1 month, 11 countries, train rides, passport stamps, and unforgettable memories were sealed in my mind as the backpacking trip through Europe came to a close. I arrived back in the United States with expectancy in my heart, ready to embrace my upcoming journey in South Africa. With every moment of anticipation comes a slight feeling of anxiety— trying to open my heart to a whole new world, yet not forgetting where I come from, and what makes me who I am.
The time has finally come— the time where what was once a beautiful idea in my mind transitions into reality. What an amazing and yet terrifying place to be. Being a student ended with graduation, and being a baseball player ended with the final loss of our season. Two elements that categorized my childhood, defined my life, and shaped me as a person ended in just three short weeks. So many of the dreams, visions, goals, and pictures that I once had as a kid looking to the future were contained within the boundaries of school and baseball. Where would they take me? How beautifully heartbreaking it is to love a game and the school you play for- the sacrifice, the sweat, and the tears. Those are the things that flurry through my mind over and over reminding me that an old chapter has closed and a beautiful new one is being written. Although the memories and the relationships will last much longer than the joy of victory or pang of defeat, it’s always hard to move forward from two things that contain so much of who you are.
Life is changing for me; once you graduate college, you find that out. The passage of time is a strange and crazy thing. It can make you feel magnificently heartbroken and incredibly giddy all at the same time. It causes you to re-evaluate who you are and what you want to give your life to— what direction you want to walk in.
In my first blog entry I wrote about the beginning of my month long trip to Europe. Before taking off on a backpacking trip through Europe, people usually caution you on the signs: “don’t look like a tourist,” “Europeans don’t like Americans,” “you can’t speak their language,” and on and on the list goes. One of the beautiful things I realized while I was there is that no matter the signs, more often than not, people are just people— everyone particularly individual and beautifully unique, yet all participating in this great dance of life together. I saw people running to help revive a bohemian man who passed out in the train station in Munich. I was able to sleep on a train from Zurich to Copenhagen because a Somalian woman offered me her purse to lay my head down. Several times Italian drivers pulled over to offer us a ride while we were walking from one town to another. I saw a group of strangers come together to carry a woman in a wheelchair up an escalator in Vienna. I was there to witness and experience random acts of kindness that occur all around the world every day. Although we do not all speak the same language, have the same skin color, or share the same culture, we all take part in this great dance of humanity— one human helping another.
Leaving for Cape Town brings up all the fear and trembling that comes from embarking on a journey to something unknown and somewhere so far away. All the “goodbyes,” “miss you’s,” and “love you’s” make it hard to go, yet I know where my passions are taking me, and the pursuit of those passions is something I seek to honor as much as all the people I will miss and those places of familiarity I am leaving behind. For all the times we say goodbye to a place, we also greet another. With anticipation in my mind, and passion in my heart, I say hello to South Africa 🙂