When the way you live becomes a direct expression of your values, there is an electricity to life that is undeniable.
What would your life look like if you were more accepting of uncertainty?
This is a question that I often ask myself these days. I suppose I derived the seed of this mantra from a lecture given by Alan Watts (1915-1973), one of the most effective communicators of eastern philosophy to the western mind.
In the seminar titled “Do you do it, or does it do you?”, Watts describes students, soon to graduate from college, who would come to his office seeking life advice. He would ask the student, “What would you do if money were no object?” After some point the student would decide what he or she would really love to do, be a painter or musician or the like, and Alan Watts would say “Go do that.”
Self-imposed questions like these are what brought me to Montana in the first place, nearly one year ago. I had just graduated with a B.S. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati and just completed an 18-day field course in the Himalayas for my capstone. My job as a geochemical lab tech at the school ended. My two-year relationship had ended.
For the first time in my 22 year existence, I had no obligations or responsibilities keeping me in Ohio. Of course, early life was predetermined by family, and college was an obvious next step for me after high school. I decided I would get a ‘filler’ job in the meantime until I found something related to my degree. As I was filling out an online application at a pizza place, a thought occurred: If I’m going to make pizzas right now, I’m going to make pizzas in Montana. A few days later, I had a van in my possession and I called up my one friend in MT and told her I was coming out. “Great,” she said, “you can stay on my couch and I’ll try to get you hired where I work.” Cool.
I arrived in Bozeman a week later.
Fast forward to now: I now have decent-paying job with good hours and good people. I’m working on some freelance writing and I hope to gradually make it a full-time gig. I’ve been living in that same van full-time for two weeks, mostly sleeping in dispersed campsites in Hyalite Canyon or at various trail heads outside of town. Even on days when I have to clock in at 4:30 a.m., I wake up in the predawn glow in the canyon and make my coffee before making the 15 mile drive to my job. Nearly every day I feel the rightness, how good this feels to me.
I know that it won’t always be fun or easy. I know this van will break down eventually, at the worst time. I know it will rain for days on end. Problems will arise. I do not know what will happen in the coming months, but I accept the uncertainty. Adventure begins on the edge of what is known and familiar, beyond lies that void of unknowing. When the way you live becomes a direct expression of your values, when you start living the life that you envisioned, there is an electricity that is undeniable. Never have I felt so liberated.