“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
A few days ago, my yet-to-meet travel friend Bob wrote a beautiful piece of advice from his recent travels for a cruisecritic.com trip report. Bob and his wife Jeannie were nearing the end of a Caribbean cruise, and he so eloquently described his reaction to returning to his favorite mode of travel after two years of pandemic-related cancellations and disappointments.
“I think that one thing that has come out of the nightmare that we have all been through, is that it brings into focus how we have to appreciate wonderful moments while we can. I have always enjoyed my time on a cruise ship, now I favor it. If I may be so bold as to offer some advice to those who soon will be returning to cruising, and even to those who already have, it would be that when you set foot upon your ship, pause for a brief moment and soak in the glory of it all.”
Bob’s words, of course, are not exclusive to traveling by cruise ship. When we lose something that we love to do – especially when it is taken away quickly and unexpectedly – it shakes us to our core. Even if we’ve always made sure not to take our precious passions for granted, I believe that deep appreciation for what we have doesn’t truly sink in until it is no longer there. We dream. We make plans. We base our decisions on the now. It’s as if we expect the order of our orbits in the universe to be as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise.
Bob’s call to pause and soak in the glory reminded me of another bit of wisdom from one of the expedition team members on our Antarctica voyage. The night before our first landing on the White Continent, the team briefed us on what to expect when we arrived – Antarctic rules and regulations, zodiac protocol, landing procedures. But for me it was a comment from expedition guide Luqui Bernacchi that hit at the heart of what we were about to experience.
“When you get there, your first impulse will be to start taking photos. But before you do, stop for a minute and look around. Take it all in and be present. You are in Antarctica.”
As the world of travel continues to slowly reopen, I hope we never forget how we felt when those doors to our dreamed-of destinations disappeared in an instant. I hope we treasure every moment of our vaccine-card-carrying, covid-test-taking and periodic-mask-wearing travels. And when we arrive at our destination, I hope we look at where we are with renewed appreciation, profound gratitude and a heaping dose of wonderment.
I hope we pause and soak in the glory of it all.