The idea of this blog sparked nine months ago. What happened then? I went on a spontaneous road trip with my friend Chaga to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
Long-drive. Flat view. Starry nights. Phenomenal sunsets. Mindless, loud and silent conversations.
Eight days across Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks.
During our visit to the Yellowstone National Park, we stayed at the Range Rider Lodge, a wooden house right on the border of Montana with communal bathrooms and kitchen, and absolutely no service or internet. It used to be an old brothel where Ernest Hemingway had drinks, and where we met Ethan, the lodge’s manager.
The lodge held events almost every night: talks, concerts, or parties. At night, visitors and guests cozied up to the fireside with music and conversations. I was fascinated to see how lively this place become at night under the same roof. During the day, it was so quiet and empty.
Ethan was also the bartender for this lodge at night. Chaga and I chatted with him intermittently as he was serving his guests one night during our stay. We learned a few things about him: he graduated from university a few years ago, he was managing the lodge for the third season, he’s been wandering around the world and he was planning for a trip to the Himalayas after this season at Range Rider’s.
A brief interaction. Months-long mark.
Later after the trip, I thought of our encounter or just the trip in general very often for a while. I wondered how similar we could be back in college as students, and how different we would become after graduation when we set our feet to conquer the world.
When I look back at this trip again nine months later, I can make more sense of my bedazzlement.
Truth is, I could choose to live a life wandering around the world, but I wasn’t ready to give up all my current routine and comforts for that dream yet. It was a choice I made.
Having the ability to choose is such a privilege. Not everyone can do that. I thought about how many times I felt discontent at my current situation, whereas it was the total consequence of my previous decisions.
Our current decision leads us to the next ones. It’s as if we are taking adaptive testing where the upcoming questions are different based on our answers to the current one. We are never making a one-time decision. But rather, we jump into this current that carries us through a journey we chose.
We make our decisions, but our decisions also make us.
Maybe in retrospect, I could have made different decisions. But those decisions I made, poor or great, are exactly what made me who I am today. And life is like a river, we are always moving, changing and growing. Who we are is never set in stone. The beauty of life lies in the unknown, and what we choose to do with our time today.
It’s never about the destination, but who we become in the process.
How do we make sense of our current position? If every time we decide, we are choosing a different set of questions for the future, then we have to understand how our past led us to where we are today. We have to look back at the road we came from to figure out the direction we are heading.
Trees cannot grow tall or withstand a storm without deep roots. Maybe we need to consider how to build our roots before we can expand our branches.
Sitting in front of McDonald Lake at the Glacier National Park, I just couldn’t think of anything or say any words for a full hour. Chaga kept asking me if I was okay. I assured her I was fine. It was such a magical moment when nature devoured me in her grace and I felt complete peace at the bottom of my heart from simply breathing.
We use words and visuals to communicate as humans, but some experiences cannot even be transcribed. They are only for those who live with full hearts.
When I finally got up, it felt as if I had the most profound conversation ever. Nature is my best teacher, and she will always be for all humanity. She is patient, kind, and wise. All beings are living her wisdom out loud. In front of her, I feel small, weak, naive, but nonetheless, loved. I hear her soft whispers when I quiet down my inner voice. Every time she speaks to me, I receive it with all my senses and a pounding heart.
This time, I heard: Worry less. Jump more. Embrace your decisions. Enjoy the ride.