I’m twenty eight years old and in the twilight of my twenties. When I was young, I thought I’d be married by 22, have my first kid by 25 and definitely be working on making my third child by now. I’d have graduated from grad school by 28, have a career in something that I deemed highly professional, and be a well dressed mother fucker. In other words, I’d be an adult. Instead, I was just graduating university at 22, injured and depressed at 25, and traveling the world at 28.
Life throws curveballs. We’ve all learned this lesson in unique ways of our own. Some balls can be recovered and no time is lost in the game. Some balls throw us through a minor loop that we easily jump through or over. We get around with a slight hiccup and a good lesson learned. Other curveballs go waaaaaaay out of left field, over the neighbor’s fence and the ball is lost in the neighbor’s yard and forever guarded by The Beast. What are we to do once the ball is lost?
After my accident, I felt the world had turned on me. In return, I hated the world. Plans to dance in NYC then move to Argentina were smashed. Crushed to dust and blown in the wind. I was alone. Stuck. I was freshly twenty two, three weeks from graduating college and already my life was over. I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t travel, I couldn’t even get a full time job because of my doctor’s appointments and surgeries. I went from living in a house full of girls with movement and action to living alone with nothing but my hate. I’d been stripped of my passions for dance and travel.
There have been worse pains in the world, for sure, but I couldn’t pull the blinders of pain away to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Forget the end of the tunnel, I couldn’t find a glimpse of joy within each day. A life without passion is not a life worth living.
Depressing, right? You probably skimmed through my misery paragraphs like I skimmed through the first chapter of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. So how to find your passion again? Do you go to book clubs, yoga, church or the dive bar around the corner in search of spirits to whisper wisdom of passion in your ear? Baby steps, my friend. Passions do not blossom overnight. They spend time under the soil in the dark and damp before it’s time to sprout.
My passions: Travel, Photography, Dance & Yoga. (I often joke that I majored in how to not make money during college.) So what could I do while injured? Travel – I moved all over the state of California and traveled to get to my doctor’s appointments. Yet I was still unfulfilled. I was a restless twenty year old eager to take on the world, ignorant of it’s burdens. I wanted more. Photography – I tried that for a year, but I was so depressed I couldn’t create anything. Dance – I danced in a company for a year, choreographed a piece for a show in Venice, and went to Tel Aviv to study with Batsheva. But surgeries kept me from the studio too often. Yoga – saved my life. I joined a teacher training with YogaWorks, went to Buddhist classes and found joy in life again through teaching.
So I left my life behind to fulfill the biggest of my passions – Travel. I want to see the world. I want to touch, taste, listen to and experience all corners of this Earth. Being from a suburban once upper middle class town named Pleasanton, California, I grew up thinking – this can’t be it. There’s more out there and I’m going to see all of it. I’m going to speak five languages. I’m going to learn to cook, and cook well. I’m going to teach abroad and work on farms. I’m going to sweat my balls off and cut glass with my freezing nipples. We were put on this rare planet, this tiny rock in the vast universe, and I’m going to see the whole damn thing while I’m living here.
I personally think long term travel is the best way to rediscover lost passions. Everyday is a new adventure. (Even short vacations can offer you the same cup of medicine.) You can plan every minute of your trip, every destination, every activity, but then fate will peak out its mischievous head and turn the page for you. You will meet someone while stuck outside the lego airport in Piza who will tell you to skip the sunflower covered fields of Tuscany and instead take the ferry to a locals only island off the coast of Italy. Someone will steal your expensive new camera your first day in a country. You will leave your wallet on the bus or your phone will fall into a waterfall. Such is life, my friend.
By opening my eyes to different cultures and different ways of living, my passions for life have come alive again. Why don’t we have a universal language? Well, we don’t all need the same words. In Iceland there are twenty eight different words for ice and shades of blue that we just don’t need in sunny Southern California. What I’ve learned through the eyes and ears of different cultures is that all these realities exist at once. In my walk through life, the only reality I need is the one I create for myself.
My spirit has come alive again with this realization. I feel movement inside again, for the first time in years. Everyday I wake up happy, grateful for the break from the 9 to 5 and the dull routine of going to work, going home and watching tv – all to rinse and repeat the next day. In LA I told myself all I needed to do to break routine is to make myself. But life just isn’t that easy. Happiness is not just found within, but also highly influenced by our surroundings.
On the road, the unexpected nature of travel carries me through new challenges that feed my soul. My body is reacting to these challenges, and dance can’t help but pour out. On abandoned beaches, away from the crowds of tourists, I find myself moving again. Really moving. I find inspiration to capture the feeling with a photograph. I’m waking up with the sun for a yoga practice. I’m cooking new things – or newly cooking again. I’m embracing each challenge, and each challenge is feeding my soul.
There is a passion to live again. I think by fueling one passion, the rest comes to life. It’s not about fixing my life or figuring out at this moment what my purpose is or where I will be in five years. It’s starting small. Baby steps. Start with one passion, and the rest will follow.