A photo posted by Nicole da Silva (@thenicoledasilva) on Sep 10, 2015 at 4:22pm PDT

What My 8 Year Old Self Taught Me

I sat at the corner on the end of the block on the street I grew up on. It felt like miles from home, but was only about 16 houses away. Cars, bikes and older kids could either go left or right, but not straight or you would end up in someone’s living room. At least I imagined it to be a living room. I could see the front, but not the back. I could glimpse between the houses and see the backs of the houses that abbutted their backyards. I wondered what the inside of this house looked like. Did it have a large sofa with a TV like my house? Was the furniture still wrapped in plastic and reserved only for guests?

Most of the houses were similar in style, but certainly none were cookie cutter. I imagined what is was like in the distant land beyond the front of those houses. I sat on the sidewalk of that corner for hours at a time wondering. I had seen where it led to the left or right from the back seat of my parent’s car, but never took my bike beyond that corner.

I would sit looking at the grass and imagining how the ants viewed the worms and how the worms viewed the birds and how the birds viewed us, humans. I would go back home, wait for it to get dark and look up in the sky. Imagining how far the stars were; not in houses, or blocks but in light years. They seemed so far away that I measured them in time not distance. I would also imagine if there was life beyond planet earth. The planet I knew was only as far as the corner of my street.

I’d wonder if someone was sitting at their corner in space looking down at me, as I had just looked at the ants and worms. It never scared me. It just made me think in a state of wonder and amazement about the things I didn’t know and never would unless I went out and explored them to find out. I knew somehow that discovery is something that you do, not something you receive. I had to become an explorer.

Through my school years, I remained an explorer, both in travel and in myself. I pushed myself to the edge by running for student council president, by dressing in clothes that no one else dared to wear, by becoming the center of attention through my actions. I set out on road trips to explore the US. By the time I was 35, I had traveled to all 50 states. Not just touching down or passing through, but stopping to experience what each place had to offer.

Then something happened. I wasn’t traveling as often for work any more. I became complacent with conformity and accepted what I knew instead of exploring what I didn’t. I’m now waking up to my inner child. The one that needs to be an explorer. The one who thinks beyond what he knows and discovers what he doesn’t. The one who finds the edge and pushes it to discover a new edge and then pushes it again. I used to imagine what it would be like to be older. To be sitting at that corner and being able to explore across the street and beyond that. Now I imagine what it would be like to have that curiosity of my 8 year old self. Unlike then, I won’t just sit and wonder, I will explore.