Have you ever thought about the people you’ve passed in your life; on the streets or in a car? People who you’ve glanced at once and just moved on to never see again? I think about it myself, and at this point I know that I have passed millions of people in my life. From the plains of South Africa,  where I grew up to the streets in London and California, in between the high rise buildings of New York City.

I remember thinking about all of those faces that I have already passed in my life that I will never even remember or see again. It was one of these moments, being surrounded by people I do not know, that I took a step out of where I was and looked at myself and my surroundings from an outsider’s perspective.

Each of those people who were around me were frowning, or looking down, with blank expressions being weighed down with the stresses and weight of the things they have to deal with in their lives. Each of those people has their own stories and struggles and sadness that have prevented them from walking around in their world with eager eyes and a face lit up by a smile.

I looked at every man, women and child around me and I felt sorry for them because they were serious, sad, angry, and feeling all these emotions except for happiness. They were so conceded with their own lives that they were not able to enjoy the present state in which they were in. I saw all of this, and I felt so sorry for them because it was as if these strangers were not even alive.

I looked at myself in that moment and I realized I was exactly the same. I was just a person with my own story. My sadness, struggles, and past was like a person standing behind me with his hands on my shoulders guiding me around the world weighing me down and forcing me to walk with my head down, eyes cast away, and smiles completely gone.

It was here that I realized that the thing that every person is held down by is the darkness within them. Walking around at a local farmers market is like standing at a funeral. It is as if every person that walks alone is dead; simply walking around with no happiness or glitter in their eyes. Just people fixed on thinking about their problems and lives as if they have no way to be happy. It was in this moment that I realized that I could be different. I didn’t have to be unhappy and when I looked around with this new view, I was determined to not be just another sad story in this world.

I knew I could be alive and I knew I could see things for what they were and try to change for the better. The only way I knew that was possible is by traveling. I travel because I don’t want to have my problems, past, and thoughts drowning the happiness inside of me. I don’t want my thoughts to be so filled with the sad memories of the past that I forget to live in the present.

Travel is my escape. Traveling helps me understand and forget about the things that bother me and the things that I do not understand. My travel destinations have filled up countless amounts of white paper all telling the stories and emotions that I have felt in my life. My countless notebooks, doodles, and pages of words have never hurt me. Travel allows me to take a step back, out of the present moment I am in to be able to look at my life and situations through a different lens so that I can better understand myself.

Being an introvert, I have found safety in traveling because I am able to better find myself. Travel is the one thing that I will say has changed my life because it has given me the opportunity to be different, to be happy. I am happy and I am not just a sad story walking around with the weight of my struggles guiding me through life, and I will say one thing, there is nothing more wonderful than to be able to walk around in this world with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eyes when I am constantly surrounded by people with downcast faces, who are being weighed down by the darkness in their lives.

In Mexico each year, they celebrate “Dia De Los Muertos” or Day of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd. In American culture, they celebrate “Halloween” on October 31st and it’s a celebration of life! Let’s put on our true faces, and remove our masks, live life in a way that celebrates both the living and those that transitioned before us.

You only get one chance at it, so the question is: “How would you have lived?”

Credits: Thank you Ms. Shaneen Kok for doing this incredible production and photo shoot for Epoch Adventures. If you need to get in touch with Shaneen directly for future & promotional images, please leave your comments below and I will have Shaneen contact you directly. 


About Jannie V. Jonker Jr.

I am an adventure seeker of the transformation that one finds while traveling. We leave something of ourselves behind when we visit a place; we stay there, even though we return home. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. I believe traveling is a journey within ourselves, and Keen Adventures is committed to enable these experiences for our customers.

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