Monday, September 10, 2012

A Graduation Speech

My last perfect sunset over Farellones...bittersweet, this was home for 3 months.

Hey, everyone…thanks for coming along on this crazy ride. It’s difficult for me to fathom that it’s been over a year since I started this journey. Miraculously, the world has done one solid revolution, it’s still spinning and I’m still standing, I guess, that’s how it goes. But I suppose that is like every earth-shattering, life changing event; it only seems that way to the person that got shook, who felt the tremors, who had to pick themselves back up off the ground. To the rest of the world it’s just a Monday, and you, you feel like you just opened your eyes for the first time in your existence. I feel like my eyes have been stapled open, every day a fresh shake, every day a new start; every day has been a Saturday. However, that kind of ride doesn’t last forever. It can’t, right?

So now, I’m rounding that final curve and my next stop isn’t somewhere exotic doing something strange, it’s even bigger than that: I’m going home. I’m going to my real home where family, friends that have managed not to move away, and stuff that I packed up and left behind await me.

But I think this is going to be the biggest challenge yet. Life on the road, life on the move, life without an agenda has become my norm. Part of my fears are how well can I slide back into convention. Or more importantly, do I really want to? Absolutely I’ve had my moments of longing for all the things that have been left behind. I’ve missed the face to face conversations with people that I love. I’ve missed the warmth of a hug. I’ve missed the real-time response that a smile from a familiar face can give me. I’ve missed having my own space, my own kitchen, a shower with consistent water temperature and access to clean laundry. I’ve missed the food, knowing street names and at times I’ve even missed my car.

Soon I’ll have all those things again, and my fear is the opposite of what it was a year ago. It’s not about facing the unknown, but about living a life that is safe, predictable, conventional…everything that pushed me onto a plane in the first place. I have this inkling that I’ll miss all that has made this year so spectacular; the unpredictability, every day making new friends, every day not knowing what unforgettable thing is in store for me. Can I hold on to this spirit of adventure when I “know” so much of what already surrounds me?
I suppose you could say that I’m staring my graduation in the face. And perhaps, like every grad wondering if all my recently acquired skills will guide me in this new world. When embarking on this adventure a year seemed like a long time. In practice it went so much faster than I ever expected. Of course it did. If there was any lesson that I kept re-learning it was that time is perhaps the most subjective thing in our human experience. But it’s still shocking. So now I have to ask myself:  did I learn all the things I set out to learn? Was this everything I thought it would be? Did life school adequately prepare me for the road ahead? Do I need to get myself a PhD?

I have learned a lot. I feel like I did grow a bit and found out who this Claudia girl really was. It turns out, she’s a bit different than the girl she thought she was. I can have fun, let go and just let things happen. Unexpectedly, I’m a bit more durable than your average hiking boot, can repair from bumps and bruises and have a pretty high tolerance for cold. I never knew that I liked people as much as I do or that it was so easy to make friends. I never thought I would see myself dance, comfortably speak another language, or think hitching was the preferred mode of transport. Under all of it though, there is this girl I recognize, below the dirty clothes, the dirty nails, the disheveled hair, I found that girl that I used to be, the one I thought I lost. Not the one who got buried in “career” and “house” and “responsibility” and forgot that there is so much more to life than just going through the motions. I found the one who yelled at me, “You get to do this amazing thing, you get to pick your purpose, you get to direct your path, you get to LIVE your life!” So those tremors that no-one else was feeling, yeah, they knocked me around a bit and reminded me to be that girl that wakes up every morning grateful. You know why? Because my life doesn’t have to be a perpetual Monday, it’s a blessing, a surprise, a chance.

So here we are. Looking forward, looking back, taking a deep breath and deciding…which way to go. Do I follow convention and a return to my previous career? Do I follow my heart and let things unfold as they may. Do I maybe…get a PhD? 

That, after all, might not be such a bad idea. It’s definitely something to consider. There is so much more to learn, so much more to see…so, so much more. 


  1. Love this. Your writing is so refreshing. I feel I can relate to this post in so many ways. I feel I can relate to you in so many ways. Thank you for writing. It's nice to hear others with similar struggles.

  2. Claudia, I will miss your well-written and photo documented posts. Through your stapled-open eyes, I have experienced an entire world of new ideas and experiences, which many of us never dream to see, or even consider. I admire your courage and curiosity and willingness to share all your internal and external struggles and triumphs, which face each of us—although in different ways—along life's journey. I, for one, am so grateful for the opportunity to audit your class for the last year. It's made me feel closer to the world and expect more from it and myself. Cheers!

    P.S. You might consider making an ebook out of your blog using as site like