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Katie’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 06 Oct 2005

Location: Watertown, MA, USA

Maphello friends...

A few months ago, I had the great luxury of sitting in Dharamshala at the Cloud's End (?) guest house in the company of mindful wanderers, reflecting on the week we'd just spent attending the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, checking out the surrounding Himalayan foothills, and meditating. Pico Iyer, a writer (about travel et al.) joined us for this reflective discussion; his words spilled forth effortlessly, magically. He wove his own experiences in with ours, to make us all feel like we, too, had a gift of articulation and perspective and insight. I felt almost self-congratulatory, as we discussed the concepts of enjoying the journey, seeing the joy in each moment, living simply, among others; my cup did, at that moment, runneth over with hundreds of examples of how I had done that in my almost-year traveling. I then asked a question, something along the lines of 'I will have traveled for over a year before I next settle down somewhere...can you discuss your experiences getting back into a routine after an extended journey?' Pico responded that he didn't know, he hadn't traveled for such a length of time; I should let him know how it goes. I smiled nervously, feeling part intrepid - after all, I'd come so far, climbed high, made it back in one piece, and here I was partaking in an exchange of philosophy around travel and cultural ambassadors and monastic living with some semi-famous folks - and part concerned, but only as concerned as I was lying on my stomach overlooking the ocean from the cliffs at Dun Aengus. Sort of that exhilarated concern of that is far more about happy adrenaline-pumping than about tear-inducing anxiety.

So that was just a few months ago; March, to be exact. Now I'm actually having to face up to my question, and some of that intrepid, exhilarated feeling has disappeared...a bit more fun lying cliffside on my belly, I guess, or chewing the fat with a travel writer and Buddhist pilgrims in the Dalai Lama's hometown (ok, in exile) than trying to settle into a community on a long-term (?) basis. Now that I'm 'in one place,' I am feeling this pressure to do something great, to re-invent myself on as grand a scale as the journey from which I'm taking a pause. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at the point of neurotic nail-biting or self-pity, but I did have a dream a few nights ago that summed things up nicely: in the dream, I re-joined GS in NY (the same offices in which I made my start in corporate America), but I didn't know what my job was, and all the people working there rolled their eyes at me. Yep.

For any of you in or around Boston (temporarily or otherwise), do drop me an email... at the moment I've got more free time than I know what to do with (yes, I do recognize what a gift that is...)! I'm filling my time with some job and education research, some volunteer work, and lots of dance classes (in the last week, I took my first tap and ballet classes in about 13 years - as well as belly dancing and yoga). But in between my taking-advantage-of-the-free-time- -because-I-know-it-won't-last sessions, I'm also preoccupied with how to find an engaging, somewhat challenging job with benefits and some kind of salary, working alongside reasonable, nice, motivated people. I guess the bottom line is that I'm asking too much...after becoming my own hero by breaking away from the 8-year corporate ladder, I'm not sure there's a good way to sustain that status!

A few weeks ago, I got to discuss my uncertain status with a neighbor here in Watertown. She, too, had taken a year to travel round the world: 'Best year of my life,' she said, 'followed by the worst.' Essentially, she suggested I brace myself for re-entry.

So here I am. Brace, brace!