When was the moment that you realized who you are, what you love or what you’re supposed to do with your life?
In my life, I’ve experienced many of these moments, from being arrested and realizing that getting fucked up everyday wasn’t the life I wanted to the road trip to the Rocky Mountains with my friends where I found my passion for travel. Both of these moments caused a fundamental shift in my thinking and instantly changed the direction of my life.
When I was arrested, I promised myself that I’d do whatever it took to get myself clean, even if it meant losing every friend I had and starting over from scratch, which is exactly what happened. The road trip gave me a chance to see the world beyond the limits of my small Midwestern town and after that trip, I saw life from a different perspective and a new way of thinking.
And while I didn’t realize it at the time, my hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park also helped define who I am today. I’ve been reminiscing about that trip in my mind, thinking about the beauty of the park, the challenge of the climb and the triumph of reaching the top. The sore knees and the other pains have long since faded and now I’m left with only fond memories.
I want to go back.
Thinking about everything I want to accomplish this year and the amount of time I have to do it, it’s time to start prioritizing. Turkey, Russia, Ethiopia, Japan, New England, Yosemite are all on the radar this year but I only have a few weeks in which I can dedicate myself to travel due to summer classes.
I miss Planet Earth.
When I travel, I’m visiting huge cities like Paris, Rome or Buenos Aires and spend a lot of my time riding subways, taking taxis and breathing exhaust. I long for the solitude of the forests and the thrill of climbing mountains. There’s something special about a bear and her cub walking next to you in the wild, about getting your boots dusty and the feeling of a cool mountain river to soothe your body after a long hike.
So, while I might not be wandering around the bazaars of Istanbul or doing hand stands in Red Square this year, maybe I’ll return to my favorite place on the planet instead.