It is my last night in Byron Bay, Australia. I came here with the intention of spending 3 nights, and this will be my 10th. I love this little town. It reminds me of Boulder, Colorado with it’s hippie-chic vibe and relaxed manner, but instead of being tucked in Colorado’s Rockies, it’s on an aqua bay in Southeast Australia with water so clear you can see your toes in it. It’s time to move on but I don’t want to leave.
The strange thing about travel is that when I leave a place, I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there again. I could live in this little town- but there are many places I hope to live and visit. Life is short and I want to see every inch of the planet that I possibly can, so it makes repeat visits to places harder to come by. As I was on my daily sunset run along the bay tonight, I tried my hardest to breathe it all in, so that if I never visit this place again, I will be able to always feel it. I am a nostalgic person.
Leaving places and people I’ve cared for is always hard for me – I don’t like goodbyes. But I did see a quite the other day that I loved and that speaks to me:
“In the end what matters most is how well did you live- how well did you love- how well did you learn… to let go”
And I guess it always comes back to that- everything we love at some point is also something we have to let go of.
This morning I completed my Scuba Diving Open Water Certification. It was a 3 day course that has certified me to be able to dive anywhere in the world. I got really lucky and earned the $500 course for free by winning a limbo competition.
Not too bad for a 29 year old gal, beating out two 19-year old beauties who were even shorter that I am. Our first dive this morning was incredible. We were out at a marine sanctuary called Julian’s rock, and we came across about 20 sharks. 5-6 were grey nurse sharks and we swam within about 3 feet of them. I was a lot less scared than I thought I would be- really, they’re just like big fish. We looked like aliens to them, I’m sure, with all of our gear and being the only creature that blows bubbles. The reefs were like underwater caves and it felt other-worldly. I stared face-to-face with the biggest sea turtle I’ve ever seen- he was about 5 feet across. As soon as we came out of the water, a humpback whale breached about 30 feet from our little boat. Needless to say, it was a magical day.
Everyday on my run, I think about my life- and life in general. I think about how thankful I am for each day and each experience. I think about how travel changes me. It gives me a bigger view of the world and of my life.
It makes me want to live simply and not store up so many things. Things that don’t last, things that I cannot take with me. The only things that I can take with me are the legacy I leave and the life experiences I have. It makes me want to prioritize my life in a way that is meaningful to me. I see such a difference in how Australians and Europeans live their lives vs. Americans. I have met so many people from other places, and only 1 American thus far.
Most people from other countries work to live- and to live a really rich life. They take years at a time and travel the world. It’s customary for every student to take a ‘gap year’ after high school or college and travel around the globe for a year. Hence, most travelers I’m meeting are 18-25. If I ever have children, I want to teach them that life isn’t just about getting a good internship that will lead to a good job. I want to teach them that life is about really living, exploring new places, meeting new people- and letting all of those things shape and mold them.
Tomorrow I continue up the coast. Byron Bay, you’ve been a really special place to me. I don’t know if we’ll ever spend time together again, but I hope so- maybe I’ll see you 20 years down the road. For now, au revoir.