I want to tell you a story.

It was a gorgeous, partly cloudy day on the southern coast of Oahu. After a smooth landing, my friends and I found our hostel, ditched the bags, and got ready to begin our adventure. We caught a bus from Waikiki to Halona Blowhole, and then spent some time frolicking at Sandy Beach. Then, still bathed in warm daylight, we awaited the bus bound for Waikiki. It promptly arrived and transported us to our home base and all was right with the world.

Well, that's the story I'm going to tell my mom, anyway.

In reality, it truly was a gorgeous, partly cloudy day on the southern coast of Oahu. As we came in for a landing, I was straining to get a glimpse out the window. Until last Friday, I've never been further south than San Diego. I've never before seen towering, misty green cliffs plunging into pristine turquoise waters. I've never before felt an island breeze. Oahu truly looked to be a paradise.

Rather than smooth sailing, however, my friends and I found our travels across Oahu fraught with twists and turns in the road (literally and figuratively!). Our first journey out to Halona Blowhole involved missing busses, waves washing our backpacks across the sand (my stuff is fine, waterproof backpacks rock), more missed busses, wrong bus stops, and walking (in the dark) down a highway to catch a bus we weren't sure was coming. We were over an hour away from our hostel and weren't sure what we'd do if we got stranded.

I can't speak for my friends, but I loved every single second of it.

My BFF Becca and I walking down the highway from Halona Blowhole. Photo by Armaine Cubos.

My BFF Becca and I walking down the highway from Halona Blowhole. Photo by Armaine Cubos.

I loved it because we were outside of our comfort zones. Because we were being brave and learning to be patient and resourceful. I loved the feeling of walking down a highway not knowing or caring what lay ahead; just enjoying my life in the now. It was exciting and exhilarating.

I was wandering, but not lost. I wasn't thinking about our destination, but the journey.

It's no secret that my favorite author and storyteller is J.R.R. Tolkien. The man remains the master of the fantasy genre for countless reasons. For decades he has continued to capture the hearts and imaginations of wanderers the world over. His writing and characters are an inspiration for me in so many ways. 

"Not all those who wander are lost." I'd gladly join the legions who've gotten this quote as a tattoo if my father wasn't so vehemently opposed to the idea. Essentially, it reminds us that life is a journey. Even if you're not sure where you're at or where you're going, there's a purpose behind it all. Initially born out of a desire to categorize all my Instagram spam under one hashtag, #WanderingNotLost has quickly become a symbol for so much more. It's not a hashtag; it's a lifestyle.

Our time in Oahu was spent comparing various beaches, hiking up to Moana Falls, eating pineapples, and soaking up the sun. Eventually my companions had to return home, and I found myself alone. I didn't have work to do, I didn't have plans made. I was completely and utterly free to do whatever I wanted.

So, I wandered.

I bussed out to the world-renowned Lanikai Beach and spent some time with my own thoughts. When I prepared to leave, I found that my phone was down to 1% battery. Challenge accepted. I used that remaining time to glance at my bus route. My options were to either wait for an hour in the neighborhood by the beach or walk forty minutes back to the town's business district. I memorized the map as best I could because my phone's time with me was fleeting.

Hitching my backpack up as my phone powered down, I started the walk to town. Beautiful homes and densely green, mist-shrouded mountains towered to my left; more quaint homes and ocean views were to my right. It wasn't easy either; Lanikai is a residential beach with no public bathrooms. I was wet, cold, and I had to go. When I finally found a bathroom I accidentally pinched my finger in the door so hard it cut me. But I didn't let it dampen my spirits. I felt more alive and free than ever before. That walk is an experience I'll never forget.

One last thought for all of you. This week I penned a motto for myself that I hope to carry with me for many years to come. These three commandments encapsulate everything I strive for, and I hope that they resonate with you as well.

Design everything.

There's some specific implications to this one that apply to me as a designer, but there's a broader meaning for all of you. In everything you do, do it with purpose and passion. Avoid aimlessness, and avoid apathy. Design requires searching for depth and meaning in everything, constantly working to communicate well with others and deliver messages with a distinct purpose. This is your life: design the life you want to live.

Explore everywhere.

Be curious. Be adventurous. Put your cell phone down. Everywhere you go, keep your eyes open and experience the world around you. Even the town you've lived in your whole life can yield new secrets and experiences if you let it. The world is an incredible place. Explore everywhere you go.

Love everyone.

This one is so simple yet so incredibly profound. Love is the most powerful action in the world. I'm not talking about Disney-esque first kisses and romance. I'm talking about real, raw, sincere love-with-a-capitol-L-Love between two human beings. As a Christian, I find that love in God. But hoarding it for myself is wrong. Love is meant to be shared. We all know that for every beautiful thing in our world, there is something equally dark and troubling. Destroy those things with love. Smile at everyone you meet. Be kind.

Design everything. Explore everywhere. Love everyone.


PS: Tonight I'm getting on a plane to a place that's 4,391 miles away. Signing off from Oahu, Mahalo for reading! :)

PPS. Follow me on Instagram @Sincerely.Gina for more travel pics.