Life in a Swag
I was recently reflecting on my travels since I took off from New York earlier this year. Mostly I was going down the list of inevitable questions and thinking about how I’ll respond (I have a hunch that I’ll be asked these questions millions of times, so it’s better to have a set response in the barrel).
One question that I know I’ll be asked is, “what do you think you’ll remember most?” or some variation of that. I spend a little bit more time thinking about this one because I do truly believe that this past semester has been a great learning experience. I have, without a doubt, changed significantly this semester. Whether or not I’ll be able to put how I’ve changed into words, or whether or not these changes are noticeable to anyone else doesn’t matter so much is still up in the air, but I think it’s important to consider the question.
So what was it? What did I learn? What was the number one most mind blowing, soul morphing, spiritual epiphany that I experienced this semester? It’s not an easy question to answer but I think I have an idea. This may be obvious but I don’t think bulk of the learning was done during the “study” portion of “studying abroad”. What affected me the most was what I learned from others while bouncing from hostel to hostel.
Backpackers are, in general, a great people. The lifestyle they adopt requires a level of flexibility and ingenuity that is refreshing to observe. Even if all they have to their name is the rucksack on their back and the clothes they have on, every backpacker has a story, and each story deserves to be told. I could sit here all day and tell the stories of those who have inspired me, but (since I actually do have exams to prepare for) I’d rather try to emphasize how they’ve influenced me.
Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side” is a rotten thought to succumb to, because in reality, “the grass is always greener where you water it”. No one embodies that phrase more than the backpackers that I’ve been lucky enough to meet. One man sticks out in my mind especially. When getting to know a German roommate in Alice Springs I inquired, “so you’re here. What’s here for you and what’s your plan coming up?”. He responded, “Well I’m headed west to work where I can find a job, perhaps gather oysters or working in a mine, but after that… I don’t know!”. What stuck out to me wasn’t necessarily what he said, but that he said this last bit, “I don’t know!” not with a wary frown, but with a wide toothed grin, as if not knowing what’s in store down the road is the most exciting thing in the world. It’s people like him that make me realize that there are countless paths that a person can take. In the states it seems that that is understood, but that these paths all need to lead to one place, a big ‘ol office, big ‘ol pockets, and a big ‘ol house. Coming here I learned that these paths can lead anywhere, and as long as you follow whatever path you’re on not with a wary frown but with a wide toothed grin, chances are you’re going to have a damn good time.
To sum it all up, what I’ve learned is this: Relax, it’s all good.
Now I probably should get some studying done…