Nothing has ever been the same. I left my village, and leaving a piece of my heart there, bloomed into a new person. Each stone step I stepped down, climbing back down the mountain, filled me with a new energy. I now knew what I could do: I could climb mountains, I could run a classroom. I didn’t have to be afraid.
I had taken the world by the horns and survived to tell the tale. More than that, I thrived to tell the tale. I read, I wrote poems, plays and pieces, I taught myself to play the ukulele. I conquered the forest trails unafraid, and found that there were always more paths waiting for me. There was always a sense of destination, but beauty in the journey as well, and this I carry with me now just as I did then.
In this California early summer, I notice the way the piney leaves at the end of the Redwoods’ branches grow spring green on my walk to work. I appreciate the flowers in the courtyards, and everyday compare the hills off highway 280 with the mountains I used to brush my teeth in front of.
I take life by the horns. I am still afraid of some things, and there are things I’ll always be a afraid of, but I now know what it feels like to be alive– to breathe in air that I chose to breathe instead of being stifled into something someone else wants for me.
I’ve learned to love my winding path, and am so grateful for the trails I’ve taken to be right here, this moment I’m living in today. I’m filled, everyday, with such gratitude for the life this program has given me, in so many different ways.
My life has never been the same.