I am reading a life/travel memoir about a woman who, 48 years old and recently divorced, unbinds herself from her material possessions and takes off to travel the world — indefinitely. Her book, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, tells the story of a woman reborn. Disillusioned with her previous way of living and open, for the first time, to the dreams and desires within her, Rita Golden Gelman shuns the conventionality of a “home base” and instead spends months or years living in different locations around the globe, plugging herself into local communities and absorbing the cultures that surround her.
But Gelman’s new way of life is unconventional, and three years into her nomadic existence, her American friends continue to ask her when she’ll finally end her wandering ways and return to the “real world.” Her response is confident and wonderful:
No matter how often I ask myself if I’m running away from something, I always get the same answer. No, I’m not running away. On the contrary, I’ve discovered a new way to live.
My life is endlessly fascinating, filled with learning, adventure, interesting people, new and enlightening experiences. I laugh, sing and dance more than I ever have. I am becoming the person inside me.
Becoming the person inside you. Isn’t that what life is all about, ultimately? And does it really matter which path — direct or circuitous, conventional or unconventional — you take to get there? As long as you are walking a path that makes your eyes shine and your heart beat with anticipation, keep going. Follow that path — your path — the one that takes you to the person inside you.
You don’t have to travel the world as Gelman did to live a life that excites you. We’re all different people with different dreams. But one day you may have to make a decision or choose a direction that takes you outside the box of what others expect. Do this with confidence and conviction, as Gelman did. It’s your path, after all. Your path deserves to be walked.