On the shoulders of giants

A couple months ago I was invited to work on a research vessel as a marine mammal observer – which to simplify means that I’ll be professionally whale watching (of course there is MUCH MORE to that than just gazing at beautiful marine mammals – I’ll actually be making sure that they’re not hurt in the research we’ll be carrying out). I’ve completed formal training, gotten my medical certification stating that I’m as healthy as necessary (after all I’m human, I like my food, which means I could stand loose a few pounds here and there…), I’ve done my seafarer’s survival training (which came with its whole own bag of anxiety and fear of death – but that’s a different story). All in all I’m ready to head offshore next Monday for two weeks. And as I am preparing for yet another water-based epic adventure, I cannot help but think on where it all started…

While I didn’t realize it, when I was younger, I grew up in a untypical household. I didn’t know it then but I was different – I grew up the daughter of a Philippine and an Austrian which thirty years ago was nothing  you’d see every day especially not in Austria. My dad’s parents were (and still are) a constant in my life, they helped raise me and my brothers, and contributed a lot to how we came to see the world. It is also because of my parents and my grandparents that by age ten I traveled further than all of my peers, by age fifteen I watched my dad run marathons always in awe about how one could run for hours, by age eighteen I explored the world on my own and have done so ever since, but it all started at home listening to the people closest to me.

My parents and grandparents would tell me stories about their youth, places they’ve been, things they’ve seen, funny (and often horrifying) anecdotes of their childhoods and because cameras and taking a million photos was nothing you’d do, every time I heard a story my mind would run wild. While I loved hearing the stories, at a very young age, I realized that the stories would never be enough for me, I knew I had to get out into the world, and see it for myself, make these memories that I could tell my parents, grandparents, and maybe one day even my children. To this day, one of my favorite things to do after my million crazy epic adventures would be calling my family and sharing every minute detail with them about what I’ve done and seen. Often met with disbelief and silence and most often lots of laughter.

There was more than one experience, where any other person would have decided to not ever go out into the world anymore, but me? The more terrifying the experience, the more I realized I had to get going again, so that the one crazy thing hopefully didn’t seem so crazy anymore compared to all the other amazingly beautiful adventures.

And you know what? The crazier my adventures get, the more I can see that twinkle in my parents’ eyes (funnily enough it has the opposite effect on A but that’s a different encyclopedia…). The more details I share, the bigger their urge gets to go explore, and it bursts my heart with love. It’s such a rare thing that you get to give something back to your family for all the things they’ve done for you. So this is my thank you to my parents and grandparents for all the opportunities, all the stories, all the love they’ve given me to explore the world. Without my gigantically awesome parents, I wouldn’t be who, what, or where I am today.

Standing on the shoulders of giants



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