In Greek lore, Sisyphus is tasked with rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain every day, just to have it roll back down past him when the sun sets. It’s an impossible task, his everlasting punishment handed down by Zeus. Day after day Sisyphus lives the same tortured, impossible afterlife with no reprieve in sight. It does, without a doubt, suck to be Sisyphus.
I’ve been thinking a lot about impossible things lately. I had a lot of time to think as I hiked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago in May and June. I’ve had even more time to think this summer, one I spent back home in Crawfordsville, IN with my parents, my brothers, and my pets. On Friday I’ll begin a 26-hour travel day to Hanoi, Vietnam, where I will begin 5 months of teaching English to some Vietnamese youngsters. Again, I’ll be afforded lots of time to think about what I’ve just committed myself to doing. So, yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about things I previously thought impossible, only to sail right past them.
Quit a great job in a nice place full of good friends to leap into uncertainty. Impossible. Done it.
Walk across an entire country with nothing but a backpack and a couple hiking poles. Very close to impossible I discovered, but another item checked off my list.
Spend another summer break with my family. That one was rather easy actually.
Move to and teach in a foreign country in which I have no prior experience or knowledge. Well, I’m about to find out if I can do it. But impossible? I don’t think so, not anymore.
I’m excited to keep on stretching my comfort zone and abilities to continue discovering this wide world. Nothing seems truly impossible to me anymore. I’ve rolled my boulder to the mountain peak and I’ve pushed it over the edge. Sitting on top of the Pyrenees on Day 1 of the Camino de Santiago, nothing felt out of reach. I was exhausted, already had blistered feet, and an entire country lay in wait below my boots. But there it was, in all its glory, waiting for me. Everything I’ve ever wanted — adventure in every sense of the word — was right there in front of me. I never want to give that feeling up.
My nerves have been a little out of control the past few days, evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this at 1 a.m. instead of sleeping soundly. The excitement of a new adventure just over the horizon is worth losing some sleep over. I have no idea what life is going to be like in Vietnam. I hope for a lot of things — that the people are kind, that my students like me, that I make a difference in their lives, that I leave the country a different, better man — but they’re all just hopes and dreams for now. All that’s left to do is begin another impossible journey. I know everything will work out as it should; good things normally do and I think this could be a very good thing.
So here’s to the impossible things, and climbing mountains to prove that they were never impossible in the first place. Trust me, a few blisters on your feet are worth the view from the top. Onward and upward.