I Flux with Watson
Change is constant and time has allowed me to mull over this single idea.
Physical or philosophical, change meant that I didn’t need to worry so much about who or what I was. Ideologically and in every way, I needed neither to be truly defined nor definite. Accepting change allowed me to accept myself as someone in flux, someone who was learning and absorbing in new ways. Seeking change, believing in it, and relying on it took me places – to an ashram in India, a study abroad in Germany, travels across Europe, and being as far away from suburban monotony as possible. Change became both positive and productive.
The ironic thing is that in this past year, my last year at Pitzer College, the opposite occurred - an utter lack of change. My life became a rhythm of the fixed and cyclic. I lived with the same housemates for over a year, cultivated steady committed relationships, and there was an even pattern to my academic and recreational life that included regular trips home. Over this past year, I would say I became a homebody, someone who loves the pace of a simple routine, a predictable schedule, and the company of familiar faces. So going into this Watson journey feels like I’m reopening an old diary, a past way of life – of hyper vigilance, movement, meeting social demand, and intense introspection – travel mode, AKA a constant state of flux.
Seven days before beginning my Watson journey, I am both excited and anxious.
Over the course of 1 year, I will be in 6 countries - 5 of which I’ve never been to before. In stark contrast, most of my graduated counterparts will be stationed in 1 city with 1 job, making friends, finding their coffee shops, settling down, chiseling out a regimen, and actively working towards a more conceivable future. Meanwhile, I will be moving…hurtling forward towards an unknown future, which with certainty, will introduce even more future uncertainty.
But the most unsettling thought to me is the loss of identity a long-term traveller can feel. What was me or is me is largely linked to the cultural signifiers that are both American and Californian. For example the type of humor I like, my favorite music venues in LA, or the simple act of driving down PCH with my canine babes in the backseat of my Prius and a lavender kombucha in the cup holder. I am nervous also because as any solo lady traveller knows, it can be hard when your smiley, open, and friendly self could be considered suggestive… #sorryimbeautiful. You’ve got to question each move and keep those eyes under your messy bun wide open.
“Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing,” writes Rebecca Solnit. I go into this journey holding her words close (literally a light paperback copy of “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” in my backpack). So, instead of focusing on the absence of the familiar and routine, I focus on the constant presence of the unknown and change. Being lost is liberating!
Fact: Every 7-10 years we become new people. In that time, every cell in our body is replaced by a new cell.
I won’t be gone for 7 years but I just might come back changed :-)