~ Christopher McCandless (aka Alexaxder SuperTramp); Into the Wild
I rarely cry with movies. Though many stories have characters I can connect with, it's rare that the emotions of a moment, such as death or tragedy or loss, for the character bring me to tears. So it was a rare moment at the end of Into the Wild where the tears easily flowed. The touching of a personal truth.
For a long time I've struggled with finding my road through life. While others around me happily settled onto a particular path, I've never found something that I can truly settle into. On the one hand, having the comfort of predictability and stability seems ideal, especially during moments where I feel overwhelmed. To not live paycheck to paycheck, to be able to afford regular vacations and to know exactly what the work day will entail. On the other hand, though, is the knowledge that such stability often leads to me being bored at best, if not severely depressed. Its in those moments of stability that I've craved finding meaning and adventure. And so I find myself dropping the stability and looking for opportunities to live more on the edge.
In the past, this testing limits has come in different forms. From moving to Seattle with only a small cushion of money and no job lined up, to pursuing graduate school, to pursuing risker outdoor sports (rock-climbing, cliff jumping, skiing out of bounds and hiking trips through rougher terrain) dating Grey (we initially didn't get along) and decisions made will in the treatment trenches, those moments/decisions to do something outside my comfort zone have brought insights and benefits that I wouldn't have known otherwise.
With job hunting, I've found myself facing the dilemma almost daily. I come across opportunities that would offer stability and good pay, but I usually find my stomach turning with the thought of solely being confined behind a desk, clocking hours solely so someone else can become a little richer.
On the other end is the excitement that comes with science education research, pursuing grants and utilizing my skills in a way that truly would have an impact. The problem there, though, is knowing that there's a lot of risk with grant writing as one's position is constantly focused on finding grant opportunities continually applying as funding rates are at an all time low.
In a weird way, I'm measuring myself. This transition in career has become a strange journey of applying all the lessons I've learned and determining what road ahead is the one to pursue that will allow me to live with myself. To have no regrets both in making the best decisions for my family's security but also finding enough meaning in my world so that I'm also being true to this need for adventure.
Maybe that's why those tears came so readily last night. Why today has been more of an emotional one. That though Chris McCandless's story ends with him dying alone in the middle of the wilderness due to starvation and poor planning, he did so living a life filled with meaning and purpose.