We moved along the open ocean with just the sound of the waves cutting through the water and slapping against the ship. It was early morning, with only a few walkers making their rounds, and I was alone in my thoughts as bright sunshine rose in the sky. I just wanted to soak it in for a while. I needed to soak it in.
The summer had started like any other and then took a turn I never saw coming that led to a new job search, resumes, interviews. It would forever be known as the summer I lost my job. Or would it.
People don’t know what to say when someone loses a job. What CAN they say. Some tried to speak from experience. Some tried to speak with words of encouragement. Two things people said resonated with me over and over again:
#1) I know it’s hard to believe, but you’ll look back on this some time and think it’s the best thing that ever happened to you
#2) do something now that you have the time, spend time with the kids, enjoy this time you never would have had otherwise
It took me a while to bring myself around to either. Here I am without a job. The LAST thing I should be doing is giving myself time to enjoy. I immediately got going on job interviews and meetings and planning for whatever is next. But the advice kept nagging at me. I can’t waste this opportunity. WE can’t. So we didn’t.
We booked a family cruise to Alaska.
The middle of July came, a time when I’d normally be working on fall plans for my job, and instead we packed the car and drove north to catch our cruise. We saw California’s giant redwoods in Ladybird Johnson grove, visited the Japanese gardens in Portland’s famous Washington Park, and took in all the foods and artistry of Seattle’s Pike’s Place, then we took off on a cruise ship for the American frontier.
It was sixteen years ago when my wife and I boarded a Norwegian Cruise Line ship for our honeymoon. So much has changed since then. Now we were back again making new memories with our kids.
Over the next eight days touring Alaska, we saw things I’d never imagined: glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. The ship sailed along from Juneau to Skagway to Ketchikan, each port offering new experiences. You stand there watching glaciers that have been around for thousands of years and it can’t help but provide a little bit of clarity, and calm, and peace. Bald eagles majestically flying overhead surveying the landscape. Salmon swimming upstream as you soak in the sound of rushing water. A couple of times I felt the need to remind the kids, “we are seeing something we may NEVER see together again.” I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to Alaska, on a cruise, with my wife and kids. It’s called “once in a lifetime” for a reason and I wanted them to realize it and take it in.
We left Skagway on the final part of our voyage to Victoria, British Columbia and then back home. I am sitting here in a lounge chair on deck 7 of the ship as we steam back towards Seattle with the sun shining across the bow. By this time tomorrow we’ll be back on land as the ship sails off to take care of someone else’s dream vacation after taking care of ours.
This summer could have forever been known as the summer I lost my job. It COULD have. But it won’t. Now I’ve charted my own course thanks to the wisdom of so many people who told me to seize the opportunity and do something special. This summer will forever be known as the summer we made the trip of a lifetime to Alaska. This summer will forever be known as the summer we dropped everything, packed up, and explored, as a family. This summer will forever be THAT summer. I won’t ever forget it. I know the kids won’t either.