Yesterday, I turned 24.

The past year has been anything but boring as vagabonded my way from Europe to Africa to the U.S. and back, teaching yoga, doing marketing, starting work at elephant journal and publishing over 100 pieces of writing along the way.

Some of it I’ve written about here; much of it I haven’t. I’m committed to keeping this a travel blog only, and so today, that’s what I’d like to focus my birthday reflections on: this journey.

A little over a year ago, I decided to go on a vision quest—four hungry days and nights alone in the Vermont wilderness.

I was looking for something… I didn’t find it.

I found nothing, in fact, save for a few lovely dragonflies, ducks, and one very long, very cold night stranded beneath the stars.

Traveling—maybe—is a little bit like that.

First, we answer the call. Second, we set out into the unknown. And third… third maybe we bring back nothing from our journey. What then?

As I’ve written before, I’m not searching for [fill in the blank], and so it’s very unlikely that I’ll find “it” anytime soon. And sometimes I find myself stranded beneath those metaphorical stars—cold, hungry or lost… or all three!—and I wonder how the hell I ended up there. What crazy, impulsive, excellent decision got me there?

But it’s always the right place.

The stars never wonder why I’m there; they know, and at least that’s one of us.

You see, I have a philosophy I love about journeys, choices and life, and it basically goes like this:

Each of our lives is like a forest, or a valley, a mountain a desert, etc—it doesn’t matter—absolutely covered in paths.

When we look around, we see all of those paths—infinite options, possibilities—choices to be made.

But when we look behind us, we see only one path—our footsteps in the sand, tracks through the woods, etc—our path.

That path—our path—is the only path we could have walked, because it is the one we have walked. And each choice we make—once it is made—is the only choice we could have made, because there it is behind us—another footprint, another step on our path—past.

We answer the call; we make our choices. 

I find this outlook deceptively simple, quite practical and deeply compelling. Maybe you will too.
When I look at the year behind me, I see each step that has brought me to this place (a cozy couch in London, England at this particular moment). I regard that winding journey without regret and with no small measure of appreciation, for without it I would not be here—the only place I could possibly be.

When I look at the year ahead, well, I do so with butterflies in my stomach and wings on my heels, because the forest is so vast—the paths so numerous—that I can take in but a fraction of it at a time.

And that is every life—not only mine. Every year, every birthday, every moment and every step.

I believe that, and the stars agree.

Thank you for being a part of this journey—as a reader, a friend, a star, or all three!