traveler's reflection

Traveler’s Reflection: Beyond the Textbooks and Into the World: Life’s Greatest Lecture

traveler's reflection

By Morgan Sullivan

The month I graduated university was also the month I decided to leave home. For years, my life had seemed to be growing ever narrower: my thoughts, my relationships, my perspective, all had shrunk until often I felt as though I was simply experiencing the same few days on repeat, on repeat. I felt stagnant and stale, unable to grow beyond what I was in any given moment.

So, I pursued a TEFL job, packed my bags, and practically sprinted to the plane – no definite return date in mind. Now, I have been teaching English in South Korea for one year, and plan on staying a second. In the months before abandoning my comfortably simple Colorado life, I often experienced a certain recurring daydream. It was less of a daydream really, and more a single image: an inconspicuous black leather chair with silver armrests, facing a window, and totally identical to all the others chairs around it.

Then there was me: sitting alone, gazing out that window, staring into an open space dotted with moving parts: some, like the airplanes were large, others like the employees were much smaller – but all moving parts nonetheless. Sitting in that airport chair, I was not a part of that microcosm – I was just a girl, in a chair, in an airport, with my backpack at my side, and my passport on my lap. Despite my imagination being active in nearly everything else, I could never conjure an image further than that chair.

At university, they teach you everything you could ever want to know – history, economics, math, science, psychology – it seems as though all the information in the world is so easily accessible. You have massive libraries with thousands of books, access to the best online depositories of academic argument, and professors who seem so all-knowing as they concisely explain what academia thinks of the world at large. Yet, with all that information, there’s no knowledge.

You can learn everything you want to know, but nothing that you need. They don’t teach you that an extraordinary dream both crushes you under the weight of wanting it, yet lifts you to untold heights once achieved. They don’t teach you that no one, and I mean no one, knows what they are doing, not really. They don’t teach you how to look in the mirror everyday and not only recognize the face looking back at you, but to accept and to love it for all that it is, and all that it is not.

I left home because I needed a new path. I had all the information I could stand, and with each book read, each essay written, each academic achievement made – my frustration grew. Eventually, there came a point where I felt that for the sake of my life and sanity, I physically could not stay. I left my comfortable and simple life because in that moment it was all I could do. I knew beyond any shadow that the answers I sought were simply not available in that place, and in that particular chapter of my life. So, I turned the page.

I could imagine myself up to that lonely chair in the airport, because I knew all the words to that particular story. I could not imagine myself any further, because that is where the opaque enigma of the unknown began. Like a sentence that trails off onto a blank page, that’s what I had thought the unknown really was: a blank nothingness, which threatened to swallow me if I ventured too far in.

I know better now.

The unknown is not a blank nothingness, quite the opposite really. The unknown is a kaleidoscope – brilliant hues in a myriad of shapes, changing endlessly with each subtle turn, every pattern more lovely and intoxicating than the last. Stepping into that particular storm was one of the hardest things I ever did, but even in my darkest moments since, I have never once regretted it. This life I am living now it not always easy; in fact, in many ways it has more difficulties than the life I lived before. Yet, I love it fiercely all the same – it fills me with the vibrant colors and pulsating melody of a life lived on purpose, of a life in which I feel truly alive.

This post was originally published on A Beautiful View

About the author:

Morgan is a Colorado native with suburban sensibilities and penthouse dreams. She writes about life as a millennial wander, self-improvement through travel, and the realities of teaching English in Korea on her website A Beautiful View. Currently in the throes of a desperate battle between dreamland and adulthood, she invites you to come along as she explores this crazy beautiful world of ours.


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