I arrived home this past Saturday evening. It feels like I've been gone for a long time and no time at all. It's going to take some time before I can fully understand the impact of what I've experienced but people's questions are helping me to process everything.
The main change I notice in my outlook on life is the way I think about my future. I have anxiety and used to constantly get worked up asking myself, what do I want to do with my life? That was the big question and the most pressing one I had before deciding to go on the road. I now realize, and I mean truly understand, that it's a question with an impossible answer. The question for me now is what do I want to do next? Traveling and having to live day to day, in the moment, taught me to make more short term goals. Right now I can only plan the next four months of my life. In the past I would have found it incredibly stressful to have such a vague plan for my future but now I find it liberating. I have short term deadlines and goals and all I can do is work towards them. If they don't work out things will be re-evaluated then. So far I feel no anxiety about where I will be in four months. My van may rust out and fall apart and my exhibition may bomb making my goal of heading back out on the road in June an impossibility. Any number of things can happen to change my planned trajectory and I have no control over any of it. This new acceptance doesn't make me feel helpless. It gives me power, knowing I can only put my best foot forward and the rest will happen as it will. I do, however, realize this way of living is a luxury because I only have myself to think about and plan for.
A close friend of of mine asked me what I learned about myself. It's so much easier to talk about the bad qualities one has than to recognize the good ones. I am well aware of my faults but the one good quality I realize about myself is that people respond well to me. As someone who is consistently self-conscious about what I'm saying, whether I sound stupid or look socially awkward, I have come to realize what I see in myself is not what I project. Perfect strangers have told me I'm inspiring, brave, strong and non-judgmental. An East Indian man, who owned a motel, thanked me for taking the time to talk to him, stating most white folks don't give him the time of day. I've been thanked for not judging a neighbor at a motel and for being open-minded and accepting of people. My old boss told me she liked that I would talk to anyone and everyone the same way. Obviously I travel to see the different landscapes but I find the people I meet are what makes the journey. Everyone has a story and I think because I'm a good listener it bring people to me. I prefer to listen to other people talk than to talk about myself.
Working towards what I thought was an unattainable or crazy goal and actually making it happen has given me confidence and a more peaceful mind. I have seen what I can accomplish and with my new less anxious and more patient outlook on life I feel like I'm on the right track. Next, I move into the house in the country, set up a studio space there and get down to business making the new pieces for my exhibition in March. I'm beyond excited.