When Ancient Roman and Medieval mapmakers came to the limits of what they knew–they demonstrated the demarcation line with the classical phrase HIC SVNT LEONES– “here are lions”.
3 months ago I decided to quit the job I hated and move away from a city that I liked all right but ultimately didn’t bring me any joy. I’ve spent the last 3 months living on the edge of Desolation Wilderness exploring the changing Sierra’s as they metamorphose from the sun-baked summers of the high desert to a frigid and snowy world isolated from civilization.
In less than 10 days, I’m about to begin a new journey to New Zealand. It is a journey away from complacency and towards that frontier that those ancient mapmakers described–a place filled with the unknown–a place where I will force myself to encounter lions.
I’m fairly certain that most people are confused as to why I would leave a job with great benefits and wonderful people in order to wash dishes and clean toilets. To leave a world of promotions and stock options for a life of seasonal labor. Nothing about my current work is glamorous–however, these have been some of the happiest times of the last four years. I’ve awoken at dawn to watch the sunrise in a kayak, I’ve hiked a wilderness without a trail and yes, I’ve been covered up to my elbows in the slime of dirty dishes.
This is not one of those blogs that is going to romanticize physical labor–that will pretend that every moment of my life is filled with magic and wonder. I’m not going to pretend that I know what I’m doing, that I’m not afraid, that there aren’t moments of sadness and loneliness.
Ultimately: I am a woman traveling alone and I want to know what that means. I want to know what it’s like to make decisions, to relinquish all that stymies me and search for what I, and only I, want.
What I’m beginning to discover is this–our bodies and our minds grow stagnate. Accustomed to what we feed it–our lives settle into homeostasis, like an engine running on schedules and habits. I needed, desperately, to inject fear, adrenaline and uncertainty into my life–to awaken myself and begin to burn again.
Not everyone needs to quit her job and travel across the world–this is not everyones way. There are many weapons you can use to fight complacency in your home city. However, this is what I need.
I’d begun to look at a map and fear the lions crouching in the corners. And I’ve never wanted to be someone who runs.