"Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently. Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. And the closest thing I can liken life to is a book, the way it stretches out on paper, page after page, as if to trick the mind into thinking it isn't all happening at once.
I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."
-Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
One of my favorite books is Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. The book chronicles his road trip across the country with a friend--detailing his journey and simple yet often profound reflections on change, growth, & life in general.
I was reminded of how much I loved the introduction to this book (quoted above) by my good friend Sarah, who I was privileged to spend time with when I stopped through Denver, CO on the trip home. We were talking at a coffee-shop about my time in Oregon and all of the experiences of the past year. Sarah is just about to move from Denver (the place where she grew up and loves) with her husband to Pennsylvania as he starts work with a wonderful micro-finance organization. They are fully embracing the unknown to follow their dream of eventually going overseas to work in Africa. While I am at the end of my journey away from home, Sarah is just about to begin hers.
We discussed the craziness of jumping into a world completely new and unknown--how one minute you are completely thrilled with excitement and then utterly terrified at the next. Yet even with the roller-coaster that change initially brings, it is amazing how you somehow arrive at the point when you are looking back on it and realizing how thankful you were for the experience. Despite the inevitable second guesses and occasional moments of difficulty, I am so glad for the opportunity that I had to move to Oregon to live, explore, and truly come to love a new place. Back now in a familiar environment, I have been able to process a bit just how much the whole experience allowed me to discover more about myself, my values, and more of what I want my life to be about.
Above all I have realized that chasing those new experiences makes life so much richer. It does not provide for a safe or comfortable route at all times for sure, yet it is so worth it. Even now it is a funny transition to be back in the place that I know, and as I settle back in I want to keep chasing different experiences and new perspectives. I want to continue to seek opportunities to learn, grow, challenge myself, and explore at every chance I get. As part of treating life as a story worthy to be put on paper, I want it to be one that continues to be of interest to read until the end.