Sitting awake at 5:00 am due to jet lag, figure I make use of the time and write. Today is my first day back in the states. My lease and my job start in a week and I’m currently unemployed and homeless, squatting at a friend’s house in Bellevue.
My life wasn’t always like this. Two weeks ago I was in Europe, sipping beer and crashing museums. Two months ago, in Asia, fishing for squid east of the coast of Malaysia. Two years ago, in Houston, pursuing too many majors and doing away with sleep. Two decades ago (last one, I promise), a babe in China, being read Confucius before being put to bed.
Today when I look back at these things, its interesting to note how most of my life seems to be dictated by chance.
Take the last two weeks in Europe. The original plan (and that’s being generous with the term) was to go from India to Nepal and do the Appalachian trek. But my friend who I would be traveling with was hospitalized for internal bleeding before the trip.
He was okay but it sent the plans into purgatory. Should I just do it alone? Spent more time in India? Go somewhere else in Asia? I hadn’t bought a plane ticket home yet and decided to wait and see what happens given more time.
And then something happened. According to the original “plan”, I would be back in the states by late August, just in time to go to the burning man with my best friend. She backed out of it in the middle of the summer claiming her orientation at Columbia crashed with the burn schedule. She then suggested I come to Slovakia over the summer where she was visiting and had family.
Consequently, there was a cheap flight from Delhi to Vienna (a one hour bus ride away from Bratislava).
After arriving at Vienna (7 hours later than promised), I boarded an air conditioned wifi enabled bus to Bratislava. Being in Europe again was a kind of reverse culture shock. Having spent almost three months in Asia, with over one third in India, I came to expect things like large herds of cattle loitering on the road and masses of people everywhere. Vienna seemed deserted in comparison. Then there were little things like the existence of safety rails in highways (or highways for that matter), toilet paper and being able to walk on sidewalk without having to watch out for motorcycles. Everything seemed so … tame.
Comprehensive infrastructure and an odd adhesion to traffic regulation aside, Europe was awesome!
I was able to spent a week with my best friend and her family in Slovakia. I saw my little cousin in Germany who transformed from a shy youngling (since I saw her three years ago) to a spirited eight year old filled with sass. I visited the Netherlands and I bought German chocolate. I had no regrets.
Some of the most significant things in my life seem to happen by chance – like flying to Seattle for an interview and discovering a new lease on life or getting the times for German table horribly wrong but making a life long friend in the process.
Not to get me wrong, I believe plans are important. Living without a plan is like sailing without a rudder – you just end up drifting. But be too narrow sighted and you end up missing out on everything else (you know what they say happens when you’re busy making plans…)
As for me, having just come to Seattle, I have a rough plan of where I want to be. I’ve spent much of my life drifting but I’m finally starting to see land.
That being said, Columbus was dead set on getting to India and ended up stumbling across America. Mischieveous butterflies in Japan wreck trailer cars in Kansas. It’s hard to know the consequences of your actions. Everything might happen for a reason but those reasons don’t always make sense.