Finding My Calling

I never really had a driving vision of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  A calling, so to speak.  I had phases of wanting different things, of course. There was a time when I thought I'd be a teacher, a writer, a forester, join the Air Force, become an astronaut, a farmer, or a park ranger, sign up with the Army Corps of Engineers or the Peace Corps.  My dad likes to remind me that for a while I asserted that I was going to become a nun so I could take care of him when he was old.  I never really had a lasting dream though.  Nothing that stuck.  No specific passion for being a pilot or saving lives or starting my own business that filled my imagination and guided my choices over the years.  

A doe and fawn near the cabin we rented for Matt's birthday weekend--our first real trip in months!

And it wasn't just work and career stuff either.  I didn't have a strong and consistent vision of what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to live it even.  I didn't know if it would be a big house in the country or a tiny apartment in the city or an RV on the open road.  I had lots of different ideas.  As a kid, I think I always expected to end up with a husband and children, but it wasn't a burning desire of my heart exactly, just something that people usually do so I figured I probably would, too.  I assumed I'd leave Sidney, but where I'd land....I never really had place that called to me insistently, beyond my innate (and biased) love for Montana.  I thought about New Zealand, too, though.  And California.  And Colorado.  

I entered the library world through total happenstance*.  I ended picking where I moved to similarly**.  I've sorta drifted here and there, snagging opportunities and dabbling in a lot of everything that interested me.  Even while taking my studies in college I had no grand plan for the future and picked classes that sounded most fascinating, even if not the most practical, whenever possible.  I had no specific career goal waiting at the end***.

The pond at the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas.  We have wanted to visit the garden for a number of years and finally made it happen for Matt's birthday.

This line of thought was starting to bum me out recently.  "I don't have a calling." I told Matt with something close to dismay in mid-September.  "I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up."  

An overview of the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas.  We want to go back when it isn't socked in with so much smoke.  Even still it was beautiful and tranquil.

As we talked it out though I had a flash of revelation.  A flash I've built on in my contemplations this past month.  I was wrong.  I DO have a dream, a vision, a passion.  I have for as long as I can remember.  My calling is travel.  Exploration.  Journey.  Adventure.  Going, being, doing, seeing.

The thing I have consistently wanted and imagined for myself all along is traveling this big, beautiful world.  Soaking in the landscapes, meeting the people, trying the food, observing the critters, experiencing the climate, studying the plants, reveling in the differentness-and-sameness.  

I love having my cozy little home to return to, but I always want to take the long way home to get there.

We tried Korean food for the first time along the way to the cabin.  Whistle Pig in Bozeman.  Mmmmmm....we love those Asian flavor profiles.  I didn't even know that sweet potato noodles (aka glass noodles) were a thing!

When I thought back, I realized that I got my very first job strictly so I could pay my way to Washington D.C. and New York City on a school trip.  I started working so I could start my own travels!  But it started earlier than that.  I absolutely treasured our regular family weekends camping at Fork Peck Lake in my youth.  I loved road tripping with my family, though not being sandwiched between my sisters in the backseat.  Spending more than a month in Europe was a life changing experience for the 18-year-old me.  My heart sings when I recall my three-generations trip to Mexico a few years back.  I have basically only one regret from college and that is that I didn't seize the opportunity to study abroad.  My maternal grandparents are undoubtedly a foundation stone in my travel fever.  They went around the world together--Russia, the Cook Islands, Ireland, Egypt, Australia, Germany, Mexico, and so, so many other places.  I treasured their souvenirs, photos, and stories.

The A-frame cabin we rented for Matt's birthday weekend.  It was right on Rock Creek and the babbling water sounds were heavenly inside and out.

Travel is in me.  I've got the metaphorical itchy feet.  I want to head off into the sunset.  To get up and go.  I want to watch the land roll by and wake up under a different sky.

Like a lightning bolt I realize that this is a major player in my declining sense of mental balance as the pandemic spins on and on.  I cannot fully actualize my only consistent and lifelong drive.  The ability to satisfy my wanderlust has been seriously curtailed.  Travel is calling and I can't just pack up in answer, as I am accustomed to doing.

More from the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas.

I'm adapting to wearing a mask, but I ache to soak in the desert sun and come home with sand in every zipper, nook, and cranny.  I am on board with outdoor social calls with my galpals, but I miss three-night-runs boogieing as we watch the sunset over Red Rocks.  I knew, even at the time, that 2019 was a spectacular blessing of travel and experience for Matt and me--well above average.  It is hard not to compare the two with a sense of loss.

Taking a soak at Bozeman Hot Springs on a quiet Thursday evening.  We camped near Bozeman as a pit-stop along the way to the cabin.  We not only enjoyed the water, but the chance to visit with our camp neighbors about the Yellowstone (where they'd just been) and Glacier National Park (where they were headed next).  Matt and I thoroughly enjoy chatting up other travelers.  We have sure missed it.

Yet I endeavor always to keep a grateful heart.  I remain thankful for all I have, even as I pine for what I've lost.  This won't last forever.  Nothing does.  At least now I have a better sense of where I am and why.  That's helpful.  I might not be willing to hop on a plane bound for Arizona right now, but we can still scratch it other ways.  Renting a cabin in the mountains for a long weekend for Matt's birthday was truly restorative.  I felt like myself again!   

So, we're planning a couple similar sort of journeys--those which doesn't involve gobs of people or out of state travel, say.  I don't think I can view these excursions as frivolous goodtimes any more, but as crucial to my mental health and sense of well-being.  They ground me.  I need them.  The journey is my life's calling.

A nature shot from my scrambling hike up the mountainside behind the cabin.  

*I got a student job at the library in college because my sister, Sarah, worked there and said you got paid to do your homework a lot of the time and the bosses were cool.  I didn't even qualify for work-study funds and yet, somehow, Sarah convinced 'em to hire me as a part-timer.

**I received a full academic scholarship that I applied for on a whim at the very last minute.  I was still not quite sure I even wanted to go to college, let alone here.  I was going to move to Missoula and study Forestry, but couldn't turn down the free ride for obvious reasons.  To my pleasant surprise I found that southcentral Montana quite suited me and here I am all these years later.

***During my final year of college I was encouraged to apply for my current job at the library down the street from my alma mater.  Since I still wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up I decided to stick with libraries.  I'd more than enjoyed working in the library during my college experience.  The librarians were smart and fun and got to help people.  That seemed like a good gig and a fine group to ally myself with.  And so I became a librarian.


  1. How precious to find your calling! This fills me with joy, even if you can't travel the way you want to right now.

  2. I just love your posts. Thank you for sharing! I loved learning this about you...


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