On the Edge of Uncertainty

“I need these constant changes of structures, of people, of ambiances, of languages. They are very inspiring, they’re very romantic, they make me breathe, they make me tremble, they make me live.” – Francis Mallmann

This overcast, chilly San Francisco morning, I decided to take a friend’s advice and just relax. After I left Vermont I had a very active few days in Jersey City before coming west, where I had a very active weekend camping with 40 friends north of the city. Now I plan to have a very active two weeks seeing people and revisiting some old stomping grounds before I flee the country again. So today, I started my day by watching the Chef’s Table episode about Francis Mallmann. I had no idea how much this 50 minutes of escapism would speak to me.

Francis Mallmann, celebrated Argentine chef, starts the episode by saying that his life has been dedicated to a search for freedom. He goes on to speak about the need for constant change, for getting up from your chair and being in the outdoors, for a life that eschews the office norm in favor of taking risks in an attempt to conquer something larger, for living, as he puts it, on the edge of uncertainty. In addition to these incredible philosophical statements, the show is packed with the scenery of Patagonia, where he has his own island, and Buenos Aires, where his restaurant is located.

I’m in a transitional moment – I’ve left my summer residence of Vermont but have not embarked on my next international adventure yet – during these two weeks in San Francisco, which also happens to be the place I lived and loved for 3+ years and where many of the people who mean the most to me in life still are. It would be easy to ditch my flight and just stay here. The thought has crossed my mind. But this morning, Francis Mallmann reminded me why I cannot and will not do that.

I may have completed my first life-changing goal of Round the World travel, but that doesn’t mean I will stop finding new life-changing goals. I am putting no pressure on this next trip; if I come home after Mexico City fine, if I jump down to Patagonia so be it, if I stay in Guatemala for the entire six months great. The point of this round is to challenge myself in unknown ways. I know I can travel, I know I can be alone, what don’t I know yet? I have ideas about what new directions I could take, like focusing on learning Spanish or becoming a certified diver or volunteering somewhere I find along the way, but I have no commitment to any of these. The only thing I am committed to is being open to whatever may come my way.

Because as Francis Mallmann says, it’s the constant changes that are inspiring. How could I know what I need to discover before I get to the place that will lead me to the discovery? So thank you Chef’s Table for reminding me why I am leaving again, and how exciting it is to live a life on the edge of uncertainty.


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