I don’t know what tomorrow will bring for me. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next week, next month, or next year. I don’t know which continent I’ll be living on. I don’t know if I’ll still be traveling. I don’t know what kind of job I will have. I don’t know what I’ll have for dinner tonight. I don’t know where I’ll be sleeping next week. I don’t know the ultimate reward of this pursuit in South America. I don’t know how I’ll make money here in Chile. I don’t know a lot of things.
And it’s beautiful. I am enthralled by the potential of uncertainty.
This uncertainty means I am in control. This uncertainty means that it is up to me, as “the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.” In a future of uncertainty, one thing remains certain: Possibility.
Uncertainty can be frightening. Uncertainty can be intimidating. Uncertainty isn’t for everyone. Some people want stability. Some people want to travel down the well-worn path. Others want to go where this is no path and leave a trail. Others aren’t made for a life of doing what has already been done.
Uncertainty can be difficult. It is tough to pursue a path which has no pre-packaged ending. Starting a pursuit like this and a creative project like this doesn’t offer a 401(k) and a twice monthly paycheck. It can be unnerving, thinking about the possibility of going broke in South America.
Last night I lost my job here in Chile due to a work visa situation. The “situation” being that I have no work visa… So today I begin the process of navigating the bureaucratic Chilean Ministry of Labor for a work visa. While I also explore other options of creating online content for other websites for some cash. It’s time to get creative and find a solution.
Time to replace the fear of the unknown with an appreciation for my own autonomy.
It is much easier to adopt a pre-determined pattern with rigid structure and listen to people warning from the sidelines about the dangers of veering from the path. As a college graduate, the path most often prescribed is to get an office job after graduating, find an apartment, save up for a leased pseudo-luxury car, and settle down into the all-to-foreseeable next 40 years. Those things offer a comforting degree of certainty. And it is far from my aim to disparage anyone seeking that future for themselves. Rather, my goal is to encourage those who have an itch to pursue the peculiar, the unknown, to go for it. After a few “failures” along the way; namely: Inglés Con Russ (a freelance english tutoring program I’ve yet to get going) and losing a job in Reñaca. I’ve begun to understand and internalize the quote by Albert Einstein.
Failing at something is the flip side of a victory: The Victory of Risk. Where there is no risk, there is neither failure nor success. Show me someone who has never failed at anything and I will show you someone who has never truly succeeded. To me, the greatest risk of all is to wait too long to pursue a dream and over time that dream become extinguished and the creative, vibrant fire within a person die along with it.
One of the best books I’ve read, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, is about a young shepherd boy with a dream for traveling to the Egyptian pyramids. Along his journey to the pyramids he meets a lovely young girl at a desert oasis and falls in love with her. He deliberates within himself arduously and for days on whether or not to continue to pursue his dream of going to the pyramids or to stay in the oasis with the girl that he loves. In the same desert oasis, lives The Alchemist. The shepherd boy finds the alchemist and seeks advice on what he should do, explaining his love for the girl, the future they could have together, the success he would have in the oasis selling sheep to travelers, as well as, his dream that conflicts with that path. The response by the alchemist is as follows…
“Well, what if I decide to stay?”, says the shepherd boy.
“Let me tell you what will happen. You’ll be the counselor of the oasis. You have enough gold to buy many sheep and many camels. You’ll marry Fatima, and you’ll both be happy for a year. You’ll learn to love the desert, and you’ll get to know every one of the fifty thousand palms. You’ll watch them as they grow, demonstrating how the world is always changing. And you’ll get better and better at understanding omens, because the desert is the best teacher there is. Sometime during the second year, you’ll remember about your dream. The omens will begin insistently to speak of it, and you’ll try to ignore them. You’ll use your knowledge for the welfare of the oasis and its inhabitants. The tribal chieftains will appreciate what you do. And your camels will bring you wealth and power. During the third year, the omens will continue to speak of your treasure and your destiny. You’ll walk around, night after night, at the oasis, and Fatima will be unhappy because she’ll feel it was she who interrupted your quest. But you will love her, and she’ll return your love. You’ll remember that she never asked you to stay, because a woman of the desert knows that she must await her man. So you won’t blame her. But many times you’ll walk the sands of the desert, thinking that maybe you could have left… that you could have trusted more in your love for Fatima. Because what kept you at the oasis was your own fear that you might never come back. At that point, the omens will tell you that your treasure is buried forever. Then, sometime during the fourth year, the omens will abandon you, because you’ve stopped listening to them. The tribal chieftains will see that, and you’ll be dismissed from your position as counselor. But, by then, you’ll be a rich merchant, with many camels and a great deal of merchandise. You’ll spend the rest of your days knowing that you didn’t pursue your destiny, and that now it’s too late… You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love… the love that speaks the Language of the World.”
The shepherd boy continues his journey to the pyramids and to pursue his dream. He continues on through uncertainty and that’s how the books ends: with an uncertain future for him.
Today, whether your present situation seems certain or uncertain, make it the one that you want for your life. Whether that be a life with the comforts of the known or the potential of the unknown, live the life you find ideal. Do good to others and be kind. Remember that we are all connected. As one man helps another, so he helps all men.