The rain continues to pour. The students huddle around the wood-burning stove, and reminisce about the ambivalent slaughter of a sheep for an endless feast that made full bellies and empty hearts. Our driver and cook converse over coffee, deciding what should be done to repair the van that has lost it’s trailer hitch, accelerator, starting mechanism, and drive shaft in the course of two weeks. Capo, our Spanish teacher, gazes into the distance, no doubt fantasizing about el Rio Fuy with a smirk on his face. As I take in my surroundings and compatriots I ponder the meaning of it all. Why are we here in this place, where it is cold, raining, and devoid of sunshine?
I can’t help but become nostalgic, thinking back on my childhood. Thinking back in my father, who first brought, and left me, at Cub Scout camp. I was nervous, scared, and fiercely excited to explore my natural world. Entering the woods as a starry eyed child I wondered at the unending immensity of the North Woods, the beauty, grace, and vehement power it contained. From that summer experience I began to realize my place in this world. I loved the blue sky, green earth, coursing waters, tranquil snow, and towering mountains. I knew my place from that point on.
Being here in Chile, working as an educator, kayaker, and world traveler I realize that I am still on that quest, that quest to find the next adventure, my personal legend if you will. I don’t know where I’m heading, but I do know that this is indeed my path. I cannot believe how lucky I am. My gratefulness to everyone who has helped me get here is abounding. To be able to watch these kids grow, learn, and mature into young men and women is a gratifying experience. I am so proud of what they accomplish day in and day out. Learning how to work together, share, and in some cases place trust of life in each other. The amount of trust that they must develop with each other is profound. It brings them together in a way that no other experience could, and being an influence on that process is exciting.
So here’s to you, young man or woman. Maybe you can read this and find a shred of yourself in my words. I too was once a confused youth just looking for his place in the world. I indeed do not have all the answers, but one thing I can tell you for sure is to follow your heart, dream big, and run some stout if you have to. This life’s worth living, and as Morgan Freeman put it, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”, damn straight.