How a Gap Year Abroad Gave Me a Break from My To-Do Lists
We awoke before the sun’s web-like rays had cradled the Kathmandu valley to venture an hour’s drive away from the city.
Each minute seemed to take us leagues away from the metropolis. As we climbed higher up the roads, fog’s dewey fingers clutched us closer and closer until we were so suffocated by its presence that the driver insisted we walk the remainder of the way.
Our destination was a restaurant that boasted jaw-dropping views. Hardly able to distinguish the front steps in such fog, we took their word for it and shuffled on towards breakfast. When we emerged from the dining hall an hour later, the fog had lifted and like the curtains at a grand opera, revealed the masterpiece that lay beyond: 180 degrees of majestic Himalayan mountains.
I remained paralyzed by their massive stature for several minutes before beginning a five-hour hike back down into Kathmandu Valley.
For as long as I can remember, there has always been something on the horizon that must be done. Even in summer. Especially over breaks.
The wafts of solitude and fresh air made me realize how much stress has been lifted off my shoulders since leaving Colorado.
For as long as I can remember, there has always been something on the horizon that must be done. Even in summer. Especially over breaks. There is always a sports try-out to train for, an independent study to complete and a plethora of books to meticulously annotate.
But now, 18,000 kilometers away, I feel… light! It is as if every choice I make, ever step I take is by my own accord!
I can stop books after the third page, watch a full episode of television, and go two days without running hill sprints!
What bliss there is to be found in the voids between activities! If I had committed to a school by now or even to a school for after my gap year abroad, there is no doubt in my mind that the cycle of to-dos would never have stopped, making this level of guilt-free lightness unattainable, locked in a transparent box labeled “do not touch”.
But my choice to “seize the gap (year)” could not have come at a better time as there are two other “gap year musketeers” in my travel group here.
If I had committed to a school by now or even to a school for after my gap year, there is no doubt in my mind that the cycle of to-dos would never have stopped.
One is 42, the other 34 years of age. Despite our similar choice to take a year off and travel/work around the world, the timing in our lives makes our journeys strikingly different. They have brought to my attention that, even if I could squeeze out the time to do extended travel during my career, I would be bogged down by the situations they find themselves in: keeping up with co-workers to stay informed, calling fiances, paying bills online, contacting offsprings… the list goes on.
Not only do they have far more restrictions, they also have fewer opportunities remaining to pursue after their “year of self-realization” concludes. So the saying stands; seize today (because it only gets harder tomorrow).