June 13, 2011

Long Walk Home* to Minnesota...er...Midwest (Prompt 14)


When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don't get anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we're horrible at forecasting how we'll really feel 10 or 20 years from now - once we've gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, "That's not what I thought it would be," and ask, "What now?" Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is the only virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest, and ask, "What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?" They're always there, but you've got to choose to see them.

My Response:
The phrase "That's not what I thought it would be" really hit me in this prompt, because that is how I feel each time I come back to Minnesota for a break. For better or worse, you cannot really completely go home again, because it's always going to be a place that reminds you of what was or who you were when you lived there. Not always a reflection on your current state of being. My friend Liz actually just commented yesterday how much my room in my parent's house still looks exactly like it did in high school. Same stars & moons theme everywhere. Same furniture. Same pictures in the same frames. Same everything.

But it's not me. At least not the me that I am right now.

But it could be.

And that is my alternative path. The one I didn't see. Or didn't want to see. Or didn't think was there.

When I graduated college two years ago I was ready to go. Not so much that "get the heck out of here" feeling, but more of a "there is so much to see. must start now." feeling. Minnesota wasn't an option because that was what I knew. The familiar, the comfortable, the place of my childhood. I wanted to explore, chart my own adventure, get out and see things. Experience them for myself.

Now, two years done in Colombia and looking forward to what will probably be my third and last year there, I wonder what is next. And maybe that path I didn't want to see two years ago is an option now. Or at least part of the discussion in "where do I go from here?" There really is nothing like a Minnesota summer to remind you exactly why the Midwest is such a magical part of this gorgeous country. And yeah, maybe I won't end up exactly here...but it might be nice to be a bus ride away instead of two plane rides and a seven-hour-Miami-airport-where-there-is-no-free-WIFI-layover. Just sayin'.

*Did you catch that Springsteen reference, Dad?

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