This time a year ago I began processing and thinking about a story that I did not publish until February of this year called "Flying Solo". The premise of the story goes like this: I needed an adventure and with no real plan, I headed to British Columbia for my first week long solo trip with one goal in mind: to have an epic adventure, to let my curiosity and camera be the guide, and to see a bear.
The trip from Maine to Vancouver was smooth sailing and I saw amazing cloud formations throughout the flight. I enjoyed a little chatter along the way with a fellow Mainer (a person from Maine) I met on my outgoing flight that was particularly meaningful.
I remember his hands, callused and worn. He shared that he was headed out west but staying in the United States to visit a friend and do a lot of fishing. He talked about how much he loved to fish and how much he was looking forward to this trip. His demeanor quickly shifted from joy to that of sadness and longing as he then shared that his wife, who had passed away, used to join him on fishing trips. I will never forget the way he talked about her. He loved her so deeply and it was a powerful experience for me to hear him talk and to see the pain of his loss.
It is funny how sometimes you see and hear the right things at the right time. For me this was a great time to be reminded of what love and longing looks like. As much as this solo trip was about an adventure it was also about reflecting on and regaining my belief that people can and do have strong passion, compassion, and love.
At one point he took a picture out of his wallet to show her to me. “Isn’t she beautiful!,” he exclaimed to me with a grin. I was reminded by this man, a near stranger, the importance of living now and cherishing the people that mattered most because we do not know how long we will have with them. That was in large part what I now understand this solo trip was all about. Leaving the past behind and moving forward to live this life, my adventure life on my terms unapologetically. It was also a time to become clear about the people and activities that were worth my time and energy. To boil it down to what I was most passionate about.
As we chatted the conversation shifted as he asked where I was headed. I shared with excitement that I was off on a road trip adventure beginning in Vancouver, BC. After hearing about my passion for the adventure that was awaiting and how little I had planned he seemed visibly concerned for my well being. As we landed and started to go our separate ways he looked back at me and said “be careful out there and have a great trip.” His eyes showed such care and concern for me and it was a great moment to be reminded that even people who barely know us are friendly, warm, and caring. My trip was off to a great start.
This is just a clip of the much longer story of adventure, reflection, and the power of the people you meet along the way (even when it is only for a very brief time).