When this message posts on the blog, I will be driving along the Columbia River that borders Washington and Oregon, en route to Pullman where I went to college. A nice little road trip to a place that means a lot to us.
College wasn't the easiest time in my life, but I do remember that there were some great moments. My Mom drove me across the state to campus a few times, and we would laugh at the odd monuments (The giant golf ball on Route 26) and hunt tumbleweed. Yes, tumbleweed! As a resident of Tacoma on the west side of the state, I had never seen a tumbleweed except in tacky western movies, so I was delighted to see one rolling across the freeway. On one trip, we "captured" a tumbleweed and lashed it to the back of my Mother's pickup. I kept it on the back porch of my freshman apartment until we moved the following year. My boyfriend (now hubby) thought I was nuts, but it worked out OK cause we're still together fifteen years later. :)
The tumbleweed story is silly, but it reminds me of something important. There are times in our lives that are full of possibility. When I was driving to college, it seemed that every door was open to me, and that I had no idea what would happen next. I really loved that feeling, flying down the freeway towards the "unknown future." Sometime I really miss it.
I think it's easy to romanticize the past though. While I remember that feeling of possibility and covet it, I don't think I'd want to give up my wonderful life for so much uncertainty and doubt. My life is certainly better today than it was when I was 17. But I find myself wondering, how can we get that feeling of possibility back?
A few ideas:
1. Realize that you are always open to a new path, and the unexpected.
2. Accept that most of your "limitations" are self-imposed. (Just because you don't want to sell your home and sail around the world, it doesn't mean you *can't.* It's a matter of choices.)
3. Refuse to settle comfortably into 'what is' and instead stay engaged with the idea of "what could be."
4. Continue to ask those pesky questions like "why not?"
5. Be willing to take a leap into the unknown, even (and especially) when it costs you something.
Perhaps the truth I'll find on the road to Pullman is the idea that "endless possibility" is easy when you're not leaving anything behind. There is no "sacrificed life" to leave when you are 17, only the permission to flap your wings and fly. As we get older, we accumulate things. Homes, hard-earned promotions, dependents, and responsibilities. It's hard to "be free!" when it means unhooking yourself from the secure life you've painstakingly built.
You may not be on the freeway with me today, but take a moment to think back to a time when you were unencumbered and free of restraint. Perhaps we can capture some of that feeling again, even for a moment.
And yes, if I stop and find a Tumbleweed, I'm going to capture it and bring it back to my room!
Cheri Baker is the owner of Emergence Consulting in Seattle, WA and a proud graduate of Washington State University (Go Cougs!). She is enjoying a week of semi-vacation and looking forward to leading some Customer Service Training sessions when she returns to the office next week. :)