I stood, trusty bag at my side, next to the catamaran docked at Split’s port, waiting. My bloodshot eyes told the tale of the night before, even though my body did not. It was nearly 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, and I was pretty sure amidst sipping the local Croatian beer and shots of Jagermeister the night before, plans had been made to meet at the ferry and take the 11:30 boat to one of Croatia’s island gem’s – Hvar.
However, as I walked onto the boat, my recollections and the truth seemed to be battling it out.
And even earlier, I had been on the beach with Simon, soaking in the warm Adriatic Sun and marveling that even hundreds of yards out into the aquamarine glittery water, my feet could still touch the sea floor with no problem, and I could see the color of nail polish adorning the smallest of my toes.
The Adriatic Sea had certainly taken ahold of me that sunny Tuesday afternoon. Just feeling its cool water rush over me as I swam out, deeper and deeper, washed a sense of calm over me. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time.
And Simon had, in one brief instance, managed to change my mindset on life – and had unexpectedly made me question everything I had essentially trusted up until that moment as fact.The two of us sat on the sand, a rarity given the rocky and pebble-laden coastline of Croatia, our heads facing towards the sun, basking in the late summer rays and listening to children scream in delight as they splashed through the water.
By that time in the afternoon, Simon and I had talked a lot about our experiences. The guiding decisions that had brought us here. His eyes, which matched the sea, had been burned into my mind, along with his words.
“I recon you and I are one of the lucky ones. There is only a small percentage of people in this world, D, that have the wealth. And you and I? We are the lucky people. We are people who have this wealth. And, as people who have this wealth, we have to do something,” he had commented. “When I am an old man, I am not going to sit there and count how much money I had, or look at a wall of all of my achievements. Those things don’t make me happy.
When I am an old man,” he continued, “I want to be able to look back at my life and know that I did something to make a difference. I helped someone. I was as happy as I could ever possibly be. And I didn’t need wealth, or a nice home, or a white fence, to get me to that point. I want to know that I did everything in my power to live.”
Today, those words still echo in my head. In fact, those words are a part of what motivates me every morning to wake up, to go to a job I don’t like … because now there is a bigger picture. Sometimes you just have to open yourself up to what you already know. I knew it all along, but listening to him, everything just clicked — the pieces all fluttered to the ground and made perfect sense.
I think it’s fairly easy to say Simon was a key player in my Croatia trip. If it wasn’t for the message he carried that afternoon while we sat on the shore in Split, it was for the people we would meet next, launching me ever deeper into my Croatia adventure.