the boys stared me down when I posed this task. (The same reaction to the same daily task I pose on every trip.) “Okay let’s write for a few minutes about what you learned, what was fun, or not fun. Anything that stuck out.”
Yes, it was the end of the day. Yes, they are tired. Yes, sleep looks SO inviting.
But being the victim of a long, exhausting, eye-opening day is not a problem. It is a gift plopped into your lap.
What happens if you take no action? Today’s discoveries will scamper away, street urchins in a crowded bazaar. At best, you will recollect them in a ragtag manner at some random future date. And again, they will whisk themselves away after that moment.
In Catholic parlance, you will be guilty of the “sin of omission.” That is, failing to act when you can and ought to.
But you can act right now, perhaps with a journal and pen, or laptop & keyboard, or a mobile device using speech to text. Grab a thought or a moment. Scrutinize it. Bag it, tag it. Date it. Locate it. Cross reference it by whatever dimension comes to mind. Knead it into its intended better shape. In doing so, you have dressed and fed each urchin. Now they are formal citizens in the annals of recollection.
The descriptions captured herein will serve as coordinates to the residence of that memory, located deep within the back alleys of your own mind. Success!
Now release them.
I cannot say Paul and Sidd were fans of this practice, yet. But they complied as they now trust my instincts when it comes to travel. Each boy would crack open OneNote on one of the 2 laptops we brought along, and begin to jot notes.
If weather permitted, we would get out of the room and go to the roof deck. Why not be out under the stars, with the breeze, and the lyrical sounds of the waves?
After they went to bed, I would follow the same practice. The only difference? I wrote for longer.
The upshot is puzzling and wonderful.
When you visit these memories in the future, these former street urchins will come forward, well dressed, articulate, and willful. Akin to a guide eager to educate (or re-educate) you, they carry you back to those amazing moments.
Again, you will see and enjoy your travels in vivid detail.