Picking Fruits off the Tree of Life

Well it’s that time of the year again: September. A month of jumbled emotions, tasks and above all, minty memories from the summer that by brain is always occupied by.

Now let me set my intentions straight… I don’t want to be a pessimist and make this a post about me bitching about the memories that I’ll probably never relive, but I’d like to relish in those little delights and hopefully by writing a blog post about how amazing those times were, it will help me once again find myself in the utter bliss that I was prancing around in.

It all started when I dropped out of college (just kidding, but now that I ponder more on the idea, the truer it is. (Love ya’, education, but I got some genuine experiences these past months that will effect my life in a way that a textbook can’t). I really shouldn’t say “dropped out of”, because come Tuesday, I’ll be back in the realms of the academics. Anyways, did the homestay, teaching and backpacking solo gig from January to May. It was an incredible experience, and I’ve never craved Asia more since my arrival until tonight while sobbing over a cigarette (I’m not an emotional wreck, I swear. Tears of joy, people, tears of joy).

Fast forward to mid-May and I’m back on home turf. Saddened and confused, yet somewhat enlightened. I look back on the adventures that I had abroad, the unique cuisine, the near-death experiences, the locals, and what fascinated me most: the travelers. I’ll get to that later and how that particular tidbit is making me expand my ideas of what “success” is now.

A couple weeks after landing, some chums and I head south to Quincy, Washington for Sasquatch – essentially a modern day Woodstock. Do I remember most of it? Yeah… no. What do I remember vividly? That I had a wicked time.

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The Gorge Amphitheatre.

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Our home.

ImageCruising around Quincy.

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Reunited.

Okay, where are we now? Late June. I begin round #2 of staff training at a camp just a ferry ride from home, of which most of the staff have been going to as campers, and now, counselors. Essentially, it’s a whole bunch of awkward encounters with everyone: forced socialization, meals where strangers sit with other strangers (and pretty much everyone is playing around with their cutlery or starring at their food, avoiding conversation), doing skits of dos and don’ts at camp, and more. But now that I look back on it, I do miss it. Because in the end, we became one insanely large family (aw, how cute). In all seriousness though, some of the folks that I’ve met here have become life-long friends… the people that your meet in this field of work are like no one else you’ve ever met. Everyone is unique in their own way, and I don’t mean that in a cliché manner. Really. They’re either well-traveled, international workers that have a bazillion stories to tell, or have specific personality traits that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you like it. Not only that, but you have the coolest adventures with them. Whether they may be simple or extreme, they’re just all around good times.

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After the awkward stage/wasn’t really awkward all along. We were just delusional.

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Classic photo depicting an aimless wander around town on days off.

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Another day off tradition: cutting each other’s hair.

Now, here we are. The first of September, and reality has taken the biggest slap to my face. After procrastinating/sweeping the matter under the rug, I’m only enrolled in one course this semester. Coming back from travelling, I thought I had it all put together: went to the college to have a chat with the guidance counselor about career options; did my research into courses; and organized my books from last semester into how they would help me in the semester to come. Nope! I lived in a fairytale this summer, had my head in the clouds thinking that everything would be just peachy, and let life happen while I was chasing it as it sped away. Come late July, and I finally register for courses. My bad. Now I’m kicking myself in the stomach because I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk – one of my biggest pet peeves. All I can look at for this semester is potential to capitalize on other things: working, getting back into guitar (did I mention I played for 8 years and stopped as soon as I started going to school?), and working on an art portfolio. Again, these are just words, but I feel like that by somehow electronically submitting these plans, I’ve made a promise to the world-wide web and myself that this will happen.

Ah, now here’s the perfect opportunity to tell y’all how I found meeting other travelers when I was trekking overseas, one of the most fascinating aspects of my SE Asian experience. What I observed was that everyone was coming from different backgrounds, and as part of those backgrounds, came a different set of ideas of “success”. Just for example, when meeting other explorers, whether it be at the hostel in Laos, a beach in Thailand, or a restaurant in Cambodia, when I gave them the low down on my education background, the responses were “wow”, “cool”, “good on you”, etc., and I loved it! Finally… a world where picking at the fruits of the academic tree and taking a little bite of every one wasn’t shameful or didn’t label you as “undecided” (and even so, “undecided” shouldn’t be a bad thing). I was lucky enough to meet people who were workers at grocery stores back home in Sweden, doctors from Alberta, art history students in Dusseldorf, NGO workers from Australia teaming up with Cambodians, and everything else in between. What I’m trying to say is: who says that the 10 years that you “wasted” of your life on learning more about the world around you, meeting new people, following your passion(s), doing personal research on a global issue you want to change, studying abstract courses as opposed to the classics/traditional, will not benefit you in your life to come? I’ll fill you in on the way I look at it: no one will tell you that if you don’t let it get to you.

My mistake? I do let it get to me, and I’m torn between doing the things I find appealing or the things that society, for the most part, finds appealing.

So… tree of life, let me pick at your fruits. I’m ready to dip my toes in.

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