SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 17, October 2016 - Page 67

students. We shared a meal before they brought me to the lagoon for the first-time.

I always appreciate the time before you do something. When you meet with your colleagues in-person and begin to discuss the planned activities as well as the nature of the place you will shortly visit. It is that time of unknowing which breeds an air of mystery about your final destination, and the path you will take to get there. In the case of the lagoon, I had no idea the experience that was to follow.

Above all, business travel allows for relationship building. Face-to-face conversations. Interaction taking place at both the same time and place. This sort of process cannot be duplicated or imitated, and it is through in-person communication—framed by the purpose of business travel—which leads to authentic relationships that encourage the growth of new ideas, foster cooperation, and build trust. Relationships supported by shared moments. Because, life is a string of moments. A constellation of stars that you create. Like the kind you point out in the night sky with someone you meet at the lagoon, sitting on a beach in a two-door pickup, whale blows punctuating the ink-black darkness, and the cadence of water lapping at the shore.

When your work is the telescope that helps you see the constellations—your constellation—the things that hold us all back in life become nothing more than shooting stars in our magnified view of the universe.

I am in my tent again looking up at the canvas flapping in the wind. One of the things I enjoy most about travel is waking up somewhere new. That moment when you forget where you are and why you are there. It’s in that time between waking and dreaming that we achieve a degree of clarity about our true nature as human beings, made of flesh and blood, with a world viewed through the neurocognitive prism of our biological mind. The time when we see our life for what it is and can be within the confines of our glowing, palpitating tent.

It’s a bit like that Matt Damon movie. Hurtling into space with only a tarp between you and the Martian atmosphere. Let that tarp slip away into the red sky, because it will only give you a greater view of the stars you will connect. Safe travels.

Ben Scheelk manages The Ocean Foundation's Fiscal Sponsorship Program, which involves providing operational and administrative oversight for the nearly 50 funds that the organization hosts. Ben joined The Ocean Foundation after working as the project manager and executive assistant for Alexandra Cousteau at Blue Legacy International. Ben holds a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from The George Washington University where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a B.A. in Earth Science and International Studies. Ben was instilled with a passion for the environment from an early age growing up along and exploring the Great Lakes.

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