As most of you know, I have taken a job in New York City as an School Designer, working for NYC Outward Bound Schools. Which basically means that I will be supporting schools in NYC that are implementing the Expeditionary Learning Schools model. Does it sound like the dream job for me? Yep, pretty much.
But, 4 months ago — if you had asked me if I was gong to move to NYC – I would have told you a resounding ‘hell no‘ and told you about opportunities in India. Or even 3 months ago, I would have told you about how I needed to be in Peru.
In fact, those who have known me longest have laughed – OUT LOUD (usually followed by a ‘no fucking way!?’) – when I tell them I am moving to NYC.
So – what happened and how did I end up here?
During my last month of travel, in Peru, I kept coming back to the Mary Oliver quote:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?
So much had happened during my travels — so much in my thoughts and outlook on life. I knew I wasn’t going to go back to Renaissance, but what was the next step? Where to go next?
During my travels, I sat and thought a lot. I mean, to the point of it being a little ridiculous. What did you do while traveling? Um, I thought. I wrote. I thought some more. And of course, I went out and lived. I climbed, I trekked, I sat in plazas, I tried new food. I practiced my spanish, I got stared at a lot. I met some amazing people. I rode trains and buses and rickshaws. I was scared and lonely. I smiled at strangers. I gradually let down my walls and opened up to the world.
And as time went on, I could feel myself change. I could sense the openness and courage – when I wasn’t so scared to try new things. When I became comfortable in my own skin and started to love traveling by myself. When I loved sharing a laugh with a stranger. When I was so authentically and truly myself with other people. And it was beautiful and wonderful and made me laugh and smile at the world.
As I sensed this change, I cherished it. And became terrified to loose it. So, I started to name the kind of life I wanted to live. Like a sculptor working with clay, I took the amorphous blob of stuff and started to give it form and shape, dimensions and depth. And slowly, out of the jumble of ideas, I started to give shape to the exact life I wanted to live. And on of the biggest ideas that I kept coming back to was this: I do not want to live a mediocre life. I do not want to sacrifice my happiness.
In this one ‘wild and precious life’, I want greatness and beauty and adventure and love.
Adventure. It kept coming back to that – how alive I felt staring out to the train as I traveled down the Indian coast. How alive I felt trekking through Patagonia. How alive I felt sitting in the plaza at sunset in Cusco. And so I knew, there was no other way for me to live my life from now on – adventure had to be part of it.
So, when the opportunity for New York City came up – though it not the wilderness I crave – it is certainly the wildnessI crave. As I started to think about it, I realized that this, too, would be an adventure.
And so, having a new-found courage in my ability to take on adventures and figure out how to navigate the world — I am ready to try this new adventure. So, here I am – figuring it out, learning how to get around.
My travels will be limited from now on — getting from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Manhattan to Queens. But, I think that the adventures will be just as rich and just as important in my journey.