Suitcase in hand, I maneuvered my way to the check-in counter. Minutes later, my trusty bluish-green luggage disappeared down a conveyor belt. After I shared one last hug with my family and waved my final goodbyes, I double-checked the location of my passport for the umpteenth time and passed through security. As I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my backpack, I began searching the terminal signs to find my literal “gate”way to adventure.
Today is Departure Day.
I’ve discovered through my journey to Hong Kong that Departure Day is nothing more than the tip of an iceberg. You can define and describe the day in any way you like, yet Departure Day encompasses so much more than ((finally)) setting your foot in the airport terminal or resting your head on the headrest in your minivan at the beginning of a road trip. Departure Day marks more than just the beginning of a grand adventure, for Departure Day also symbolizes the end of a season of preparation.
Picture yourself in an airport, and take a look around. Every single person has some type of bag packed with all of their traveling essentials. Some people spent days carefully organizing their gear; others threw odds and ends together in a rush. Some people are prepared to step off the plane and into a conference room; others have already slathered on sunscreen as they dream of the perfect beach vacation. You’ll see people strolling around with headphones in and their music blaring while little kids wander around with giant eyes as they observe this bustling new world while clutching their special stuffed animal friend. Some people look wide awake, and others appear exhausted. Every single person in the terminal around you has prepared for their particular Departure Day in some form or fashion.
Personally, I’ve been preparing my heart and spirit for close to two years now throughout different life circumstances even though I didn’t know why that personal growth was so crucial at the time. Physically and financially, however, I’ve been intentionally preparing for today since last September. Departure Day reminds me of everything that I’ve already invested into this upcoming adventure as well as all of the sacrifices and support of my friends and family. I am still in awe that I have the opportunity to travel, form relationships, and teach English halfway around the world this summer, and I don’t plan on taking one moment of this experience for granted. In all honesty, life should never be taken for granted.
I’m currently high above the clouds soaring across the USA, but I’d like to share one last thought before my adventures in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Beijing begin.
Never cease preparing your mind, soul, and spirit, even when you don’t understand why. Whether it’s made clear to you immediately, two years, five years, or decades later, please know this:
Preparation is never, ever wasted.
I’ve seen dots connect over the past nine months that I didn’t know could ever connect. I’ve witnessed all of my support raising fall into place, and I’ve met scores of people with ties to Asia throughout the past year that have encouraged and prepared me for the upcoming weeks. One thing I absolutely know for sure is that preparation always pays off, even when the results appear years later. Keep preparing; I promise that it’s worth it.