When I was in high school, I dreamed only of travel.
While my friends stayed up late our senior year gathering essays, recommendations, and a list of extra-curricular activities for their college applications, I lay on my blue carpet floor, perusing through guide books, sketching mountains I had never seen, and writing about my future—one that, I hoped, would include journeys to the world’s most rustic corners, people whose languages I had never heard of (and learning those languages…all of them), and a career that would encourage a vagabond lifestyle.
At seventeen, I watched the birds fly away for winter, and wished that I could see the ground through their eyes, that I could watch the landscapes change.
I imagined my classmates, years later when they had graduated college and were working a 9-5, would one day see something I had written for a magazine or international newspaper and say “I wonder what ever happened to her….”
And so, in late summer when the temperature had just begun to drop, my friends packed up their parents cars and drove to their new college campuses. A few weeks later, I got on a plane to Israel and didn’t come home for a year.
I experienced a lot while I was gone—I learned Hebrew, made top-notch hummus, and got myself in and out of some iffy situations. I grew used to not having air conditioning in 115 degree weather and, by the end of the year, didn’t even mind being squashed between people on the overcrowded public bus. I fell in love with the desert and the music that flowed out of it.
I learned a lot that I didn’t expect, too. Being away from my home in Indiana, I began to appreciate its subtleties—the friendliness, slow-pace, relative safety, and of course, my family.
This past December, I finally graduated from college. Over the past five years, I split my time between the USA and Israel, studying in universities in both countries, and traveling to many other places in on my breaks.
I took another semester off to work for a newspaper, and lived in a quiet town 45 minutes from the Dead Sea. Each time I moved between continents, the transition was difficult. The places always seemed the same, but I felt so different. When I felt downtrodden, I told myself: you are living your dreams, and eventually, it will make you happy.
I made the decision to come home (at least for now) a year ago. I live and work just a few miles from my parents, and wake up early to walk my large German Shepherd. A few months ago, a good friend from high school came home from her job in New York for a visit. My current lifestyle seemed to confused her. “What happened?” she asked, “you used to have such big dreams.”
I didn’t know how to put it then, but I have recently realized: I didn’t stop dreaming, my dreams just evolved.
For a while, I carved a different path for myself—one that led me to one of the epicenters of religious life and history, to desert caves, to unmarked borders, and to friendships I will always hold close.
And though my outward journeys colored my life and left me with many stories to write about, its the inner journey that I wish to cultivate the most—one of peaceful, quiet reflection and gratitude for every moment in this life. I hope that I will always be able to listen to my dreams, and to also accept that I can’t always know where they will take me.
From my dining room table I can see a pair of Cardinals (the Indiana state bird) at the bird feeder I installed last week. There is a nest in a nearby oak tree—I wonder if its theirs. Either way, I have a feeling they’ll be here for a while.
This post is in honor of the continuing celebration of Whitney Johnson’s new book, Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream.
Margy works part-time for Weaving Influence and part-time for her brother’s consumer electronics company, JacobsParts Inc. She enjoys collecting wild herbs, writing poetry, drinking vegetable juice, and hiking with her dog Tesla. Also–blue grass music.