A flock of birds flew over me as I leaned back onto my kayak’s stern. The sun was beginning to set — the clouds backlit with yellow and pink light. I took a deep breath as the stillness of the pond relaxed my mind.
A new friend, a woman from Australia, who’d come to America to live the Van Life for six months, was paddling in circles about 1000 feet away. She hadn’t yet mastered paddling a white water kayak that was more designed to race down rapids and turn into eddies than it was meant to go straight.
Kind of like my life, I thought. No matter how many times I’ve tried to ground, to settle in, as soon as I think I’ve found the straight path, I’ve ended up in a spin. The day’s emotions were catching up with me, no matter how much I wanted to dampen them down so I could enjoy my evening paddle.
Earlier that afternoon, my neighborhood had held its annual block party, and I’d felt obligated to attend. While I adore living in a community where everyone knows one another and we come together to celebrate our small place in the world, it was hard to leave behind my deepest desire for the beautiful day— to seek out an adventure in nature.
I’m a bit of an anomaly to my neighbors. Every household has children, many just starting to walk or now playing with the other kids on the street. While the lights go out in most houses by nine pm, I’m normally still out a salsa studio, or with friends on the town.
During the party, not one adult asked about my life. Instead, I’d spent my afternoon being told about potty training, workloads, school systems, and marriages. When someone did comment on my life it was said, “Marci, still thinks she’s a college kid living out her twenties instead of being responsible.”
Settle, it’s a word I will only associate in one way — settle for nothing less than magnificence in life. I’m not certain where the term ‘settle down’ comes from or what it should mean. I only understand that what was being said to me meant, when are you going to give up this crazy life of adventure, playing, and dedicate your life to a family and marriage.
I’ve stood on the outside of norm my whole life. Instead of making career plans with a company, going to universities, accepting marriage proposals, and having children, for the last twenty years I’ve built my own companies, and designed my life towards freedom. Though I own a home, I chose a two family that would allow me to travel more often and take more risks in business and life. I’ve been a bit of a gypsy, traveling around the world, spending as many weekends away as possible.
Since moving to New England, I found grounding in my little neighborhood and town. I’ve felt more solid having a place in the world. I love my figure skating and salsa family, and being close to my actual family after ten years living across the country. For a few years the hunger has been quieted, as I enjoyed being home.
But as I sat speaking with those at the party, something pulled at me inside.
My new friend approached my boat, her face alight with happiness. “These little buggers really don’t like to take a straight path to where you want them to go.”
I laughed, and realized that’s what the hunger was telling me. I’d been on a quiet, straight path for a few years, my only topsy turviness adventure had been growing my business or white water kayaking.
But like my kayak, my life didn’t like straight lines.
It had been years of contentment, taking a few vacations, enjoying my time with the people I love, and being settled into a somewhat routine. During that time I stopped making a plan for my life. I didn’t have a list of travel destinations I would explore, and in the last year I’d only traveled once for a skating competition.
My business had locked me in, and the situation of needing to grow it — thinking I had to do it all — stopped me from planning out what I wanted to do in the next year or five years.
I was in the daily momentum, and though that was fine, I knew if I didn’t check in, write down and make a plan for things I wanted to experience, another year would pass and it would be the same as the last.
The problem was that I had some solid excuses to stop me from looking at that list: finances and time; I was really happy in the life I was leading; traveling could put me behind on my other goals.
The hunger, the beauty of the night around me, the reminder of the day that I’m not someone who can live everyday in a routine, all caught me at once. I went home, picked up the pen and paper, and started to write the questions that had led me on the path of 101 Dreams Come True.
What if there were no rules?What if you weren’t afraid of the consequences? What if you weren’t worried about money or your business? Where would you go, what would you do, how would you live the next year of your life?
I wrote down all the things I desired. Then I wrote down everything I would need to do to make them come to fruition.
And I got to work.