“This energy I found, I promised myself I would never lose it again”
Author of the book Life Knocks Craig Stone said ‘life itself is more about our struggle to accept ourselves for who we are, and always have been, despite wishing to be different’. Before I left on my trip to Central America I was content with the idea that my life was good. Really good. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends; a roof over my head, an education, my health and the descent prospect of a career in the future. It sounds so arrogant, but for the life of me I couldn’t explain to you why at that time I still felt that there was something missing. It was a feeling, and no matter how hard I tried to find the source – of that somewhat sad feeling – it just remained. Only now, when I look back, can I say for certain that taking the step to travel for almost 3 months was one of the best things I could have done.
There have been so many moments in my trip that have led me to the state in which I find myself right now. The most memorable being those that involved seemingly unique individuals that opened me to change as a person, and have made me grow stronger in so many different ways. One memory in particular was the night I sat at the top of volcano Acatenango, in Guatemala.
My friend Sammy and I were with a group of 10 others, sitting at the campsite near the volcano summit. We were all eating some spaghetti, Nutella sandwiches and Snickers to reenergize ourselves after our 5-hour hike. We had been hiking at what felt like a 90 degree angle the entire afternoon. One of our mates was experiencing some signs of altitude sickness so we were all taking it easy. I shared a tent with two friends who had met up in Mexico and were now travelling together through Guatemala. They were incredibly nice people, very open and we shared the same insane energy and feel for life at that moment. They made me laugh and smile a lot. It’s an amazing thing, seeing how travellers make friends so easily. Many end up sticking together for weeks or better yet become friends for life. I think any traveller would agree that it’s a unique kind of friendship. I know for certain that the friendships I made throughout CA will stay with me forever.
Together with the other hikers we spent most of the night huddled up around the campfire, seeking warmth next to one another as the volcano summit was hidden away in the cold mist of the clouds. We shared experiences, and admired the amazing things we had done in our lives. And we spurred each other on to dream about the things we still wanted to do.
Then, just when we were finished eating, something truly extraordinary happened. The winds stopped, and the clouds started to pull away from the campsite.
Looking around us it was like the heavens were opening up to us. A bright and starry sky above our heads, a sight so pure it was as if the milky way was within our reach. We could see neighbouring volcano Fuego lucid across from us in the distance, its outline clearly defined by the moonlight. A still sleeping giant. I felt so at peace with this moment, any sensation of cold that I had felt before disappeared.
Behind the volcano a lightning storm was brewing, travelling slowly over the lower plains across the countryside. Thick grey clouds with sharp white flashes, and (at first) really quiet thunder dignified this moment as the storm rolled in over the plains. We sat calmly awaiting the storm that would eventually arrive at our side of the volcano. Hot chocolate in hand, no one saying a word really. I remember trying to find a comfortable position on the log I was sitting on when I heard a thundering roar behind me. A sound with so much force I felt the bones in my chest vibrate. The neighbouring volcano, Fuego, was erupting. We turned ourselves around to see it spit lava at least 50 meters straight into the sky. The red of the lava was so luminous in the darkness it felt like it was animated as we watched it slowly trickle-down the face of the volcano. An incredibly majestic sight. One I won’t forget for the rest of my life. It made me reflect on how grateful I was for everything that I had seen and the people who I was lucky enough to meet.
I thought about my journey up until this moment and how it had changed me. I reminisced quietly on some special moments, and the hardship I had been through a few days earlier. I had changed for a better me, and I did it only for me, for once. I felt so exhilarated and alive again; never had I felt so content with being out on my own and being the person who I am. I was grateful for the people I had met. The ability for them to bring joy into my life and for me to have been able to return the favour. I found passion again in doing exactly the things that make me immeasurably happy. My heart felt lighter and fuller at the same time, and that lingering sad feeling I was talking about before was gone.
I felt free from all and any attachments and responsibilities from back home. I was energized to go out and chase down the things in life that I love to do, and that make me who I am. I know what I want, and I know that living this moment is what matters right now. I’m not afraid to say that I am going to take many more steps forward from here on in. This energy that I found during my travels, I promised myself I would never lose it again; to always think back to this moment in Guatemala and remember what I learnt. I looked back at myself, and all I could do was smile.
Before I left on my trip there were nights where I would wonder why that day wasn’t amazing, why I hadn’t made it amazing. When I was traveling I made every day amazing. It didn’t matter how tired I felt, I made the very best out of that day. If I were to pass on a message to anyone it would be that you should care more about how you spend your days; and how meaningful you make them. Meaningful for you and meaningful for others. Care about the people you spend them with. And do the things that you love with energy and compassion.
You as a person have so much control on how you live your life. So why not make it amazing.