Have you ever wondered why a midlife woman would choose a photograph of herself in a bathing suit, with windblown hair and a face without makeup to grace the masthead of her blog? Let me tell you why…
I don’t generally go hiking in my bathing suit, but there I was –scrambling up the hill on a dirt path in the rain forest, trying to keep sight of the group ahead of me. We kept climbing up, up. Every so often, I had to stop and catch my breath. We were almost to the summit of the highest point of the island.
The vista opened before me and the sudden sight of pure white sand swirled against the aqua blue water of the Coral Sea far below us nearly took my breath away. The group my husband and I were traveling with, fellow passengers on a two-day sailing and motoring trip through Australia’s WhitsundayIslands, stopped at the overlook and took photos. I wasn’t sure of our next step – did we now have to turn around and return to the catamaran that was waiting for us? No, our guide started leading us forward – down towards paradise.
Our guide pointed at the area far to our right and told us that is where the sharks and manta rays were to be found. I looked over and was tempted to head in that direction, but realized the water ahead of us was much closer, and walked forward. My husband was photographing the panorama. Others from our group were spreading along the beach. I could hear their laughter.
The air temperature must have been about eighty degrees – warm, but not too hot. The ocean was calm. There wasn’t much of a breeze, but I could sense the mist of salt water on my bare skin, dried by the sun’s rays. Everything was infused by light, like the world was overexposed.
I turned slowly around in a circle, a full 360 degrees. From the ocean ahead of me, to the rest of the group in the water and on the beach further to the right of me, I kept turning. Now I saw the twisted trees, and the steps leading up the hill from which we had come. Continuing around the circle, I saw rugged pines and rocky coastline, and then back to the brilliant blue water. The view was spectacular in all directions.
I stopped to savor the moment of complete joy. “Cliff!” I called to my husband, “Take my picture. This is what happiness looks like.” He readily complied.
One of the joys of travel is that a journey can last as long as the memory it created. Back home in Minnesota, I close my eyes and remember the details of my perfect day on WhitsundayIsland. This is what happiness looks like. Indeed.