By Ethan Maurice | September 28, 2016
An old Toyota pickup that was roughly converted into a dump truck cruised a Hawaiian highway with dense jungle on both sides. In the back of the dump truck was a giant pile of bananas. Atop that pile of bananas were three guys. I was one of them.
The absurdity of the situation baffled me as I sat, precariously perched atop a pile of fruit at such high speeds. I looked at my buddy, Alex, with near disbelief. “Dude!” I yelled through the wind, “Do you realize we’re in Hawaii riding down the highway in the back of a dump truck full of bananas right now?”
We laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation as we attempted to juggle bananas, throwing them forward into the 65mph blast of wind that would push them back towards you to catch as you tossed the next. Chuckling, I incredulously wondered aloud, “How did I get here?”
It was then that the “How Did I Get Here?” Moment was born.
I've since come to regard the “How Did I Get Here?” Moment as the apex, the highest achievable experience of travel. Such moments embody the curious spirit of a good traveler and act as a sort of signpost that you're doing it right.
You see, we can't plan or pursue these moments as by their very definition they're moments we never see coming. The only way to encounter a “How Did I Get Here?” Moment is to venture out into the world and be open to the unexpected. We stumble into these moments by doing things, meeting others, and falling through a rabbit hole of events and connections that lead to experiences that exist beyond even the wildest reach of our imaginations. Such moments are stranger than fiction and bizarre, yet, epic and beautiful.
Since finding myself speeding down a Hawaiian highway atop a pile of fruit, I've mentally noted handful more of these unbelievable moments:
Attempting to climb the highest mountain in the continental United States in a snowstorm in shorts.
At the helm of a cruise ship, steering up the Hudson River at sunrise past the Statue of Liberty and along the New York City Skyline.
Nearly getting blown out to sea in an aluminum rowboat and seriously considering the option of trying to swim back in heavily chummed, Tiger Shark infested water.
Finishing a 4,450 mile cross-country bike ride and walking into a cafe full of over a hundred strangers who erupted into booming, impassioned applause.
Hammock camping for free in a remote, empty section of one of the world's most beautiful white sand beaches near Tulum, Mexico with two cool Canadian sisters.
These are moments beyond the reach of travel plans and packaged vacation deals. The only way to encounter a “How Did I Get Here?” Moment with such plans is by venturing beyond them, by leaving the limitations of planning behind.
Though we cannot pursue a “How Did I Get Here?” Moment specifically, we can increase our chances of encountering them by recognizing opportunities for adventure, connecting with others, and saying yes to new experiences. To strive to encounter such moments (yet, not knowing what they are or looking for a moment specifically) is to wring the juices out of life. It encourages a healthy exploration of the possibilities that surround us.
Say “yes” more often. Reach out and make connections. Go places you've dreamed of with only initial plans and get lost from there. Approach it all with zest and curiosity, lost in the flow of the present until suddenly you are hit with that realization of how crazy it all is and can't help but smile and ask yourself, “How Did I Get Here?”