“A man who has been in another world does not come back unchanged.”
~C.S. Lewis, Perelandra
I’ve never been very good at saying goodbye.
Be it people or places, I’m always all in, unpacking my bags and immersing myself in whatever time I may have somewhere. I carry with me the belief that this may be my only chance to “drink in every drop” – as I learned many years ago – which often makes the act of leaving especially bittersweet.
And so it was when it was time to say goodbye to the Galápagos. For a week, we had been dropped into a remote little world, seeing no one except our fellow shipmates and traveling only by zodiac. It was an exciting new routine of exploring landscapes I’d never seen and meeting animals I’d never encountered. It was a time of peaceful mornings on reflective waters and sunsets exploding over the horizon at the end of the day. To say that I was in awe is an understatement of the grandest kind.
I was especially struck by the humanity of the Galápagos birds and animals. In a place with few predators, they looked at us without fear or even curiosity. For those moments, we were simply part of their world. And for the most part, they all seemed to get along with each other, mingling on the rocks and building nests near other species. It may sound like a naïve observation, but these creatures seemed happy. Our human species might want to take a few notes here!
There are places in this world of ours where you feel a profoundly deep sense of gratitude to have trespassed. Dots on the globe where spending a few precious days leaves you with perspectives and insights that you never had before. Places where it’s impossible to identify a favorite moment because the entire experience is a favorite moment.
I left the Galápagos with the thought that somewhere between the world I had been immersed in and the world I was returning to, I had been a little bit changed. I felt fulfilled. Contented.
But that didn’t take even the tiniest amount of wistfulness out of saying goodbye.