Here's a perfect illustration: I had tears in my eyes as I read Patti McCracken's essay in the Christian Science Monitor.
In "A life out of the newsroom – and into the news: Sipping tea with babushkas ... and other scenes from a freelancer's life," she writes how she "walked out of the newsroom and into the news," leaving behind an editing job in Chicago (along with a boyfriend, apartment, friends, car, etc.) to travel the globe helping journalists in developing regions do journalism.
"I am sometimes afraid, overwhelmed, overtired, thrilled, lonely, amazed, inspired, and sometimes a very long way from the familiar. But my days are no longer instantly filed and stored into memory, sorted by years and milestones. Instead, the events in my life are worn like a cloak wrapped around me, the deepening layers swaying with me as I move."
The quest for experiences to share, stories to tell in pursuit of some larger truth are what keep me going. I envy her freedom to explore globally, but also see ways in which I can do that in my own limited space. She writes:
"I have shared an overnight train compartment with a Bosnian soccer team and held my hands over my ears as drunken, lederhosened Germans crooned their way through three countries.
I have had my heart shredded into little pieces by orphaned babies in the Republic of Georgia, and that same heart healed by a hero who doggedly, obsessively, champions their cause.
In Vietnam, I have learned that a man really can transport a six-foot bookcase on the back of a motorbike, that a photo of Ho Chi Minh on the desk never hurts in Hanoi, and that the kindness and warmth of the Vietnamese does a heart good.
And I have learned to take toilet paper with me wherever I go."
And yet in the sharing of stories, words can have limitations.
"I have learned, I hope, that words are sometimes no more than weighted obstacles, and that an unspoken language of shared feelings and experiences is as close as I'll ever come to truth.
Ambling along in a train bound for I don't care where, I still feel the same sense of liberation that I get when I have fallen in love. Holding hands and who knows where it will all go. But isn't it lovely? And please don't let it stop. Propel me onward."
Here's to following your heart.