A few years ago, I got a tattoo of an airplane on my pointer finger. The tattoo artist told me it would fade soon because of the placement but I got it anyways, an optimistic gesture that is rare. The tattoo artist was correct, it faded soon and now it looks like a faint patchy outline of an airplane.
I got the tattoo because I loved to travel. I specifically got it on my pointer finger because I loved the idea of it being this symbolic reminder that I want my travels to always be pointing me in a forward direction. I also loved it on my finger because I could hold up my finger to any place and it would look like a plane was flying. When I was bored, I would google search various destinations and hold my little plane finger to the screen and there I’d be, flying over the Himalayas. Then, I’d Instagram the picture of my finger and the pixelated google image in the background.
Last week, I had the opportunity to trek to the Himalayan mountains for spring break. It wasn’t my first choice for a leisurely spring break, but it was a choice that I knew I wouldn’t regret. As we took a seven-hour bus ride to the trail, I looked down and saw my airplane tattoo on my finger. Usually, I have a ring on that finger and therefore it is easier to look past but I took my ring off because of my irrational fear of hypothermia and having to amputate my finger. I thought wearing a ring would make it harder. Now, my airplane is faint but present and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it as our van trucked up the mountain.
Seeing my tattoo, I remembered how much I loved traveling and how much I always wanted it to be a priority years ago. And here I am now, having an incredible nine months abroad traveling Asia in a capacity I never thought I could. I remembered holding my finger up to google images of the Himalayas among other destinations. And here I am now, driving seven hours winding up hills and towns to the real Himalayas, not the google Himalayas. I felt grateful but more than that I was proud of myself. I made my passions and dreams a priority and I was proud that I knew who I was then and I didn’t allow the part of me that loves the world and loves to travel to slip away amidst the stress of school and work. I put those stressors aside to fulfill my passions and now my little plane on my finger and I were driving to the Himalayas, after already seeing so much of Asia.
The trek to the Himalayas was an incredible experience, both arduous and cold yet rewarding and full of beautiful and grand scenes that mother nature painted. I was scared of the possibility of being out of breath for hours but excited to sleep in cozy tents. The views were much more spectacular than I thought and the 58 kilometers of walking was much more doable as each day came. It was an incredible experience to be taller than the trees and smaller than your ego’s beliefs. It put me in my humble place: I am just a small human being and my problems, fears, and complaints were small compared to the huge mountains we were walking towards.
As a group, we listened to each others’ needs whether that was to slow down or stop for a water break. We shivered in the cold tents together and called for help when our tent was collapsing in on us. And the people around us came to our aid in seconds listening to every concern. We played games laughing loudly and walked in silence with our wandering minds and our wandering souls.
Despite a few scary moments when high winds picked up, lightning struck, and rain turned into hail, the other moments felt sunny and optimistic whether the sun was shining or not.
It felt just right to be trekking through the Himalayas as this trip comes to an end. It reminded me that I will always love traveling, and prioritize traveling and thus, myself. It reminded me that I try to stay true to my passions and that my hard work paid off in the end. It reminded me that I have a plane tattoo that needs to be retouched and I have a plane tattoo that has flown to 11 countries this year (and counting…hopefully). And, my airplane tattoo finally made it over the real Himalayan mountains.