Static lessons learned from dynamic experiences
It surprised me how much Roland Wild's piece on journeying through America resonated me. I have never been on a cross-state road trip and even less an RV, what I imagine to be today's equivalent of a covered wagon.
As Wild mentioned, "You want circumstances to make a decision for you," which can be served as a summary of my college experience. Upon exiting high school, I was set to move to Boston, but, lured by scholarships, spent a year in Arizona instead. Realizing it was a terrible fit, I immediately transferred to NYU, and after just one semester, went abroad for half a year in China.
Despite all the packing, moving, and physical relocation, most decisions were made for me. As a college student, the classes I took, work experiences I had as well as the environments I was in were all designed to help me succeed in fulfilling my credits and completely coursework. While each place provided unique and irreplicable experiences and challenges, my days were set toward the goal of graduation. Schoolwork kept me grounded.
As graduation quickly approaches me at the end of this semester, my greatest insecurity and fear was mentioned by Wild: "True to tradition, the realization of ambition was dust in the mouth." Upon graduation, circumstances will no longer be, in a sense, forced upon me. Rather than handle classes, deadlines, and final papers as is expected of me, I will have to set my own goals and deadlines, whether it is for career or otherwise.
In Wild's piece, he demonstrates chasing your ambition and aspirations can bring upon unexpected challenges, regardless of how optimistic or handy one might be. Through the characters' hardships and covered wagon life, I could not help but fast forward to my future - would I be struggling as much? Would Manhattan apartments become my covered wagon, the center I come back to but never a truly permanent home?
However, what Wild seems to teach us in the end is, regardless of the daily stress we may face, there are always things in life to appreciate, such as the beautiful landscape around us. "Gradually these trivial matters, which had overshadowed our lives completely, became of less importance."
Whether it is through a covered-wagon journey, or post-graduate discovery of life, it seems many parallels can be drawn. It is an interesting way to keep life in perspective and realize any challenges we face today has, emotionally, been overcome before.