A Mid-Contract Slump! BLOG #11
Ahoy from Queen Victoria! After our tour along the coast of Brazil the voyage continued south into the Patagonia region that includes Argentina and Ushuaia. Home to the largest dinosaur fossils found in the world, I was looking forward to exploring the various ports as well as sailing down to the tip of South America where I hit a bit of a "Rookie" wall. After a low drama, relatively smooth three months to my contract, I ran into some unexpected and unavoidable adversity.
I’ve gotta say, I love doing the tours! It’s a great way to learn about the different cities and go further into the land. There’s usually only a certain number of things you can do that’s right near the port, mainly dining, shopping, a nearby beach, or finding Wi-Fi, which I do enjoy every once in a while for the occasional YouTube binge. More often than not, however, I like to find interesting stuff to do, because who knows when I’ll be able to come back! Since the customer base gravitates to an older crowd, I always try my best to grab the excursions that include hiking or walks with “high” activity levels, otherwise it ends up being minimal physical exertion, and a little too much sitting around on a coach while a tour guide gives info about the location. Sometimes things can feel a little rushed, due to the fact that the tour guides try to cram as much information as they can in a short period, but it’s a safe, controlled way to see a location for the first time. I think of it more as a “sample” of the world, since we usually stay in each location for only about half a day.d
So far, I’ve actually found the guests to be quite pleasant and easy to talk to. I can partly thank that to spending two years as a fast food manager, where I learned not only how to give customer service, but also be genuine and approachable in how I go about it. I personally find it interesting to find out about where the various passengers come from, as well as their occupation, how often they cruise, where they’ve travelled, etc. A couple I met from Oregon who love cruising said they thought they would never leave North America for travel because of their fear of airplanes, it’s cool to see how accommodating the ship can be to certain individuals. I meet people from all over the world, but I tend to gravitate mostly towards the Americans, Canadians and the Germans as they’ve been the easiest to talk to. The British passengers tend to grumble unhappily amongst themselves a lot, which is always funny to observe, and easy enough to avoid.
It’s always fun to be recognized from the ship, it makes me feel like a local celebrity as I tend to stand out from the rest of the musicians- meaning, I take lots of solos and I’m kind of easy to spot (the only Asian musician). People are generally surprised when I start to speak, no accent, and a lot deeper voice than they expect, they always ask where I’m from (expecting some foreign, exotic location) and it’s always funny to just say, “Utah,” in my heavy American accent, which usually leads to one of two things: either they don’t know much about Utah or they ask, “oh, are you Mormon?”
Speaking of Utah, the tour in Peurto Madryn, Argentina took us far out into the land (about an hour drive) on straight, flat, paved roads over the sandy, dry terrain. Sound familiar? It honestly felt like I was back in Utah again, on my way to California! Maybe they’re both equal distance from the Equator? Don’t hold me to that though!
The Patagonia region is home to some of the largest dinosaur fossils ever found on earth, and the tour included a stop at a Paleontology Museum. I’m starting to remember why I loved dinosaurs! Trying to imagine the life that was once on these old bones is both extremely intriguing and equally terrifying. The ones of underwater creatures slightly heighten my fear of the ocean, I know there’s something large looming somewhere in the vast waters we don’t know about!
As we made our way to southern-most part of South America, through beautiful landscapes and fjords in the windows, I ran into some unexpected adversity I'll call "The Injury" from here on. I was opening a bottle of water when a shooting pain went flying up my right arm. (Now before I cause any alarm, fast forward to when I’m writing this, and I have fully understood what caused the injury and am confident I will heal completely.) I knew right away this was not good pain, and in that instance, I knew I had to stop everything I was doing (practicing, working out, writing) to figure out what was going on, practicing through that kind of pain can lead to long-term damage. To make matters worse, a couple of nights later I fell asleep on the same hand at an awkward angle and it ended up feeling prickly for a couple of days! Signs of early carpal tunnel, arthritis, etc.
I will be completely honest, this was one of the most frustrating moments I’ve experienced since start the start of a contract! I know for an injury like this all that is truly needed is rest and time to heal, but at the moment all I wanted to do was either practice or workout. I knew going forward finding the cause of injury was vital to continuing my overall improvement, but essentially I was forced to stop pursuing the things I wanted to altogether. Not going to lie, with the cloudy, gloomy weather of the Alaska of South America, cutting tour excursions due to rain, it was a rough week. This is one of the only injuries I’ve ever sustained, no broken bones or anything like that, unless you count getting weird lumps cut out of my throat or a moment of idiocy where I did a slide kick in a street soccer match (yes I scored 😉).
It’s absolutely incredible how quickly an outlook can change. Again, fast forward a couple weeks where I happen to be reading a book called, “The Happiness Advantage,” by Shawn Achor (a perfect book that appeared at the perfect time), where I read about how the most successful people rely on building resilient happiness in their own careers, businesses and the people around them and how the wrong attitude can turn even true paradise into a living hell. For a moment I slipped, in that frustrating moment I got injured I unintentionally had a brief switch where I made things seem worse than they were.
How did I try to cope with my frustrations? Reading! But there’s waaaay too much time for that here, and unfortunately this happened when we had a bunch of sea days. Looking back, I think I read the entire Hunger Game series in a matter of three days, as well as watched two or three movies in there too. I was in a position of being unable to practice, workout or use my computer heavily, and the ship was beginning to feel more like being bored in a prison. No escape!
Attitude. Attitude is everything, when I arrived on the ship that’s what people admired most, a positive, optimistic attitude, and the sense of opportunity in everything. I’ve always been one to believe if you look for reasons to complain or be unhappy, you’ll find them! Unable to put any excess strain on my wrists, I started a deep reflection for the source of my frustration, cause in the end, even with this minor obstacle, I still should have no reason to complain.
As we sailed past the Amelia Glacier, they let the passengers out onto the metal beach for the day, with crew only on the deck below, funnily felt like we were in a zoo! Don't feed the animals!
I read a story (in the Happiness Advantage) of how important it is to rely on others in times of hardship, and how firefighters can sometimes only search for survivors in fires by going in teams of two. When the smoke distorts vision too heavily, one firefighter must guide the other in the immediate surroundings with one hand on the wall, the other keeps near the ground looking for bodies, holding on to the other. It’s extremely vital for both to rely on each other to get the job done, one that couldn’t be done alone. If a problem arises, they need to hold on to each other for dear life cause in the end, they’re each other’s only life line.
I’m not a religious person, but I took being unable to work on my little projects as a sign from the universe to focus on being closer to the people around me and trying to build a stronger community with my coworkers. These are my colleagues for a while after all! We’re all in this together, if there’s any one who can help deal with frustrating moments it’s the people who are going through the same weird experience of #shiplife with me. In the following week, I began to organize some small group outings, started dance parties with the singers and dancers, and socialized at the crew bar a little more, if nothing else, I knew I needed to distract myself from my cabin to allow my wrists to heal and stay busy!
It was an unexpectedly long two weeks, for those curious what happened, I isolated my injury to how I was holding the clarinet (an instrument I have less experience on). Too much pressure on my fingers and my elbows were at a weird angle, which put an unnecessary amount of strain on my wrists. Ever since I’ve focused on refining my technique, the pain has receded. To be honest, I’m kind of glad it happened, not only did I refine my typing, workout and saxophone technique (all could've been the cause), but it gave me the opportunity to stop, reflect and refocus my life a bit. Honestly feels like my entire outlook for life has had a positive push, a challenging reminder to remain grateful even in times of hardship, I don't doubt my biggest trials have yet to come.
That’ll be all for this blog, with rest and time to heal, I'll be back to normal within a couple weeks. My next blog will be about my adventures in the rain forests of Chile and the Atacama desert. Be sure to check out the Gallery for more pictures! Thanks to you who are reading! Please give it a thumbs up, or share with anyone you’d think would find it interesting! If you’d like to ask me anything feel free to do so in the “Contact Me” box that should be in the bottom right of the screen.