One Day in St. Thomas, This Happened…
Playing in Magen’s Bay
This past winter I remembered what it was like to play with absolute abandon. I was in St. Thomas as part of a work cruise and was at Magens Bay. My company was managing a conference onboard the Norwegian Epic and as a reward for our hard work on the ship our President arranged for all of us to be transported to Magens Bay while we were in port. Magens Bay is often on lists for best beaches in the world, and though it was a bit of a cloudy day, the curving crescent of the beach framing the sparkling ocean didn’t disappoint.
After having spent several days straight with my co-workers I needed a respite. After swimming around for a bit I took off walking down the beach. It felt so nice to be on my own that I kept walking, past the busy tiki-inspired bar, past a little lagoon stream that I leaped over, and past a six person wedding under the tropical trees bordering the beach. I kept walking until I realized I was almost to the rocky end of the bay. People passed me who had just come from there and I saw that with their departure, the beach before me was empty. I decided to walk to the end. When I got there, I turned around and nobody was behind me. In fact everyone, even the wedding party, was now little dots. Due to the impending rain (it would start pouring 45 minutes later) the beach was emptier than usual. I had this little part of this tropical paradise all to myself.
Which never happens.
So I did what I hadn’t done in a long time. I danced in the waves and skipped around them and splashed in the water with absolute and utter abandonment. I was just a dot to everyone. They couldn’t see what a dork I was being or that I was acting like I was 5-years old. So I twirled and pranced and laughed out loud in delight. I played tag with the waves and lifted my head toward the muted sun. I was living in the moment and simply enjoying life.
Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget to “play”. That even as adults we need to just let loose and dance and skip and sing like we have no cares in the world, just as we did when we were three or four and learning to skip is a new novelty that is amazing. Skipping in ocean waves actually isn’t the easiest thing in the world and letting your body revel in a new, fun sensation needs to happen to keep us feeling alive.
And that’s why traveling is so important – it provides opportunities to play and grow, just as when we were children. When we’re young, everything is amazing. I was at my friend Nancy’s house last week and her adorable 15 month old daughter, Pia, is a walking machine now who already loves to dance. We were hanging out watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and Pia started bouncing up and down to the music and then started trying to lift her leg like the dancers were doing on TV, which Nancy exclaimed she’d never tried to do before. You could tell Pia was totally tickled and entertained by herself that she could do this. Each time after she put her leg back down she would giggle and happily clap her hands. Nancy and I were laughing in delight watching her so thoroughly enjoy this awesome new thing she could do with her leg.
For most of us, lifting our leg isn’t that exciting anymore, but traveling can let us experience new things again through child-like eyes. Whether it’s the sight of the sun rising above Angkor Wat or the smell of the salty Adriatic sea mixed with grilled fish, or the balancing act of walking along the top of Hadrian’s wall in England, travel makes you experience new things and fills you with the urge to clap your hands and laugh out loud and proclaim that “Oh yeah, I am alive and I am part of this magical, majestic world. And isn’t it FUN?”
Or, as happened to me on that cloudy day in Magens Bay, it simply makes you want to dance around and play.
How does travel make you play?