Yesterday, I went on a walk. It was a pretty long walk, and it was hot. Dear reader—and this is a tangent—please take a moment right now wherever you are to imagine the time when you’ve been the sweatiest. In the northern hemisphere, where many of you live, it’s the tail end of winter right now, so maybe you haven’t thought about this feeling in a while. Maybe you even think it sounds kind of nice.
WRONG. REALLY think about it. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who is incredibly, incredibly sweaty and sunbaked. Think about sweat rolling down the small of your back and into your eyes. The kind of sweaty that only NBA players should ever be, where someone really should be following you around with a cloth and wiping off any surface you come into contact with. That’s how sweaty it is in Tahiti. Not to say that I haven’t come to love Tahiti for its beauty, the kind people, the arresting landscape, the blasting karaoke on Thursdays, and a million other things.
Amelia, Noelle, Franny, and Ana smile for the camera during swim call!
Despite having spent only a few short days on island, I do love it as a home, short lived and cherished. But loving something means loving it in its entirety. And reader, Tahiti is a sweaty place. So you can imagine that on my walk, which was about two and a half miles long in the middle of the day, I was pretty sweaty.
We don’t really appreciate walking enough, I think. At least, that’s something I thought about a lot on my walk yesterday. It’s a nice thing to be able to do. It’s a privilege to be blasé about walking, as many of us are. It feels good to extend your knee, shift your weight, feel your foot strike the ground through your shoe.
It feels even BETTER to really set out on a walk, where you know you’ll be walking for a while, and you don’t have anything else to do. All there is, then, is the way your legs move one after the other, and the way your breath powers you, and the way the sun feels on your shoulders, and all the things you see, moving at a walking pace. (And of course, the way you sweat.)
I promise this is going to connect to sailing.
The boat isn’t a very big place, and there isn’t much space to walk around onboard. I mean, we’re all walking around all the time, like little ants in a colony scurrying around, but none of the destinations are very far apart from each other. Really, the longest distance is pretty much about 134 feet.
Maybe a little longer, if you throw in a few stairs. But yesterday, on my walk, I knew that it would be the last time for quite a while that I could really settle into the rhythm of walking for a few miles at a time. So it didn’t matter that I was sweaty, or that it was sunny and bright and I had forgotten to reapply sunscreen. I was so, SO delighted to feel my legs move through the world. It was among the most zen, present walks I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. I loved every single step of it.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when your last walk will be. I was lucky to take a very long walk the day before we got underway, so I knew it was the last chance I had to appreciate it for a while, and I focused very, very hard on appreciating it. Conversely, there’s really NOTHING like the first walk back on land after a long ocean voyage. Oh, the way you feel your legs loosening up! The sheer joy you feel in moving your body from place to place, of walking just for the sake of continuing to walk!
Firsts and lasts, firsts and lasts. Today was our first day really underway.
We’re in the beginning of something really exciting, really magical, something that many, many people have done before us throughout human history. This transit connects us to a tradition of seafaring that is not just hundreds but thousands, even tens of thousands of years old. It’s an adventure, to look towards the open ocean! This is what we came here for!
And beginnings are easy to appreciate, just like endings. It’s so exciting!
Firsts and lasts! It’s what our brains see most clearly.
But I want to be here for everything, not just the firsts and the lasts. So this is my hope for this trip: each and every day, every one of the 31 souls onboard this ship spends some time appreciating the fun, the magnificence, the silliness, the gravity, and the far-reaching adventure of what we’re all doing here, together. On the first day, that might be easier. This morning we had a swim call at anchor where we jumped from the bow sprit into a beautiful, scenic bay (the same one that James Cook originally anchored in upon his arrival in Tahiti) next to Venus Point (the site of one of the observation points from Venus’s transit across the sun in 1769, which represents one of the greatest worldwide scientific collaborations in European history). When it’s RIGHT THERE like that, it’s hard not to feel connected to history, hard not to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. And by the end, as we approach Honolulu, the pre-nostalgia will set in, and everything will become so fond and lovable as we all prepare to return to land. But in the meantime, we might have to focus on it! We might have to work at it!
As we sailed away from Tahiti, this place that was a little home for a time, we were all asked to take a moment of silence to send our love and appreciation to the island, to thank it for all that it is, and to honor it as we departed. I thanked Tahiti for lots of things; I thanked Tahiti for supporting my feet as I walked. It’s nice to be where your feet are. I’m so glad my feet are on this ship.