January 3, 2012
*Notice the date. This has not happened yet. This is my struggle.*
This morning I left Juan’s house in Ecuador to continue my journey. What most of my readers don’t know is that ever since mid-December I have been seriously considering not doing the trip home and heading back to Ollantaytambo. Things came up and it turned out I am really needed there.
I headed from his house out to the Pan-American. I stared at the road in front of me. It was just one of a thousand that I have already faced. But that crossroads meant so much more.
Left or right?
Most people’s lives are a culmination of tiny choices. It could be a short conversation, the exchange of business cards, the filling out of a couple applications for college, or a chance meeting with a stranger; they are small, seemingly meaningless choices that end up directing you to places you would never thought you would go. But once in awhile, maybe only several times in your lifetime, you are faced with a choice that in a single moment you know will transform the remainder of your life.
This was that moment.
Left meant the journey home. It would be the adventure of a lifetime. I would meet dozens, maybe even hundreds of new people. I would visit more organizations, travel over the ocean, see old friends (and girlfriend?), and learn about the lives of the people in Central America. It meant I would follow my original goal of connecting my community back home with stories of how the people of Central America are a kind and wonderful people. I would be able to see that the drug wars have not claimed their daily life. I would challenge myself everyday to travel and learn. It also would hold more danger as I would be racking up many more miles on the motorcycle. It meant much, much more solitude as I would be spending long days alone with my thoughts while churning out mile after mile through the beauty that was the road home. I am tired of spending my life going through so many amazing experiences by myself, but exploring the world has changed my life so much. It also meant that I would be committing my life back to Grand Haven, and the connections I made in Peru were strong and good, but not enough to make me leave my career in Michigan. Left made me very nervous. Left was the unknown, the final chapter of the journey of a lifetime. Left would finish the book.
“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to live an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” – Jacques Cousteau
Right meant I was headed back to the community I have found in Ollantaytambo. Right meant friends, family, comfort, and the continued building of a bond with the people of the Andes. I would be able to use my skills to aid the project, and continue to fight for the right to educate young women in a culture where they are not equal. I could start a summer school program for the girls for January and February. I would be working on making the new dorm livable and help organize a store to help us to start to become self-sustainable. I would also be able to aid other organizations there and continue to know those who live a harsh and difficult, yet beautiful life high in the mountains. I would help out with two more mobile health clinics, and aid in the opening of a new health clinic in a tiny community near Socma, home to two of our girls. It would mean more hikes, adventures, bike rides through the mountains, and continuing the friendships I had started. It would mean I could help two close friends of mine to start their new restaurant. It would mean I was putting down solid roots in a small town in Peru. It would mark the beginning of the end of my time in Michigan and the possibility of creating a new life for myself in a faraway land. Right was safe, yet held enormous possibilities for drastic life change. Right would be putting down the unfinished book and writing the first chapter of an entirely new one.
“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” – J. D. Salinger
These thoughts rolled through my head and I sat on the running motorcycle staring at the road ahead. In a moment it would be made.
Life on a motorcycle is interesting. Every day you make split second decisions that literally straddle the line between life and death. Choices happen quickly, and this was no exception. I paused, and drank in the sounds and smells of that corner as to imprint them deep into my memory. Anyone watching would have just thought it was simply another motorcyclist making a routine turn during the journey. They had no idea the significance that simple action held. Twisting the throttle, the choice was made.
I turned. I did not look back.