What a New Year Means to a Traveler

Do you know where we were a year ago today?

This is a game my family plays. Actually, this is just a common sentence equation my parents throw around, about which my brother and I like to joke. Whether we recall where we were last month or dream of our future location a week away, the Clarks can often be found discussing their coordinates except where they are in the present.

Today, I'm sporting my genes and recalling my exact location at the 2010 New Year: on the Pacific Harbour beach in Fiji, taking a break from an exhausting project. Don't worry; I have a purpose for this nostalgia.

The Weight of Time and Place

As the last sun set its rays in my 2009, I sat at a bar on the beach in Fiji, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and its shark-ridden waters. I awaited a Fiji Bitter, observed the actions of the gap year enthusiasts, and looked forward to experiencing the first time zone of a new decade. The raw flesh on my chest burned from a recent application of aloe vera. I wore a shirt from the thrift store, valued at $0.25 Fijian. I was taking a break with Garrett from our beloved Nakavika Project, a cause that now only exists on a website, in a dispensary, and in the minds of its crippled founders.

Lindsay on New Year's Eve at Uprising in Fiji, sitting beside the ocean
Lindsay on New Year's Eve at Uprising in Fiji, sitting beside the ocean

As I sit here in my new apartment in New York City - nibbling on chocolates, watching Michael Palin's Himalaya, and sitting on a comfy couch - I'm having a hard time dealing with time and my luck in having the luxury of varied circumstances.

Since last year, I've experienced crazy mobility: flying all over the United States, gaining meaningful employment without lifting a finger, journeying to Mexico and back to my home town, and moving my residence to the city of superlatives. For the majority of the villagers in Nakavika, their locations have not changed. For the majority of world citizens, their experiences aren't as numerous or extravagant. I feel simultaneously privileged and unworthy. Simultaneously, I praise and feel slapped around by time.

The New Year's Marking of Time

New Year's Eve 2011 in New York City, Lindsay
New Year's Eve 2011 in New York City, Lindsay

To me, marking time - and recalling time - immediately spurs on an awareness of life and its silly games. You can be here at one time, and later your story has the ability to change. I'm sitting here on this New Year's Eve knowing that a year ago I wasn't yet aware of my new career as a film producer. Two years ago, I celebrated with friends, wishing for my first big break. Three years ago, I had no clue I would be taking off on a trip around the world by myself.

Each day after those events was a footstep toward a new life destination, toward self-discovery and a bigger appreciation of life. Time is travel. Life is Experience. Time offers experiences to enhance life through travel.

I just tripped myself out.

Throughout childhood, New Year's Eve was always an event I celebrated with gusto. Though I acknowledge it's overrated nature today, it still feels like a beautiful night where the mind receives a flushing and a chance to redirect its thoughts at something more meaningful. Landmarks in time are meant to be celebrated, for they represent the act of highlighting the realities of our present.

What Has a Year Given Me?

I like to imagine every life experience since January 1, 2010 has delivered to me hypothetical coins, their amount directly proportional to the "richness" of the gain. I'm no more deserving of time on a beach than anyone, but I cashed in this year in that respect. My coin purse is heavy with Mexican pesos and Fijian bills, all of which are dirty with the grit of intimate cultural knowledge.

Tonight, my interests lie in delivering those coins to something or someone else. I'm amazed by life and happy with my interpretation of it. I don't want to be a selfish traveler and keep those morsels of mind change to myself. Instead, I hope this display of mobility and life-altering experiences - all fueled by passion - inspires others to be amazed at their own humanity, their own self-discovery that ripples out goodness in this world we simultaneously inhabit and love.

This is my year in a digestible minute.

I don't think we're ever - or can ever be - fully aware of the magnitude of our life experiences. I once told a newspaper reporter,

I'm waiting for the one wee morning I'll gasp awake to the full realization of what I've seen...at least I hope that comes.

Ireland's Coast
Ireland's Coast

Moments from past trips reverberate through my mind hourly, and the periodic flashback to a pivotal memory can affect my body with the cripple and onslaught of a charley horse. To gather all the educative effects of your travels seems akin to philosophizing with great acuity about your own life while living it. I grew up assuming the world was impenetrable, so the thought that my travels have taken me so far is somewhat ludicrous.

I say this a lot. I can't believe I've done what I've done. I can't fathom the experiences I've had. Yadda, yadda, and so on. I say these things because I choose to live this life in a constant state of introspection, rather than self-congratulatory pride. The more I analyze, the more confident I feel in the person I'm becoming. And it's all because I've followed my passions and welcomed that which pushes me beyond what I'm capable of today.

Mark your year, analyze your life coins, and let your realizations ripple outward, because you are a traveler with a year (at least) of unfathomable experiences to share with a passionate world.

Happy New Year from Nomadderwhere!