Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's A Christmas Miracle!

"Warning, full mom alert" she said to me with a hint of laughter in her voice.  I had just met up with Ashley, Nina, and the rest of my family on a random street corner in the middle of Manhattan.  It was the first time in months that we had been reunited. Naturally Mom was a bit excited (to say the least).  And as if having the family all together wasn't enough excitement for Mom, she was also the proud owner of a new I-Pad mini.  Thus, it goes without saying that Mom spent the day in NYC constantly snapping photos.  Ashley, who seemed to find NYC city a bit too crowded, was greatly amused by our Mother's enthusiasm and constant requests for us to pose for pictures.  Weather it was in front of the Christmas tree, the ice rink, or the toy soldier, Mom was more than a little trigger happy. 

As much as we joked about her constant request for pictures I must admit that it was this enthusiasm which lead to the documentation of a very important moment.  This was the instant when Ashley realized she forgot her avocado plants at school in Mass.  "But they were doing so well", Ashley expressed.  "They were actually growing!"   With hands pressed against her mouth and eyes filled with disappointment, Ashley could only gaze towards the heavens as Mom captured the moment with the tap of a finger.  

Only later, after returning to the ship and setting back out to sea did I begin to process what I witnessed that day.  As silly and tourist-esque as the constant pictures and comments may have seemed, Mom was living life.  She was soaking up the day and enjoying every bit of having her family (and Nina) together.  She was basking in the beauty of NYC at Christmas time and treasuring the company with whom she was getting to experience it.  In a sense, she was living the life that I long for.  A life that is lived to the fullest, a life in which we learn to appreciate all that life has to offer.  As I travel about the world, running to the tops of mountains, gazing at a seemingly never-ending sea, and experiencing new cultures, I strive for a variety of things.  For one, I search for adventure, but I also hope for excitement, long for success, and try to learn from my mistakes so that I might become a better person. 

So today I draw inspiration from my Mom, who has lived a very full life.  Full in the sense that she has lived in far away lands, committed herself to an honorable profession, and acted as a mentor to a great deal of young people.  And yet recently she has shown me something very simple.  Her "full mom alert" antics in NYC are a reminder that one should cherish life.  We should not be afraid to treasure each day, to do the things that give us joy, and to take as many pictures as we please.  For one day we will look back and remember today.  So here's to living a life in which we learn to appreciate all of the Christmas Miracles, no matter how small they may be.  For we are yet to grasp how fleeting our lives truly  are.

 "Life is about experiencing all the things you find interesting and fascinating.   Just get out there and experience as much as you can.  Participate in life." - Louie Zamperini

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Art or Engineering?

A thought hit me while running in Madeira the other day…art or engineering?  This thought was not me questioning my career choice, but a contemplation in regards to the beauty of God's creation.  As I experience the exotic places that I visit I can't help but have a split reaction.  Part of me views the beauty of the World as a work of art.  Meanwhile, the engineer in me can't help but look at the structure of a palm tree and see it as an engineering marvel, an intricate balance of biology and physics.  So which one is it?  Is it art, or is it engineering?  I like to think that it is both.

My travels so far have affirmed this thought.  From the rocky shores of Road Island, to the mountains of Bar Harbor, Maine and La Palma, the combination of art and science is more than evident.  While it's physics that keeps the mountains from falling over, it must be God's artistic touch that gives them their beauty.  Although art and engineering are often thought of as contrasting areas of study, it is within the realm of nature that the two mesh together so beautifully.  In fact, they seem to depend on one another.  Separate the two and the World just wouldn't be the same.

Perhaps the same is true for human beings.  Like the other elements of nature, we too must value the art of balance.  Despite the fact that life gets busy and hectic at times, it is important that we find a way to even things out.  With this said, I am no expert at implementing such a practice.  In fact, I oftentimes end up chasing far too many rabbits and running myself a bit (or a lot) ragged (sorry Coach Bowers, but as much as you may have tried to teach us not to chase two Rabbits, this is a lesson that I am yet to master).  My struggle with balance, however is not a failure.  As my college Coach, Dave Warth, drilled into me, you can look at things as a burden or an opportunity.  Hence, I must look at my lack of balance as an opportunity to even out the scales.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Run Down

To all those out there thinking the worst, the answer is no.  No, I was not thrown overboard, left behind in some far off country, abducted by pirates, or forced to walk the plank.  Had any of these things happened I would probably have quite the story to write about in this blog.  My only real excuse for not blogging lately is that A, I have been very busy with work and B, the internet on the ship is extremely slow.  And by slow I mean 1990's AOL dial-up slow.  Come to think of it, some of the technology on the ship is so far behind the times that it feels like I am working 15 years in the technological past.  In fact, I could write an entire blog on ship technology, but let's just save that for another time.

Back to the matter at hand.  In my absence from blogging I have been to Southampton (England), Le Havre (France), Zeebrugge (Belgium), Southampton (again), New York City, Southampton (again), Madeira (Canary Islands), Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), and Tenerife (Canary Islands).  I have also sailed across the Atlantic Ocean two more times, this time in back-to-back fashion.  This brings my total to five Atlantic Crossings in just over two months.  While it is nice to be able to say that I have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, I am very much looking forward to being done with these long, grueling voyages.  Thankfully we only have two more Atlantic Crossings before we begin the World Voyage on January 10th!  I am REALLY looking forward to the World voyage.  During the World voyage, which will take approximately four months, we will travel to places such as Egypt, Shanghai, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and many other places.  It should be a grand adventure and I am really looking forward to it.

Now that I have given you a brief glimpse of what you have missed and what is yet to come, I will leave you with a few pictures to help you "sea" what you have missed out on.

 Wind mills were not in short supply in Zeebrugge, Belgium.

 I found this guy while running through the mountains in Tenerife.

 The mountains of Tenerife have been one of my favorite places to run so far!

 Madeira is filled with hills and great views.

 I often go to this park to run when I am in Southampton.  And of course I have taken a ride on this zip-line.

 New York City lights up the night!

 Hanging out with a few friends from South Africa and Northern England.

 Look who I found in Southampton...Mo!

La Havre France turned out to be a great place to run.  This picture is from my first trip to La Havre.  I was sick the second time we were in La Havre so I stayed on the ship.