Passenger Life (Arrival)

Traveling requires contemplation; life takes contemplation.

I expected to film in Chile – another never accomplished expectation. From the beginning, there were indeed several anticipations. In all ingenuity, I thought once the documentation started, access and view numbers would skyrocket, frequent comments would steer the project towards the correct decisions, and supporters would contribute with personal costs. None of these expectations were ever reached, and disappointment certainly made the reality harder to acknowledge. It took months to realize, but the mentality had to be changed if pre-established goals were ever to be achieved. One inevitable question cleared the truth: who rather than what.

Recognition, numbers, profit: these were indeed misleading expectations. I initiated the project thinking about inspiring those behind their computer screens; yet, the inspiration came from those in front of the camera. I was simply an observer, a mediator, connecting successful stories around the world; and in the particular case of non-profit struggles, success has distinct implications. Triumph depends on people of change: peacemakers, listeners, problem solvers, visionaries. Ignore corporate empires, flashing lights or champagne toasts; only genuine success can be measured in smiles – one source of infinite contemplation.

Traveling requires gratitude; life takes gratitude.

Despite all expectations, the experiences far exceed whichever pre-envisioned reality (or dream) I might have had; and for this precise motive, I am forever grateful. The contact procedure was arduous: it would always start with extensive research, down to a selection of relevant organizations and eventual emailing/phoning. However, out of five or six contact attempts, only one (if that) would positively reply. Regardless of the unsupportive response ratio, the organizations that replied always seemed to provide the most appropriate alternative. Elephants in Namibia, health care in Burundi, business loans in Indonesia and youth education in Turkey: one success after the other.

Along the journey, people often inquired the reason why I was committed to this project. Several did not understand what (read things) I gained from the experience. And as much as I would try to explain, ultimately confusing myself with my own explanations (I must confess it was not always clear), I would eventually just look around, into the individuals’ eyes, acknowledge the moment and declare: “for this precise reason.” Like one simple finger snap, they understood. Volunteering can be indeed one ungrateful occupation; especially for those committed to the wrong reasons. The wise know that volunteering is the gratification itself; the ability to forgo otherwise devious rewards. In fact, any life occupation can be detrimental if done purely out of desire. Solitary desire blinds us from gratitude; add passion and joy, and you got a successful combination.

Traveling requires enjoyment; life takes enjoyment.

Easter Island, in all its beauty and mystery, added an exclamation point to the end of the journey. Sunsets over the Pacific, long hikes through deserted lands, and an idiosyncratic culture: these are the essence of long-lasting memories. I remember one particular afternoon, after an entire day of sightseeing, my brother and I sat by a line of fifteen Easter Island statues, cautiously restored and preserved. Waves hit the rocks behind their backs, eyes focused on the sky above and green fields stretched beneath their feet; there, we sat and rested.

Oh, the moments of joy. The great majority of the steps have been achieved through smiles. I could further reminisce for paragraphs and paragraphs, turning smiles into laughs; but those will come naturally within time. Life takes planning, decisions, contemplation and gratitude; most importantly, life takes enjoyment. Always remember, if along the journey you happen to share one genuine smile, it can only mean one thing: true happiness. Look around, acknowledge the moment and declare: “for this precise reason.”

We walk, we fly, we run, we sail, we travel; in life we are all just passengers. We have children to continue the journey; we leave possessions behind, we write our history; yet, only the travels are eternal. And after one successful circle around the globe, consisted of walks, flights, runs and rides, one remaining question has tears of joy running down its answer: how can I be going home, when I have been home this entire travel?

First half of the article: