Just Keep Swimming

This has been a week full of the unexpected. I don’t mean the good kind of unexpected, the kind that pleasantly surprises you with new friends or awesome experiences, I’m talking about the kind that sneaks up behind you and knocks you down while laughing in your face. I’ve said it before (and have repeated it to myself a thousand times over the last few days), this is all just part of the adventure. Things don’t go well, and that’s ok. There’s a season for everything.

Essentially, my job at the apple orchard is finished and I am having an insanely rough time finding another job while I’m in Hawke’s Bay. My knee wouldn’t hold up to the work of the orchard anymore unfortunately (40lbs hanging off your chest on a ladder for 10 hours a day with a bad knee is a pretty poor combo apparently), so I had to quit. I’m now jobless, can’t stay on the property I’m on anymore, and need to sell the van so that Nate and I both have a place to live and transport so we can be at our respective jobs.

Things are a struggle right now, but nobody ever said traveling was going to be easy. Although I’ve applied to dozens of places in the area that I’m in, not many people seem very excited to hire a backpacker (which I totally understand, but it’s still a bummer being on the receiving end of that conversation). There is but one course of action for me to follow…

Just keep swimming.

Although life is rough, I’m not standing still. I’m living off of the Russian proverb “A shark that doesn’t swim, drowns.” basically meaning that if you don’t keep moving forward, you die. I haven’t stopped job searching, and haven’t stopped staying busy. Being a backpacker doesn’t just mean you have extraordinary experiences, it means you persist. You strive to do the best you can in any situation. You adapt and learn to live off of the minimum, thriving in an atmosphere completely foreign to your own. Being a backpacker is so much more than just traveling and having fun. Those who wish this life for themselves, be sure that you’re up to the challenge.

I don’t mean to scare anyone off from taking on this lifestyle, because I find it to be extremely rewarding. These difficult times of uncertainty only highlight the positive experiences I have had thus far (and undoubtedly will have in the future). Had I known what difficulties (emotional, mental, and physical) await me on this adventure, I still would have jumped into it without hesitation. Despite the storm that is raging in my life right now, I’m still finding the ability to smile and appreciate it. Storms can be beautiful sometimes.

While the unfortunate circumstances seem to stack up around me, there are the bright spots that stand out. One such moment is the friendships that are growing between myself and my coworkers (or now ex-coworkers technically). We all still spend nearly all of our time together and have grown to become a family here. Although we are from all over the world, we fit together well. Another good thing that has happened is that, as of today, I’m a featured artist in one of the local coffee shops here (shout out to Sutto Caffe)! After asking around and showing some of my work, the café gladly accepted a painted guitar that I just finished. They will display the art, and sell it if someone is interested. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a bit of income this way, and becoming a featured artist in a public place is something I’ve always wanted to do!

I fully understand the wildness of my life, and that I am not alone in this journey. Countless backpackers before me have experienced this very same thing, and I’m glad to have gained this experience, because it’s forcing me to grow in new ways. I have learned a lot about myself during this tumultuous time, particularly this week, and am glad to see the changes that are being wrought in myself. Yes, I do want this unfortunate season of life to end, but I’m determined to push through and learn from it.

 I’ve just got to keep swimming.

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