Context for my outlook: Part one

When I reflect on my life's winding journey - especially in more recent years - there are certain happenings that readily stand out as noteworthy landmarks on my path. These are some of the experiences that have had prominent roles in shaping the person that I am, and that I continue to become.

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In the late summer of 2013, I encountered the unforeseen and unimaginable opportunity to sail across the Atlantic ocean on a 52 ft. sailboat. The two and a half month adventure, which included an ocean crossing and island hopping between the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands, will likely remain one of the most memorable endeavours I've ever set out on. Memorable for the adventure in and of itself, and memorable for the self-learning (which I'll save for another time) that came of it. But what I find myself reflecting on just as often as the actual sailing, is the seemingly incidental way that the opportunity presented itself to me in the first place. The skipper, a friend of my boss at the time, was gathering a crew for the crossing and happened to be meeting some potential candidates at my workplace during my shift. I'd met this skipper in the past and I knew he was looking for crew, but never had it remotely occurred to me that I - someone with zero sailing experience - could be an eligible candidate. So when, in passing, I made a joking comment that I'd go along on the journey, I was caught off guard when he German-matter-of-factly replied: "Yes, you can come." That comment opened the door to a dream-come-true adventure that I'd not yet even dreamt up. I dropped the courses for my final semester of university, postponing my graduation, acquired a student line of credit, and set sail four weeks later.

Over and over again I think about how significantly different my life might be if I hadn't made that thoughtless joke of a comment about joining the crew. Or if the skipper had decided to meet those crew candidates somewhere other than at my work, or even just during someone else's shift. This happening more than anything else up until then, made it blatantly clear to me that trying to plan and premeditate my life's direction was not only futile but also unnecessary. In years prior I was already starting to laugh at the idea of planning for the future, when I could barely keep a single semester on the track I would anticipate. This sailing opportunity became my shining example of the incredible - unthinkable - experiences that can enter my life if I let them. It has deeply influenced how I lead my life because I no longer believe that I need to have it all figured out. I have goals and ideas but I don't have all the answers about my life's trajectory and I'm not trying to find those answers. I intensely believe that everything will work out for me and this is continuously reinforced by the amazing people and experiences that enter my life.

To many people the notion of putting your trust in the universe will seem naive, but people who live there lives in this manner know exactly the truth that I am speaking of. Making my life incredible really has been as simple as going with the flow. When an opportunity that resonates with me crosses my path, I grab it. When opportunities seem to be at a lull, I am reassured by the belief that where I am at the moment is where I need to be. This doesn't mean that I don't encounter challenges; but when I'm caught in a hard place I find comfort in the perspective that I'm going through one tough chapter in a much longer story. It also doesn't mean that I don't ever make commitments or work hard for something. It just means that I'm constantly checking in with myself to make sure that whatever I'm putting my energy into, it is something I want to be doing. If I'm working towards a goal or make a commitment and realize it was a mistake, sometimes I still have to ride that out, and that's okay because I learn something valuable in the interim. But as soon as I am able, I work to tweak my situation so that I can jump back into the flow, back into a place where I feel more aligned with myself.

Fear is the kryptonite for a life rooted in trust, and understandably so. I take chances on the unknown and these decisions (which impact my life's direction) are often largely based on nothing more than a gut feeling. I have no guarantees, no modern sense of certainty or security; and that can be more than enough to set fear floating through my consciousness. Fear-based decisions are those made for anyone or anything other than myself - often influenced by societal expectations of me, pressures of what I "should" do. The simplest way to check in that I'm truly acting in the interest of myself, is to push my mind aside when it comes to making decisions and let my heart run the show instead.

It can be anxiety-inducing at first, but the more I give fear the big "fuck you" and do what I really want, the more I am rewarded. The magical unfolding of my own life is the only proof I have or need to sustain my outlook. As I said, I don't have any answers and I'm not trying to find them. All I need do is keep my senses tuned to the flow of the universe and sit back and enjoy this ride that is my life.