Story from the Around the World
The story began in August 2009. I was wandering through different sections in one of the bookstores when I saw that book. Holding it in my hands, my eyes sparkled and I could feel a shiver up my spine. It seemed like the book was whispering: ‘I challenge you to get up of the sofa and make a difference in your world’. That day I couldn’t eat, and that night I couldn’t sleep either.
It’s said that from our parents we learn love and laugher and how to put one foot before the other. But when we open a book, we discover that we have wings.
Its title was ‘Around the world in 80 days’ by Jules Verne.
The idea of circumnavigating the globe haunted my thoughts. It got me pumped up for first few weeks or so, but then I started to realize what that would mean. Plenty of stuff gets in the way of our dreams, and pretty soon all I felt was not only excitement, but also loneliness and fear. I was afraid to try and take the risk. Anything worth doing is filled with uncertainty. Following our dreams can be lonely, very lonely.
My bank account had never been empty, but never high in the same time. I and my wife Sylwia made enough for comfortable living. We were about to become parents soon. Our first daughter – Laura, was on her way. Spending all savings on the around the world trip is probably not the most reasonable thing when you are a parent. Life changes priorities when you have kids. Once you become a father, your world becomes ‘we before me’.
What I had at that stage was only my dream, determination and a few ideas in my mind.
18 months later, on 22nd of January 2011, I hit the road to travel around the world.
Now, I’m closing my eyes and my mind is drifting back in time. What an incredible journey it was. These were crazy days – physically exhausting and mentally demanding.
I remember that for the first week or two I was mentally worn. I carried a lot of emotional baggage and was in a low spirit. I missed my daughter and wife and all that routine of home to the point that I wanted to quit hundred times. But I knew that if I’d give up, those feelings and thoughts wouldn’t just go away. The cost of quitting would be lifelong purgatory, a state of regrets. I’d be trapped in the knowing that I didn’t stay in the fight to the bitter end. So, I literally needed to mentally inch my way through the early stage of the trip. But then came joy. Once I found myself in that zone, time seemed to stand still. That was the juice.
Travelling the way that I did – exploring seas by boats, jumping on trains, starting and finishing in London, visiting Mumbai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco or New York and diving into a few other places – offered me everything I was looking for.
The diversity was incredible and so many unexpected things happened in this world in the meantime. I experienced things of great beauty like Mount Fuji surrounded by a blanket of clouds or dramatic snow-covered peaks of two great mountain ranges – Sierra Nevada and the Rockies. At times either I had that weird feeling in my stomach while getting seasick when crossing the Mediterranean or East China Seas or my heart was in my mouth when the mega earthquake hit Japan on 11th of March, killing thousands of souls. I was forced to modify my route when people hit the streets sparkling the revolution in Egypt, while my visits in the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai or the Mother’s House in Kolkata touched the deepest parts of my heart.
The trip has changed me forever. In these two months, I lived all the emotions of life, all the highs and lows – homesickness, fear, hope and the pleasure of finding a new friendship. I earned decades of wisdom. It opened my mind to the true possibilities of my potential, and with that came a change in my mentality. It was a victory of a dream, preparation and determination. It gave me a mental edge and a tone of self-confidence.
I don’t know if I ever have a chance to circumnavigate the globe again, but I know that the memories will just keep coming back for the rest of my life. The beauty was in the movement. There was so much time for reflection, which is a rare thing in these days of modern living. It was wonderful to share food and conversation with people I’d never seen in my life before. It made the trip so special. Having a sense that I can go anywhere in the world and find new friends is just unbelievable feeling. It makes me realize that no matter what kind of skin colours we have, no matter what kind of jobs we do, no matter what countries we are from, and no matter what languages we speak, all of us are members of this planet. It’s a small world and we are all connected. When you’ve seen first-hand the world, you tend to not concern yourself with the little things that most people seem to fret and spin on. You tend not to care about whether someone spelled your name wrong or forgot to send you birthday wishes.
The around the world trip was my dream. The dream became a goal, the goal became an adventure and the adventure became a pivotal point of my life. It might have been a small accomplishment and it may not sound like a lot, but it was another proof that my goals, however improbable, are not impossible if I apply certain amount of energy in the right direction. Now, I won’t have to tell my daughters: ‘there was something I wanted to do and there was even a point when I could have done it, but I just didn’t have the courage to try and take the opportunity’. I wanted to do it, I said that I’m going to do that, and I made it happened. I covered a long distance. The dream was over, but another was just beginning.
Words have tremendous candlepower. The Jules Verne’s book lighted my passion and blazed new trails. I still have it, a pocket edition with a price tag of 3.99 Euro on it. Without doubt, the best money ever spent.