As a seasoned traveler, I am not naive about the potential "dangers" of being on the road. I am constantly checking for my passport, I try to travel with a group at night, and I do my diligent research about each new place that I visit to be fully informed about the local environment. However, even with all of my preparedness, sometimes mistakes happen.
On my recent trip to Santorini, Greece, my kindle and Canon camera were stolen.
When I first realized they were gone, my initial reaction was anger. Anger at myself for being negligent, for not checking as often as I could, for not placing these items in a more secure location. I could not berate myself enough. It felt more poignant to me because I was a careful person! This was not supposed to happen to me. This was something that happened to some of my more careless friends, who were less organized and detail oriented than me. I just could not get over the fact that I had let myself down.
Luckily for smart phones, I had my kindle app handy and several hundred photos that I had taken in addition to the now missing camera photos. I started scrolling through the images from my trip, the beautiful views marred with my angry thoughts and disappointment.
Then in an instant, my subconscious served me a giant slap in the face.
In that one moment, I realized that I had been careful with my belongings, and that after twenty two countries, being the victim of petty theft was bound to happen. I still had my health, I had just ended a beautiful five day trip in Greece, and I still had my passport so I could continue on my next journey.
In short, I was going to be fine.
As my anger subsided, I started thinking about the strong connection we all have to our material objects. As an avid traveler, I pride myself on my sense of being in the moment with each new journey and destination. Yet the second my camera, the proof of "how much fun I was having" was lost, I became inconsolable. It forced the unpleasant question of the motivation behind my travel.
Eventually I did learn to let go of the loss of my items. Every once in a while, while I am crossing the street or waiting in line at the grocery store, I will have a pang of regret. I allow myself the moment and then force myself to move on. I am confident in the fact that I am a traveler for one pure reason: I cannot live without it. My camera was simply one of my tools to continue doing what I love, while making a living.
There will be other trips, other cameras, and other photos, but there will only be one life and I sure as hell am not going to waste it on regrets.