Monday, October 18, 2010

Exploring the Path Less Taken

Jessie Wachter '03

       I recently read "The greatest inspiration is the deadline." Somehow, just knowing that whatever it is that you are working on or towards must be done, provides the necessary inspiration. A line is drawn in the sand and the moment it is reached, you have either succeeded or failed.
       The statement may seem like a simple journalist’s mantra, but in fact, it made me think about various stages of my life. What happens when there is no deadline? Who determines these deadlines and for that matter, the word itself, line of death, seems incredibly un-inspirational does it not?
       Growing up in the United States, we generally have a very defined path to follow which is filled with deadlines. The proverbial primary education, secondary education, university, job, marriage, children... forget about the mysterious road less traveled. There is a reason it is less traveled. It is rife with confusion and struggle. Stick to the path and it will lead you to happiness.

       I followed that path to Pacific University, am very proud of the education that I received there and am equally proud that upon graduating, I tossed my cap into the air and ran straight off the path into the mysterious unknown. I left behind the deadlines of reports and projects and homework and applications. Deadlines set by parents and teachers and employers and ran - I was free! My run soon slowed to a jog and again slowed to a stroll, where was I going?
       I realized that I was suddenly faced with not only defining my own goals, but also creating the road itself and setting my own deadlines to reach those goals. 
       With every step forward and every small goal reached, the new goals seemed to have more nebulous deadlines. Rather than specific dates, my peripatetic lifestyle was beginning to lend itself to desires that had no inherent deadline. And yet, I found no lack of inspiration. The journey had become the inspiration. For example, my desire to one day travel to India, led me first to New Orleans to work for a company that would eventually send me to India and upon arriving, the goal itself became a journey for I explored India for nearly a year, inspired every day by a new language, culture, scent, flavor or smile.
       Whereas some may be inspired by the finality and instant recognition of failure or success, a deadline can be a fantastic motivation as well as an intimidating limitation. At this point in life, I am more inspired by the surprises encountered along the way and that upon reaching one destination, for I believe deadline is a misnomer, the line is not dead, but rather an intriguing change in direction elicited by each success.
       Wachter '03 is a passionate, curious, active, empathetic and easily amused perpetual traveler. She has been to 42 countries so far and 38 of the United States and has not stopped traveling since graduation. She is currently based stateside, but will soon begin a position that will take her to back to Africa.

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