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A Fork in the Road

My WWOOFing journey began February 23rd, 2015. The first destination was in Ridgeville, South Carolina. Since then, I made my way across the country and eventually found myself in Northern California at a farm I now call my second home. That may seem to some like a trip of a lifetime. This is only the beginning. The distance traveled externally does not compare to how far I’ve come internally. Through this journey I was given many opportunities for personal growth, learning, and expansion of the mind. I can think of no other choice in my life that has had such a positive impact as this one.

I have many people to thank for giving me what I needed before and on the journey. The most important is most certainly my father. It was just less than a year before my departure that he convinced me to become a member of the WWOOF organization. We were already doing much of this at home so I did have an initial interest in the area of permaculture and self-sufficiency.

At the time, my only obligations were work and bills. I was living to work and working to live, saving money when I could for the things I’ve come to truly enjoy like traveling and live music. But this wasn’t enough. It felt like a hollow shell of what most people call happiness. I was lost. I’d felt this for some time and, up to that point, hadn’t done anything about it that could have any long term effect. For 4 months I looked at the WWOOF site off and on with little interest beyond just that. After moving home, I spent 3 more months commuting an hour to work for a job I’d been ready to leave 3 month into starting. The salary as a carwash manager was better than most hourly positions not requiring a college degree, but my happiness was suffering for it. I finally put in my two weeks’ notice at the beginning of October 2014. Between that day and the day I left, the struggle was very real. I had so many questions that could only be answered after leaving and venturing into the unknown.

Change rarely comes without resistance, even for the things we truly desire. Making the decision to leave what we consider comfortable can be a very daunting task; a path that may not always be easy, but can be simple. That is not the path I took. Although I knew what choices I needed to make and how to prepare for the opportunity in front of me, I chose to avoid the thought of the unknown and do what gave me comfort. I went out with friends and spent a large portion of what I had saved doing things that were mostly unproductive towards my WWOOFing goal. When I wasn’t out doing something with friends I was usually at home watching TV and/or surfing social media like the vast majority of people my age in this country. It wasn’t until about a week before leaving that I truly committed myself mentally to the plan I had laid out for myself over the preceding 4 months.

I hold no regrets for the decisions I made then because it served as a great learning experience. Now, that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the same fun and entertainment I did before. The difference is that now I have a new focus – one that would have been very unlikely had I stayed in the same place. I needed change. I needed new scenery and new people. I needed a new experience. I needed to go where I wasn’t spending the majority of my time around people I knew because that almost always comes with some level of expectation. That being said, these things were not as clear at that time as they are now. Increasing clarity of my personal needs and wants came slowly as time progressed.

The path I find myself on now is one that runs deeper than the roots of any tree and farther than any eye can see. I know there will always be more to learn and the experience never truly comes to an end. My current interests focus mainly in permaculture and taking an active role in the movement of change I’d like to see in this world. In doing so, I hope to learn something new every day and improve myself along with those around me. At the end of the day, we can only make choices for ourselves and lead by example.

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