Hacienda Grande, Copán, Honduras
Someone once told me children know with great accuracy what they want to do as adults at 6 years old. The media and social pressures are what make you forget. As adults, most of us are trapped by a mold designed by our personal expectations and those of others. I broke out of that mold about two years ago when I realized the only person keeping me from my dreams was myself.
I was on the right track for the American Dream: Educated, working full time in a well-paying job, with a spacious city apartment, and a steady boyfriend. At the back of my mind though, in the bottom of my heart, there was a dream of a 6 year old girl to live a simple life riding around the world on a donkey. As a child, I saw myself traveling with a mission to love others and share and learn from them. Even then, I could see how America’s consumeristic society kept us working instead of living, and I did not want to be a part of it. However, at 25, I came to the upsetting realization that I too had fallen into the consumerist trap. Advertisers had brilliantly distorted the American Dream concept to lure me and others in.
I was working with cancer patients as a nurse in the United States and hosting people from Couchsurfing, a website where wanderers can host or stay with fellow travelers to learn and explore the world more openly, when I had my Aha! moment. My cancer patients taught me it was the relationships, the interactions, the learning and loving that made life important. They helped me remember my childhood dream. Couchsurfers gave me the hope that my dream was possible. People from all over the world came to my home telling me their adventures, living on the cheap. They inspired me to see the world with new eyes.
The decision to leave my job and my beautiful apartment in downtown Portland at first seemed daunting because they were what I knew and the unknown seemed terrifying. As I got rid of each item in my apartment over the course of a year, I felt more free, and I realized these things were what were tying me down all along. The desire to collect them, to store them, to own them, and the same went for people. Letting things go, I realized that letting people go often is what gives you and those you release the power to fly. Once you are free, anything is possible.
Written by Beth Ann Nyssen