Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flux Aeterna

Flannery, the miniature horse (Indiana)

I recently learned that most people fit into one of two groups: Settlers and Travelers. Settlers like staying put, getting to know a location, becoming a ‘regular’ at the coffee shop downtown; Travelers enjoy constant motion, new sights and new experiences, and they are always checking maps. I undoubtedly fall into the Traveler group.

Nick working on the farm (Pennsylvania)

I first became aware of this dichotomy during my final weeks of college, while discussing the dreaded question of post-graduation plans with my friends. I was perplexed when some would tell me, “I just can’t wait to settle down and be in one place for a while.” I realized that others’ zeal for moving about was not as strong as mine, but I didn’t register that stillness was preferred to movement until it was fully explained to me. There’s this desire to keep one’s house neat and tidy, to develop a daily routine, and to really get to know an area so that you recognize when something changes. There is certainly a lot of merit in being a Settler, in part because it all seems so comfortable. But what I’ve been discovering is that being comfortable makes me rather uncomfortable! I like living with a dash of the unknown, or a hint of danger, or even a sprig of chaos.

Rainbows in the Plains (Iowa)

I find it an interesting coincidence that one phrase that’s been popping into my mind as of late has been, “Never settle.” I intend it to mean, “Don’t get complacent” or “Always seek excellence,” but I suppose it can also apply to my case of wanderlust: “Don’t stop moving” or just simply “Always seek.” Whatever the cause of my need for endless change, the side effects include a post-grad summer filled with new environments, fascinating people, and lots of all-American adventure.

James, Lola, & Amy in Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

Speaking of that whole non-elation post-graduation situation, I’ve been asked by pretty much anyone I come in contact with, “What are your plans for next year?” As anybody who has tried to set up social engagements with me knows, I don’t perceive time as rigidly as most (that’s not to say I don’t try to be on time, I just miscalculate a lot). Based on my travels thus far, you could blame my lack of punctuality on Tico Time or the Kenyan Clock or even on the Belize Syndrome. But if you think I am going to tie my plans to anything resembling a standard amount of time as measurable as a year, you are very mistaken. Contrary to the belief of many, I DO have a plan – it just does not adhere to a strict timetable. Rather it exists in a place where time does not. (For a mind-bending hoot, discuss the existence of time, or lack thereof, with your neighborhood theoretical physicist!)

The Mighty Yellowstone River (Wyoming)

And now, without further ado, my "plan":

(Just to add, I do not know if I have been accepted to the art program yet... that would change some things, or at least my location)

Climbing through Beartooth Pass (Montana)

The funny thing is, it seems like my plan is more solid than those of many other college graduates I know. Perhaps I just need to adjust my thinking, and start saying that I have built flexibility into my plan, on purpose, to ensure that it runs smoothly and stays on track. Just like shock absorbers are built into mountain bikes!

A Sound View in Seattle (Washington)

Next up, more photos and an update on my summer adventures thus far!