“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
— Kurt Vonnegut (A Man Without a Country) cr
It has been far too long since I last blogged or gave any sort of update about my life or thoughts. Since my last “real” entry I’ve come back to the United States, gone to Mardi Gras, regained my eye sight (for the most part), turned 24, been to Chicago, watched my sister get married, entertained an amazing girl from half way across the world, started moving out of my house after three years, and decided to accept a job in Europe.
Time is a really funny thing. When you’d give anything for it to speed up the minutes seem to drag by, which admiringly can be rather frustrating. Yet what really troubles me is when you’d give anything for it to stop and it seems to fly. I’ve been experiencing both of these since being back in the States. I’ve wanted time to speed up for Mardi Gras, my birthday, my sister’s wedding, and was most excited for a certain girl named Jessica to visit from Australia. I had been so fixated on those things I barely noticed the days slip by. I kept putting off thinking about the drastic change looming in my future by focusing on those events nearby. All I wanted was to get to those events in my life. I’m rarely one to wish away days but I found myself constantly looking forward to only those events. With all of those events now over I’m forced to look toward the next step in my life.
While I was still working in Australia I decided I going to backpack Europe before I took another long-term job in the United States. I figured it was the best time for something like this since I had a little money and no real commitments. Backpacking Europe has been my dream since I was a senior in high school. I wanted to do it during college but kept putting it off and making excuses. The more days of my life that go by the less willing I find myself to put dreams or things that add value to my life on hold. Most people will always talk about what they “wish” they were doing and I used to be one of them. I decided to never let myself become one of them again.
I wouldn’t be me without finding a way to accomplish a goal is a completely random manner. After all, discovering your passion requires a dedication to unstructured exploration. And you must be willing to take risks to see if something is for you or not. Before I took the job working on a cruise ship I had an unwavering desire to apply for any job that got me out of the States but more specifically I really just wanted out of Nebraska. I even applied on aupair.com to work as a nanny in a foreign household. When I say I wanted to get out and travel I mean I would have done anything necessary to make that happen. As most would agree things tend to escalate, and you have to be careful what you wish for. The next thing I know it’s seven months later I received an e-mail from a family in the Czech Republic, in a village about 45 minutes from Prague ( a city I’ve been obsessed with visiting for the past 2 years), asking me if I was still available to become their au pair.
I explained to them that I was in Australia until mid February and to my surprise they told me that it could be arranged for me to come over whenever I could manage. My first thought was to ignore the e-mail, I had already decided on going to Europe to have fun and see the world so why make myself work while I was there? But the more I thought about it the more I realized that this was a truly unique way to see Europe. I get the chance to both backpack, work, and live there. I will get to do the tourist-backpacking thing for a while but still immerse myself in a different country and their culture.
I picked the beginning of May because I had to be at my sister’s wedding. Originally I planned on working with the family for two months and then backpacking for two; however, after talking with the family and finding out more specifically what they are looking for I will now be working early May until mid June, backpacking from mid June to mid August and then working again from mid August until the end of October. I will be looking after two children one boy and one girl ages 9 and 11. My main job is to speak English with them and help them become more fluent. I have my own room with a balcony, and I also get each weekend off allowing me to travel to Prague or other cities on the weekends. I get a monthly stipend along with room and board. Plus I can keep my all my stuff in my room while I am backpacking. All in all it’s not a terrible situation for me.
As of right now I don’t have a for sure date to come back to the United States. With my departure date looming I’ve started to reflect on how I feel about everything that has been going on lately. And what I found surprised me. I’m more nervous for this trip than I was before leaving for Australia. You’d think after disappearing for six months to one side of the world vanishing for another to the opposite side would be simple. When I left for Australia I was ready to leave. Living anywhere but Omaha, Nebraska was my mentality (Well maybe not St. Louis or Wichita). But I always had the comfort of returning. When I left I knew I would be coming back to the same city, house, friends and situation I was in before I left. That thought of “coming home” helped to ease any worries I may have had at the time. I knew that once I got back I would have months to figure out my next move. To figure out where I wanted to live next and where I wanted to work.
Within the next few weeks the stability in my life that has been linked through my six years in Omaha will vanish. Some of my closest friends are moving away to follow different jobs or their own personal dreams. I wish them the best, but I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the true end of an era and chapter in my life. So many friends made, memories shared, and lessons learned. We all reach points like this in our lives, but most only realize it in retrospect. Few are the people who appreciate those last moments while they are happening.
When I return from Europe everything will be different. I will have no home, no set plan, and no obvious life path to follow. Which will be a first for me. Growing up I always had a plan, a next goal to achieve. But now the future is unmarked and open. I could move to California or Thailand. London or Melbourne. Our only security in life is our ability to change. It is in these moments and through the choices we make that we are tested and we forge who we will grow to become. I could be timid and shy away from change. Or I can use these new experiences to grow. I could be afraid of new people and places or truly embrace them for all they have to offer. A few years ago I read a book about graduating high school and moving on to college. There was one quote that always stuck with me.
“I have realized that with every beginning comes an end, that in hatching the chick destroys the egg, that in leaving, I leave the people who are closest to me, who have shaped me, who have made me who I am today, and that when we all return to the starting point (for we all do, inevitably), nothing will be the same…”
With all the changes we go through in life it’s vital to keep things such as dreams, relationships, and priorities in perspective. Chasing a dream or changing locations doesn’t mean you care about your friends or family any less. It just means you are taking the steps you believe necessary to fulfill your own personal legend. When chasing your personal legend change is necessary. We must anticipate each change with the right frame of mind and see the possibility of good ahead of us, instead of the focusing on the things being left behind. It isn’t an easy thing to do. But nothing worthwhile is. It requires mental toughness and dedication. But in order to live a truly happy and fulfilling life we all must embrace the changes that happen along the way. And remember, if you never do anything unexpected, nothing unexpected ever happens.