Every moment is a learning opportunity. If I’ve discovered one thing in my life that I carry with me, that would be it. The point of existence? I’m not so sure about that one at the moment, but I know that it’s important to be learning, to grow from where we are on this earth and where we are in our lives.
Since leaving college in 2010, I have been profoundly lucky to work in pieces of this world that so few eyes have seen. I’ve reached the far corners of continents, dove head first into cities that, on the outside, seemed impossible to become a part of, and traversed mountains and jungles that your everyday American will never even hear about, let alone see. These places have been remarkable and I’ve been grateful for each place I have found myself in, both while I am there and now that the experiences are behind me.
Alaska, Guyana, Kenya, all of these places have been so spectacular, so exotic, but what I’m realizing now, being two months into a stint living in Yellowstone National Park, is that the work I was doing was a large piece of what kept me so happy, so content with my everyday existence in these unique places. I arrived in Wyoming in early June and, within just a few days, was already feeling the burden of not having any meaningful work to do. For the summer, I’m working at a restaurant with 50+ other employees who are also being given the remarkable experience of being able to live in Yellowstone for the entirety of the summer. This is not lost on me, I understand that the public is not allowed to spend more than a week at a time in the park and I’m being granted the opportunity to be here for over 120 days. Even still, I sometimes can’t help but feel like this summer is wasted time. There is no fulfillment in seating hangry customers, prepping food, flipping burgers, or filling up customers’ drinks. Sure, people have to eat, but that isn’t the same as DJ-ing a four hour shift to the far flung regions of Alaska, or waking up early to walk four kindergartners down the red dirt road to school, or catching the mini-bus in the morning with the locals on my way up the coast to the orphanage to teach 5th grade for the day. Burgers and fries just don’t compare to making (at least some sort of) a difference in the world on a daily basis.
Having just left a meaningful job in June, and having another adventure already in the works for the fall, being in this in-between phase has been particularly trying. But I’m here fighting through it just the same.
This summer has quickly taught me how important it is to find yourself doing meaningful work. With so much of our lives dedicated to the work that we do, I need to make sure that I end up doing something with my life that I love and; therefore, I won’t find myself feeling trapped like I do this summer.
Having just survived my first two months here, the trick for the upcoming two months will be to continue to remain open to whatever I’m suppose to be learning. What more can I take away from this work experience? What are the people around me here to teach me? And, most importantly, what hikes can I continue to squeeze in on my two days off each week? Only time will tell…
Until next time, as one of my fellow hikers likes to say, Happy Trails!