Following a dream

How do you know you’ve found something that you are passionate about? For me, it is when I am pursuing a dream. For instance, there are so many places I want to see in the world. As I start to plan a journey, I can feel the emotions and the passion start to rise — the dream of standing next to the Uffington Horse, of seeing a great masterpiece like the Degas Little Dancer, or of watching the sun set on Table Mountain. Making these dreams a reality is a passion.

Don’t dream it — live it!

Round Cape Horn

Rounding Cape Horn
January 8, 2012

When I told my friends I was going on a cruise to “round Cape Horn” I was very surprised by how many did not even understand where this was – or what the significance could be. For me, it held magic — the tales of adventure where clipper ships sailed the oceans that I read about in school. In many ways, this was a life-long dream to sail in these once unchartered and very dangerous waters.

Cape Horn, or Cabo de Hornos, is an island that is the southernmost of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. For ships, it marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage (or the Mar de Hoces as it is known in Latin America). This is the waterway the lies between the southern tip of South America and northern top of Antarctica (at this point, Antarctica is ~800 km south). The waters are treacherous due to very strong winds, large waves, strong currents and yes, even an occasional iceberg or two (no icebergs for us that day, though). One reason the winds and the currents are so strong is because there is virtually nothing to stop the movement of wind or water as it sweeps around the globe. Imagine that for a second or two!

This day was special for several reasons. First, it was the longest “day” I’ve ever experienced! The sun rose at 4:58 AM (yes, I got up, took the usual sunrise picture, as seen here and then went back to sleep) and it set at 10:12 PM – that is just under 18 hours of sunlight! It was also a full moon, so for a portion of the day, the moon was also large but not so bright. Then, of course, was the actual sailing into these waters.

Sun rise at Cape Horn

I decided to grab a space early and just sit out on the deck. While the sun was nice and bright, the wind kept things cool, so sitting on the deck included a sunscreen, a nice blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Soon, I was watching for birds, including some penguins other sea life, and taking pictures of rocky coastlines.

flying bird

When we finally got to the island of Cape Horn, my first thought was how much it reminded me of Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa! I heard a couple other people say similar things, so I do not think I am completely crazy with this comparison. The ship slowed down and began to circumnavigate around the Cape – so we could see it from every possible angle! While this was going on, one of the guest lecturers on board described more about what we were seeing (although I was too busy taking pictures and sharing this experience with my fellow travellers).

Cape Horn

We finally got around to the tip of the island where there is a small building that includes a small lighthouse and a residence.

Cape Horn

There is also a sculpture by Chilean Jose Balcells that is a representation of an albatross.

Albatross Sculpture at Cape Horn

The island is pretty desolate – no trees, rough terrain, but lush grass – and there is a constant wind. The wind is call the “roaring 40s” but can increase to be called the “furious 50s” or even the “screaming 60s”. I think we lucked out with the 40s – although I did get a bit of sunburn/windburn.

All in all, it was a truly magical day and now I can say I went ‘round the Horn! (even have a certificate to prove it). This was a once in a lifetime adventure!

Me at Cape Horn

Sometimes it is just a good cup of coffee (or tea) ….

Yes, it is another grey day in Toronto — but it did not seem so grey as I was walking to work and remembering my trip around the Horn.  People question why I travel — and it is for things like that.  The memories of the adventures, the things you see and the people you meet. 

And sometimes it is just the smell of a good cup of coffee (or tea) that can inspire you to write.  Today, I will write a longer post about what it was like for me to “round the Horn” and why it was so important. And yes, this time I will include the pictures in the post!

Actually, it may be a cup of hot chocolate today — in remembrance of the cup of hot chocolate I had as I was snapping pictures of a lighthouse at the end of the world! Everything feels brighter already!

Finding inspiration on a grey day …

It’s a grey day.  At 9:30 AM, there is no sun — only clouds. No rain, no snow, nothing to soften the greyness that surrounds the buildings and threads its way down narrow streets.  It is just a grey day.  Then I look at what I am wearing: grey shirt, grey pants, even grey boots. The only thing that brightens my look are the red-framed glasses I am wearing.  How does one find inspiration on a grey day?

Yes, I am looking for suggestions on this one.  How do we keep from rolling into the fog that appears to engulf everything in its path?

Trying to write …

… and I am trying to maintain a series of thoughts regarding finding your passion. While so far this has been a mild winter and the days are starting to get longer, there is still this natural drift that occurs where the best part of the day seems to be when you snuggle deep within the covers of your bed and sink into the warmth and comfort of your favorite blanket …

Writing is always a challenge for me, so image my delight to have this article tweeted to me this morning — a list of places to travel to for writing inspiration! And to think I just came from two of them — Buenos Aires and Valparaiso — and I have so much to write about both!

How do you discover a passion?

Many times I’ve found myself wondering what really interests me — or worse yet, I find that I am bored, restless, not sure what to do. The question of finding something that drives me, that inspires me, or just lights up my world is a never-ending journey.  But I am starting to recognize when the “spark” is lit.  This usually occurs when I become so engrossed in what I am doing that time slips away — the “monkey brain” that chatters in the background finally shuts down and I find that I am truly present in the moment.

I had one of those moments last night during my tango classes.  For 90 minutes, the only importance for me was the connection I had to each partner, each piece of music, each step — and the space in between.  At the time, I did not notice anything else.  It was only after, as I struggled into winter boots and coat that I realized that all my focus and energy had one purpose — connecting with the dance.

I think this is one way to describe finding passion.