Right here right now, I'm in Japan, teaching English/Internationalization and am rewarded intrinsically along the way through spreading culture and learning about another. The residents in my town have been very open to learn about my family and I. There are things I miss about chosen lifestyles in California where I can wake up, teach/hike at an outdoor science school, coach football, and make my rounds to the mountains, the beach, pick up basketball, or downtown Fullerton. Demo (nihongo for 'however'), seeing many friends move towards their passions - such as; financial advising, engineering, acting, music, coaching, medicine, sports, and so on - has helped me make decisions that have led towards where I am right now. Is it where I want to be in five years? If you asked me to answer honestly, I would say "not exactly". There are other meals yet to be served. I only hope to build and maintain the bridges which have been forged and will be forged over the next few years abroad. I am attempting to live a passionate lifestyle, and trying to live passionately even if it means or meant making prolonged stops at family members homes free of charge along the way.
To the next point, making prolonged stops at family members homes along the way. the economy is recovering, I think? But when I graduated in '10 the job market wasn't what it was 10 years ago for fresh college graduates, especially with a Social Ecology degree. After uprooting myself from southern California I decided to work in the Oregon/Washington Cascade mountain range, hike for three weeks in the High Sierras, hike and volunteer farm in Oahu (WOOF), take a winter Wilderness Travel Course with the Sierra Club, and take summer classes in Anatomy in San Luis Obispo. (I find it necessary to have outdoor skills and the outdoors have become a sanctuary for me). These opportunities became possible through the support of family, friends, and mentors along the way. The above picture never would have happened if I didn't accept help in buying a plane ticket a few years back. Shooting forward to today, I am now living abroad and get to play for the towns recreational baseball team while also playing bball every day at lunch just like when I was in middle school- the kids around this small inaka (country) town even remember my number - 15. Now it can be my family who gets to travel on a small part of my account/location. The options I have in my present life and my future are made a possibility through much support from family and friends and the 'Big guy up in the sky'. I owe them a big one.
That being said, it ain't all pretty pictures and sunsets. There are times I face doubts of teaching versus 'living'. In other words, as a young athlete I never found myself in a speaking role among my teammates, but a lead by example role. It was not until later in my life I felt the outside pressures to learn to speak well and many external benefits, as well as in interpersonal relationships. Even now on my down time I find myself planning for the next move without speaking the language of my current location, strategically planning out-of-the box ways to incorporate skill sets with experience and opportunity with respects to family, location, the outdoors, athletics, and attaining a Masters in a Kinesiology/Health related field. My list is there, and we all have our lists of what ifs and how-to's. Sometimes, I may as well be scratching my head in the picture below, as I'm attempting to understand things in my own life yet alone keeping up with other happenings, but instead of scratching our head just keep looking and try to figure it out yea. I ought to just remember KIS, Keep It Simple, easier said than done.
In the meantime I try to deal with perceptions of this is not 'enough' and learning patience through working at being grateful (click the link for a cool site), really work at being grateful. Along the beginning of this prolonged journey and lifestyle, which is ordinary in the respects considering that many friends and family have already taken their courageous steps, from starting families, playing ball in Europe, and another running an ultra marathon (which I admire and follow) towards their goals - there will be many people who choose to help us along the way. One thing that has really helped me appreciate my ups and downs - being grateful and making the effort to give to those you also see taking steps towards a goal of theirs. Muhammed Ali once said “What keeps me going is goals.” I have felt some amazement in the helping hands I've received along the way, and now feel a sense of responsibility to also help the next person or people I see traveling or making effort - from the Nihonjin only speaking the bare minimum English needing a ride in the Sierra Mountains to the physically awkward kid who just wants the ball passed to him in a pick up game of basketball so he can show what he's practiced so much for. That being said, lets help each other out in aspects of education, sport, travel, adventure, and so on, most of us in our 20's are looking for something, let's help each other get there and also realize the huge pro's to our current situations whatever they may be. I know I'll continue to accept a helping hand when necessary and am grateful for the ones offered thus far. One thing I want to continue to improve is financial stability as well, so for any one younger than me reading this, keep your finances right, it'll make things run smoother. Gracias.
(Grand Canyon backpacking trip, May of 2012, hiking friend Mark along with Dorea/Audrey/Kari helped organize this trip - Inside The Outdoors coworkers)