I just returned from a cruise. A music cruise (and I am STILL swaying as I write this). For those of you who don't know about them, it's a chance to listen to music- good music- without ear buds, live, in real time, without everyone taking videos, with moments of unrehearsed jams and artists sitting in with other artists. On a cruise, you don't have cell service, or internet- and it is beyond refreshing. People talk. Hang. Look you in the eye. Stop. Slow down. Tell stories. We are all, literally, in the same boat. Now don't go thinking I am living this life of leisure. Last quarter's royalties from ASCAP could only buy me a few trips to Starbucks, but... my boyfriend got asked to play with an artist who was playing the cruise, and I was an innocent recipient of being offered a space onboard. :)
A cruise was never on my bucket list. I don't want to be trapped on a boat for a week! I don't want to eat constantly, lay around by the pool, and drink all day! I don't want to be herded like cattle to an excursion on shore and have the same experience as everyone else! I am an explorer! I'm NOT a lazy person! I want adventure. I want to be active on my vacation. I want to carve my own path. Well...my pre-conceived notion was proven wrong unfortunately. Dang. I hate being wrong. And I have to say, it wasn't really an epiphany, but yet another lesson in how you can choose to look at things in your life. I had this great opportunity presented to me, and it surprisingly turned out to be a unique experience.
We were about halfway through our cruise and we made our second stop, in St. Croix, V.I. We got there pretty early in the morning. My boyfriend and I made a choice to NOT partake in an excursion, as we both wanted to make our own adventure. After breakfast we walked up to the top deck of the boat for a birds-eye view- and I pointed to a peninsula that looked pretty far away and absolutely gorgeous, and said, " I want to go THERE". So, we put on our tennis shoes, stepped out on to the dock, and I asked a lady at the tourism tent about the road to "THERE". She said it was pretty far to go, and no sidewalks. Perfect. Right up my alley. I personally like to see places by walking, or taking a run through the area to get some sense of where you are. We had no idea where we were going really, or what we would find when we got there. But, glad we did.
As we got closer to the destination unknown, maybe but 2 cars passed us along the way, and we encountered a man who was looking for his Marlboro Reds he had dropped along the side of the road- I imagine they are pretty pricey on the island... and that was it! No one else! We could not believe that this place we arrived at after about an hour of walking, was empty! What???!!! It was one of THE most beautiful beaches and places I have ever seen. Didn't everyone else on the boat see what we saw from the upper deck? How is this place not flooded with people?! We finally encountered one family who had moved to the island 6 months ago, and said this was the prettiest beach on the island. Well...yeah! We were dumbfounded at our discovery. We were in awe of the beauty, the perfect sky, and temperature. AND... the choice we made to explore, had paid off.
We spent a good couple of hours there- a lot of it chatting with the family about what island life is like when you actually live there. Sounds a lot like anywhere else you go when you are NOT on vacation. Real life actually happens. Below is our ship from where we were...
My favorite movie of all time is Shawshank Redemption. There are so many things I love about this movie. There are countless scenes I can understand and translate to a life outside of prison. No matter where we are in our lives, we all share a lot of these thoughts the prisoners have, as we are all prisoners of something; loneliness, fear, friendships, freedom (from whatever it is that holds you back), patience, chipping away at something little bits at a time until you reach your destination...just keep hanging on...and you will eventually get there. There is good on the other side. Anyone who has seen the movie knows what I'm talking about...
"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies". - Andy Dufresne
I love so many scenes in the movie, but particularly at the end, when Red and Andy finally meet up again. When Red finally takes a chance to get living and you can feel his excitement when he is on his way to Zihautanejo.
" I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope." -Red
Every time I see that movie, (and that is many times, for many years), at the end when they show that beautiful beach, and the reunion, I say to myself, "I have to find that beach". "I have to go there". "Someday I will go there". What I know I am really saying to myself too, is, I just want to feel that freedom, that happiness of making it to, and being in that beautiful place, not only literally, but figuratively. And, hope it is as beautiful as I imagined. I think we all want to feel like we are on the right path, and that it's going to be alright. That we are NOT wasting our precious time. And if we hang on to hope, we may just get there. Well...I found my Zihautanejo. Only, I did not know it at the time, that I was THERE. That beach we "discovered"? It was where they filmed that last scene in the movie. I was there. I WAS THERE. I was at Zihautanejo! I guess there are many lessons I learned from this day, and the cruise for that matter. Things aren't always going to be what you think they are going to be like, and sometimes you just have to open your eyes, take a little risk, go where the spirit moves you, and just hope you are on the right path, and you will end up right where you are supposed to be.
"Get busy living, or get busy dying". - Andy Dufresne