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A Traveler's Poem

With longer term travel, I'm a big advocate of doing what you love on the road during downtime. There will always be more to see, another corner to explore, but I know that for me personally, when I get too far away from myself, it gets harder to stay still and appreciate what's in front of me. So it's during these times that I find the pockets of time to write. I draw. I dance. I wake up early in the morning for a run as the local community gets ready for the day ahead of them. Sometimes a trip stays with you, even long after its time passes.

Below is a poem I wrote last year after returning to India after a month traveling around Italy, Croatia, and Turkey. Every time I reread this poem, I am reminded of the feeling of falling in love... with travel. About two months returned from the trip, I was no longer infatuated. Instead, I looked back fondly upon the ups and downs, reminisced, and felt a space filled in my heart from the ways that that travel had healed parts of me.

July 2015 was a month of discovering life's truest pleasures, enjoying real Napoli pizza, skinny-dipping wherever possible in Croatia, and throwing pretzel crumbs for the birds on the back of the ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul (this joy and suggestion was recommended and happily accepted from a parent of one of my students in Istanbul). July 2015, there were a lot of mistakes too though surrounding the adventure, two nights where I sat and/or lay near the sea when accommodation plans fell through, 6 hours of unwanted mountain-biking through dangerous, rocky, downhill mountain terrain that the GPS didn't fortell, and more...

November 2016, on my last night in Montezuma, Costa Rica, I decided to nuture myself again, by doing what I'd normally do back home, or rather, what I'd push myself to do back home, except this time, I did it in front of strangers, fellow travelers, expats, and the local people. When I saw the sign outside Cafe Organico, "Open Mic tonight," I decided to share the poem that I had written over a year ago. It had no title, but I decided to call it, "A Traveler's Poem," because that's really what it was.

With a mixture of courage and vulnerability, I stepped onto the stage. Liv Mac (upon discovering that we both shared the same first name) accompanied me on guitar.

Thank you, Liv. :) Thank you all, for allowing me to share another piece of me. Enjoy.


Untitled, A Traveler's Poem - September 2015

By Olivia Lin

It’s been a long time since I have been so open, so vulnerable.

Since a long time, vulnerable is something that I want to be.

To shed a tear,

the thought of relaxing into someone’s arms,

I find it comforting,

even when it’s harrowing to bathe in this lonesome around me.

Alone, but not lonely.

Alive, but not feeling.

I’m always lost,

but never scared.

That’s one of the things that I’ve come to love about travel in new places.

I get lost...

on purpose.

I look forward

To the next movement

The next moment

I am on the edge of lost

With a goofy grin

I bear

each cut from the branches that scrape across my shins and arms

With prodigious joy and purpose,

in search of a hard-to-find nudist beach or an untold summit.

I go days without hearing any other voice other than the one in my head.

I wonder if those cuts, that rush,

is the same rush that she… feels

when the blade makes its way across her taunt thighs,

hauntingly wretched and seemingly noble,

The blood red

spilling over into browns so thick

your eyes won’t believe that blood is 92 percent water,

an ancient paint of agrocultures past…

…I love my pain.

It no longer feels destructive. I feel…


and the pain

it’s always in the pursuit of something better

I promised myself that it would be

I preserve instead of desert…

This body,

these feelings,

these people,

this mind

for a lifetime

Of being

An adrenaline junkie.

For the first time,

every shot up the veins into the brain

feels fated,

moving me closer into an inversion of myself that I can’t,


look away from.

I’m handsome like Hansel,

I’m gritty like Gretel.

The longer I walk this trail, the fewer bread crumbs I have to rely on,

the less I HAVE TO rely on.

Moonlight illuminates

Precious crumbs,

While I

softly snooze in and out,

DREAMS on the banks of some Mekong River

I dream

of the irrefusable smiles of cheeky cowboys,

their pearls of words and on-and-off-again wisdom,

their whiskey moonshine.


LOVE me,

on most days,

and I gush it.

I listen to some positive rhymes,

I dance and do like how no one else but me can,

at every opportunity that feels right...

...and I relax

into it,

into the arms of what feels good…

...For the longest time now


the shortest wile

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