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Love Outnumbers—Always

We were nearing the start of the Camino de Santiago when we arrived in Nice, France. When we had made our plans more than a year before, the walk across Spain was the only goal. But moving forward, getting closer, we knew we had to take the opportunity to see more. A pinball shot across Europe falling to descent at St. Jean Pied de Port and the start of the walk—that was the plan, at least.

Initially we wanted to start in London, fly to Paris, drive to Germany, see Frankfurt, Austria, then make our way through all of Italy that we could, and circle back to France for the start of the walk before venturing across the Pyrenees into Spain. And when you look at a map, when you see all the points that you could so easily hit with a train, it seemed possible. But as we knew and yet still got surprised by, plans only get you so far.

When we arrived in Nice we didn’t know what to expect. It was beautiful city, one of the most beautiful we’d ever seen. High reaching palms, white stone and brick buildings, center fountains with remarkable statues, red trams over tile walks, smiling vendors and daring street performers. It was a lively and wonderful place, but we were on alert there. It’s a diversion of the hope accustomed with travel, but the bombing in Nice was less than a month before we arrived. You don’t expect to be scared in a beautiful place, but sometimes you are.

If we could offer advice—please, don’t let that hold you back from seeing the world.

Things will happen when you travel, things you could never in your wildest mind anticipate. Things that will make you adapt, make you cautious or make you open. Because what you encounter, is a world of strangers—and that can be a wholly terrifying and beautiful thing. When you travel you’re in a vulnerable state. And with that, more than anything, you have to put your faith and trust in people. You have no home to return to, not often a group of friends at a bar after a hard day’s work. You become dependent on the kindness of people for a place to stay, for food to eat, for directions to give and guidance to help should something go wrong. But something dawns on you, more than often seen on the news or in media—mostly people do want to help each other.

Strangers you meet are just as confused or lost or struggling as you are, but they still want to extend their hand to lift you up. “Always look for the helpers,” as it’s said. They’re there in the worst moments and the best. Look for them, and be them. If you can open yourself to that, anything preconceived of culture or people becomes inevitably abandoned, and you hope in the future to be as much as the help as the kind grandfather guiding your way at a gas station in Germany or a homeless man doing all he can and more on the streets of Manchester.

We were nervous in Nice. But something occurred to us there, and we resolved something for ourselves. Anything can happen anywhere you are. You aren’t safe at home, just as you aren’t safe abroad. You have a desire to live life to the fullest, and a fear of what could happen if you do just that. It’s confusing—and you can do two things with that confusion. You can burrow yourself far enough that you’ll be safe, and abandon the wonders of the world. Or you can show faith.

You will help people, and people will help you. What you give, you can get back. Have faith in people, and show that faith. If you do, you’ll know in your heart and see with your eyes that love outnumbers—always.

The city of Nice is one of the fondest memories we have from our travels. We traversed the narrow and open streets, ate an amazing meal under a tent by the sea, slept and tanned on the rocky stone beach, and dipped our feet till we pushed each other in the cool water. It was a beautiful day, and looking back, we’re so happy our plans failed—to take us there.

Money saved can last a while, travel time takes up more than we think, and adventures come most without our meaning them to. So if life, like Camus says, is Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill only to have it fall back down, smile for both. Immerse yourself in the stress of it all, maybe even the fear—just know that you’re there, that you’re out in the world learning and growing and finding out more about yourself by challenging the things you thought make you. And immerse yourself in the moments that come without planning, the ebbs and flows of the journey you’re taking for however long you’re taking it.

And if you get the wonderful chance, take a moment to sip a bottle of coke beside someone you love on a beach in the south of France.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims in Manchester. Love outnumbers—always.

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