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Inspired to Worldchange

If someone had told me as recently as 2 years ago where I would be, what I’ve seen and what I would be doing right now, it would seem plausible but I would be a bit skeptical. It delights me to no end that so little of the trajectory I thought I had plotted out for myself in the first and second year of university actually came to be, because one of the most pleasant occurrences that can happen to someone, I think, is to be surprised by one’s own self.

To be fair, none of the things I have done in the past two years have in any way come from nowhere. I am a product of situations, circumstances, fortunes and seeming-serendipity with causes that can be traced back to long before I was born, including and not confined to my parents, their parents, the teachers I’ve had and the forces that make some people like me better than others (and the ways in which they express this).

And while the conversations I’ve had, the places I’ve seen, the books I’ve skimmed (and the occasional chapters that I’ve actually fully deeply immersively steeped myself in, and the blog posts I’ve read have been wonderfully inspiring, I still don’t quite feel I have my finger on how it all stacks together. And to be fair, perhaps I don’t need to know all of how it happened. Perhaps knowing some of the important parts is enough, like:

  • learning to ask for things. I might not get it, but I’m further along than if I hadn’t said anything it all.
  • learning not to shy from sheer and utter terror. Oh, 7 times out of 10 I’m still utterly terrified. But it beats the 9 times out of 10 when I used to break for the other direction out of sheer habit. Those mere 2 extra times I’ve said, “What the heck, let’s roll with it,” have generally turned out well (and others are still in progress).
  • learning to trust in people. This one’s a big one, because I find it hard to balance with trust in myself. It’s one of those odd hubris-y teeter-totters – if I trust others, I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself to be “on” all the time, and I can pull my nose away from the grindstone and take a look around once in a while. It’s gorgeous, when I remember how to do it without freaking out on others.
  • learning not to fear stupid questions. Do I even need to mention that New York Magazine article again?)

And so on. While neither the last two years or all of my other previous experiences taken separately can singularly be what I would consider the cause of my wonderful now, taken together they make sense as the cause and effect of each other, and the cause of right now. Not only that, but they also point me towards how to find what’s next, even if I don’t have a high-resolution picture of what that future state looks like. I feel a courage to shape that future, that I previously didn’t really feel. It’s nice. I wish everyone gets to feel this: that all their previously positive and negative experiences have led them exactly to this point and that there is nowhere else as worthwhile to be.

That’s the story I want to share with the delegates and participants at Transport Hero Camp. I am not necessarily ready-made or perfect for the things I have done or have agreed to do, but I am nothing if not uniquely qualified – and the more I try to grow those features in myself, the better I feel about what I’m doing and what I can do next.

The part of this that I find even more interesting is that this happens all the time. People are pulled into things away from what “looked” like their previous paths all the time into something that actually resonates with them so much more. I’m quite certain that this comes with navigating yet another precarious balance: that between seeing only that which is immediately useful and relevant to you, and finding what I like to refer what I think of as connective tissues: the way that thing over there is actually exactly what you’re looking for hiding in misleading outsides.

Transit Camp is an example of this – it is not necessarily an immediately obvious, self-evident merging of perspectives, interests, methods and contexts; most people think I must want to be a transportation professional to have an interest in it, unless I’m just there as a communicator. Yet as it is, it actually works so well, because it makes complete sense to those few of us who have lingered there, and it becomes infinitely easier to explain the more we are forced, or take the initiative, to venture away to explain it to other people. So many other spaces like this are lurking, waiting to be created – between experience and knowledge, wisdom and mundanity, the tangibility of lives lived and dreams caught on the tips of tongues. Between fields rich in thought and theory, and problems older than my memory.

One Comment

  1. You were surprised when I said that I found your blog to be a very nice read so I thought that I’d point out that *this* is the post to which I was referring. It’s quite inspiring really :-)

    Posted September 28, 2008 at 9:18 am | Permalink

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