I mentioned in last week's post that I had a pretty rough journey to South Africa. I'll continue to pepper the blog with a recount of my travels because I want to share the experience with you. Today though I wanted to talk about change.
Almost fifteen years ago I was in a pretty bad car accident and I shattered my left tibia and fibula. It was pretty gruesome and at one point there was talk about amputating my leg. It was a rough year because I was isolated and bed ridden. Yet, it made me slow down and take a look at my life. Even before I was fully healed I decided to make a pretty big jump and move to Madison, Wisconsin. I had a friend there and we found an apartment, but I didn't have a job. What I had was the conviction that I could do it.
While it didn't seem like a big change to move from DeKalb, Illinois to Madison, that one jump changed the trajectory of my life. I decided to go back to school (I had dropped out of college my Junior year) but the University of Wisconsin rejected me and rejected my appeal. I made another leap and quit my job, packed up my belongings and moved in temporarily with my mom and commuted to the city to go to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
I graduated and immediately found a job working for a university for an International Human Rights Institute. That job changed and transformed me. It also sent me on my first international trip to The Hague in the Netherlands and I took a day trip to Amsterdam. That trip opened my eyes to a world of possibility. I took every opportunity to travel. Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Belgium, Uruguay, UK, Ireland, and Egypt.
Then I took the job in Iraq and I went to Denmark, Turkey (multiple times), back to the UK and then France. After my job ended I visited a friend in Qatar and then we traveled along the coast in Turkey.
Then my passport sat while I started a new job and had to wait a year to save up enough vacation time, but then I started another new job and had to wait a year to save up enough vacation time. Three years passed and my passport expired.
I find myself getting antsy when I haven't been able to travel. I realized why after this trip. When you leave town you leave your routine. The familiar falls away and you have to really concentrate on what is around you.
Gradually the negative voices in my head subside. The thoughts that wing around like a trapped hummingbird in my brain are silenced. I'm not thinking about what the future brings because I am so entranced by what is happening today.
The hardest part about returning (besides the full day of sitting in an airplane) was coming back to work and sitting at my desk. My fingers had lost the ache from typing so much and my shoulders were no longer hunched forward. Yet, the aches returned within a day.
It made me really stop and think about what I want out of life and how do I want my days to flow. This trip made me see that I need to be out in nature more often. It helped me realize that it is ok to want more.
I'm not sure how I am going to hang on to that feeling. I do know that I need to change my routine. I need to leave the house more and explore my city. I need to protect that time and space where I am alone and able to day dream. I need to find ways to silence the voices in my head. I need to get lost in my own hometown.