In two weeks, I will be in Hawaii. This seems highly improbable to me. For one thing, wasn’t I just in Mexico? And aren’t I going to Europe in May? Who is this woman who jets around every month?
Apparently, that woman is me. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you tune out everyone who is yelling You can’t do that! and What? Quit your job? Oh definitely don’t do that! and Wait you’re moving to a tiny subtropical island? That’s a terrible idea! As I packed up and move away, I heard them shouting vaguely in the distance Why aren’t you listening to us?
They might have yelled other things, but I can’t hear them from the beach.
While those people are no longer allowed in my life, I suspect a few of them watch from the shadows eagerly awaiting my failure so they can rush in shouting We told you so! This wouldn’t have happened if you had listened to us!
They’re right. If I had stayed where I was and continued living my former boring-but-society-approved life, I wouldn’t have hiked a volcano or an icefield. I wouldn’t have photographed the sunrise in seven countries and counting, or stood face-to-face with glaciers so big they bled outside my field of vision. I wouldn’t have seen endless coastlines so beautiful they literally made me fall down in the sand weeping.
Discovering new places is what makes me happy, but it comes at a cost. I have no family of my own, few close friends, and almost no cherished objects because it’s tricky moving any of those things around with me. While I wouldn’t trade this life for any other, that doesn’t mean I don’t question it occasionally. Of course I do.
We all have moments when we doubt ourselves, wondering whether our path is the right one. But there is a thought even more terrifying than that. More than any other, the thought that haunts me at 3am isn’t Was leaving the right thing to do? It’s this:
If I had never left, I would have missed all of this.