Once upon a time I was wandering aimlessly around after a church service where my dear friend’s father had given the sermon. Unfortunately I don’t remember what exactly the service was about other than that in this life we are given the chance to plant ourselves into this earth and to create a legacy for future generations to look back upon fondly. Or something like that. I know he talked about how he had been called ‘little oak’ in his boy scout troop, and that he invited the congregation to take home an oak seed to plant into the ground ourselves as a reminder. He had tied all these pieces together expertly and I had enjoyed every moment of such a lovely sermon. I was Regretfully I had not taken one of the seeds, though whenever I see an oak tree I smile and remember his words..which I think was his whole point anyway.
I remember finding my way over to the speaker after the service. He was sitting in a sunny breeze-way outside of the fellowship hall sitting around other people and yet somehow managing to be in his own world. I know I walked over and said something vague about the sermon, the way most of us do when someone has struck a chord with us at a deep level to the point where words don’t seem to do our feelings justice. And somehow, something I’d said put a twinkle in his eye and told me a story. He told me of how he and his wife had bought an old BMW bus and retro fit it to be a sleeper bus; how his friends had made fun of him for not buying a Westfalia like ‘a normal person,’ and how later those same friends admitted his contraption was superior to their, less useful Westaflia. How he took this BMW bus and had is shipped to Germany where he, his partner in crime, and a few other friends then travelled through Europe and down into Africa. How, in Africa they came into some trouble but managed to somehow load that BMW bus one to a freighter, laden with all manner of trinkets and treasures from their travels and got it sent home to Tennessee. I remember feeling so happy to have been gifted that story. I felt that this story had been given to me as a small nod from the universe.
At this time in my life things were beginning to fall into place for me. I had graduated college, I had secured a good job with people who were making careers out of my job. people who were starting families, putting down roots, and filling in their futures with detailed outlines. Something about this had unsettled my soul.
I had always wanted to live an adventurous life. Who doesn’t dream as a child of traveling the world and finding yourself in new and crazy adventures. But then we grow up, we buy cars, we pay for college, we rent apartments, and those adventures feel so very unobtainable. Unless you’re like me, and despite all the things your friends and co-workers tell you is ‘just life,’ you know there could be so much more if only you knew where to look. At first I thought I would travel nurse, after all I choose this profession so that I could keep a career while also traveling around. Then later I thought might as well go all out and go abroad and nurse. I only needed two years experience and then I could. But all that would have to wait, or was becoming less of a possibility as my work routine had subdued me and taken my ambition.
I knew that in the back of my mind there was my 4-year-old self running out of my family home down the street just to see what was out there. So sitting there, in that sunny breeze-way, speaking to that wise, cantankerous, old man, that twinkle in his eye as he told me of his adventures, jumped over to me and I knew I wasn’t going to be penciling anything in anytime soon.
It took a while for that twinkle to know what exactly it would lead me to. I found myself taking a few spontaneous trips, changing nursing departments, debating future career choices, and then that spark found its way to an email my mom had sent me about opportunities in the Peace Corps. And that was it. I was a goner. I was going into the Peace Corps and there was nothing anyone could say to change that. That twinkle that had been patiently biding its time burst out of hiding bringing with it that wide-eyed adventure-bound four-year old spirit out of hiding and here I am. And I couldn’t be happier that I listened. Sometimes you have to look back at who you thought you’d be to see what you need to become.