In the midst of all of our Darien Gap adventures, we failed to mention or celebrate a pretty meaningful milestone in our life – our one year travelversary. You know, a travelversary. It’s like an anniversary, except with travel. We flew from Panama to Colombia on the eve of our travelversary and woke up for the first time ever in South America exactly one year from the September morning in 2012 that we left our Raleigh home for good. We never planned such a clean organization of time and space, but it worked out quite nicely, establishing our first year on the road in North and Central America, and now sending us off to embark on our second in South America. Many of my memories feel further away than that; sometimes it feels like we just left.
The lifestyle is a good fit for us. We’re flexible, happy, and interested. We don’t miss the things. We have yet to wonder or waver on whether or not this journey was the right choice. Before we left, when struggling with how to describe the what and why of a future I didn’t understand either, I often explained the new direction by saying, “As bossy and adamant as I can seem sometimes, the truth is that I am rarely sure of anything in this world. But in the core of me I am sure about this, and there is only one other thing I’ve ever felt this sure about. That was Ian.” It sounds super cheesy, I know, but it was the most honest explanation I had. The direction we were heading felt right, and it still does. If it’s possible, we’re greeting our second year on the road with even more enthusiasm. We’re growing into our crazy dreams and becoming comfortable with their lack of shape. When we left a year ago, I didn’t know what I was going to learn or how the experience was going to change me or where I was going to go next, and now, a year later, I find myself reflecting on those very unknowns. What am I sure about now?
Well, love. And moving forward. So I guess not that much has changed.
In many ways, what has changed has not been any of the things I might have expected. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel like I understand any better than I did before. I don’t know the answers to the questions that face our hemisphere or our generation. I can’t wrap my head around discernible causes or solutions to any problem at all. I don’t know why people behave the way they do. I do not have a better idea what I should be when I grow up or what my purpose might be. I do not know where to find the elusive gray line between right and wrong. I struggled with this at first. It was very difficult to feel more lost and more found at the same time, and in many ways, looking for those answers generated an overwhelming inner-rhetoric on my self and my center.
What I have found is an ever growing sense of awareness and an appreciation of its importance and simple sufficiency. We may never be able to solve all of the world’s problems or engage in conversations in which a single point-of-view is the absolute right one, but if we can bring even a small bit of understanding to another individual and their perspective, then we will undoubtedly move in a direction of peace. I do not know what should have happened or how they should happen in the future, but I am more aware that certain things, people, places, beliefs, events, and backgrounds exist. I am a little bit more aware than I was a year ago, and maybe I don’t need anything more definitive than that.