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That Moment When Everything Changed

“I wonder if I should have a change — a year in Europe this time — something new, something better, perhaps. A life has to move or it stagnates. Even this life, I think. It is no good telling yourself that one day you will wish you had never made that change; it is no good anticipating regrets. Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday…

It seems remarkable to me at least that if I had not gone to Molo, I might never have seen New York, nor learned to fly a plane, nor learned to hunt elephant, nor, in fact, done anything except wait for one year to follow another… How can the course of a life be changed by a word spoken on a dusty road?”
– Beryl Markham, West With The Night

In this last year of the pandemic, with borders closed and wandering spirits limited to adventures of the local kind, it’s easy to throw your hands up in frustration at the “one days” that are postponed. Of one year following another with a measure of stasis unfamiliar and a bit uncomfortable. If we’re fully engaged we learn to make do, to thrive really, in those local adventures and appreciate what we have in our own back yard.

You want a quick adventure? Click on the link above and read Markham’s book. Put aside the disgust of elephant hunting for this one (it was a different time) and immerse yourself in the perspective of an adventurous soul and a brilliant writer. Growing up in Kenya a hundred years ago, training thoroughbreds before pivoting to flying.

Markham’s life changed when she met a man repairing his car who flew in the first World War and would soon teach her to fly. He sparked her imagination with possibility, and the rest of her life sprouted from that spark. She quickly charms you and makes you wish you’d met her in the brief time we breathed the same air. If I’d read this book at twenty I might have dropped everything and flown straight to adventure myself.

So why not now? As with many adventurous role models, she makes you wonder; what is our own pivot? What is your moment that changes everything? It may not be a chance encounter, it might just be a small leap into the unknown. We’ve learned a lot about the world and ourselves over the last year. If there’s one clear lesson from all of it, it’s that the world was always trying to tell us something. But we were too busy distracting ourselves to pay attention.

“The world does not act on us as much as it reveals itself to us and we respond.” – Shane Parrish, The Great Mental Models, Volume I

How will we respond to the last twelve months that changed everything? And what shall we make of our future? Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday. Our one day can begin today. We don’t have to rely on some chance encounter with someone who teaches us to fly. That moment that changes everything can, indeed must, be this one. Flying requires summoning the courage to start down the runway and the accumulated experience to soar.

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