Wanderlust meets its match …

“Another airplane, another sunny place
I’m lucky I know, but I wanna go home …”

Home – Michael Bublé

In August of 2004, I had the privilege of traveling to Athens, Greece as part of a team of online editors for NBCOlympics.com.  It was one of the high points of my life, one that I will take with me beyond my death bed.

Two nights ago, I had a similar high point — a moment of enlightenment that reminded me of that trip to Athens 10 years ago this month.

I’d always dreamed of going to the Olympics.  But since the taller, faster spirits pushed me out of line when God gave out elite athletic talent, being chosen for the NBC team was my chance to ascend the medal platform and claim a gold medal.

As an avid traveler whose life work involves being attached to a keyboard and writing thousands of words each week, the combination of a month-long trip to the city where the Olympics were born and writing stories that the whole world could read was a “pinch me” moment if ever there was one.

“I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life. It’s like I just stepped outside when everything was going right …”

The weeks of anticipation were a flurry of activity, but as I boarded my Northwest flight at MIA, I felt alone and out of sorts.

By the time I got to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam for the connecting flight to Athens, I was a mess.  I was on my way to experience one of the highlights of my life, but those who meant most to me were not going with me.

“May be surrounded by a million people, I still feel all alone.  I just wanna go home … Oh, I miss you, you know …”

Despite my initial melancholy, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Athens and brought home memories to last a lifetime — not to mention friendships that have carried me throughout the years.

Since then, I’ve logged a few hundred thousand miles by planes, trains and automobiles with my life’s traveling companion by my side.  I’ve also had the good fortune to travel with friends — from Miami to Macchu Picchu and dozens of places in-between.

Sharing your journey with those you love is truly something to celebrate.

But coming home is the cake at the end of the party.

An ex-partner who didn’t share my love for travel once told me that I traveled because I hated being home.  She couldn’t have been more wrong.

I travel so that I can see new places, meet new people, and experience things not easily experienced in my own neighborhood.  But I also do it to get distance from reality so that I can more appreciate how very blessed I really am to live where I do, with the people who share my life.

Cut to the scene two nights ago.

I was on my back deck reading “The Alchemist,” a book about a young boy’s journey through life, when it occurred to me …

“This spot where you’re sitting, overlooking this amazing scenery, could very well be someone else’s idea of a vacation,” the small, still voice said.

And I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be at that moment.  My life’s traveling companion was inside the house watching television with our 4-legged daughter.  All was right with the world.

“Wanderlust has met it’s match,” I said out loud to the trees and the lake behind our home on the edge of Florida’s Everglades.

That’s when it hit me.

Our journeys to places near and far are symbolic for the greatest journey of all … our journey through life.  And our journey through life is not so much about the destination, but about the mission we set out to accomplish and what we take with us on the return trip to where we came from.

It’s about finding our truths and sharing them freely.

It doesn’t matter where we go.  What matters is what we do with what we find along the way.

I always get a kick out of tourists who stress out to take a picture of themselves in front of some monument or scene, never quite experiencing the moment in which the photo was taken.

Aren’t we guilty of living our lives the same way?

We can’t take anything with us except love, lessons and memories. Why not relax and experience each moment, instead of rushing off to the next destination?

So, have I lost my love of travel?  The answer to that is a resounding “hell, no!”   My fantasy to participate in “The Amazing Race” is alive and well.

But as the years go by, I realize that my itch to get away is not as strong as it once was — perhaps because I’ve arrived at a destination in my life where I don’t feel the need to rush off anywhere to find myself.

As I took the final sip from my glass of wine,  I looked around at the landscape in front of me and thought …

“It will all be all right. I’ll be home tonight. I’m coming back home.”

That’s when I realized … I am Home.

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