I'm writing from Copenhagen, Denmark. Just over a year ago I broke the first lumbar vertebrae of my spine. My X-Ray below kind of summarizes just how bad it was. I've always been independent and done things my own way, but lying on my back helpless, wondering if I'd ever do anything on my own again taught me just how much I desperately need to be in control of my life and destiny. In 12 feet and 1.5 seconds my life changed forever. As I recovered and eventually stumbled out of a morphine fog, I realized that change--whether good or bad--is near-instantaneous. Bad things disrupt our lives and change our trajectory, but I wondered why can't good things happen just as quickly? Perhaps destruction is always quicker than construction....at the time it was a twinge of self-pity, I suppose, but the idea that good things can happen that change our life for the better in an instant became a thought that I never let go of.
Starting back at my job behind a desk, dealing with both irate customers (and the occasional colleague) who didn't know their job function even if you tattooed it on their right hand, became more difficult than ever, but I'm actually not sure what was worse--the pain that shot from my spine down to my legs and back--or the thought that unless something good or bad happened to change my trajectory, this is exactly where I'd be in 10 or 20 or 30 years.
I'm by no means wealthy. I'm 25 and have struggled to earn probably just a little less than your average taxpayer. I thought that dedication and hard work would lead to pay raises and promotions, but at the rate I was going, I was barely competing with inflation. During the day my thoughts would shift to the one thing I loved more than anything: baking. Whereas some girls of my age spend their extra money and time on going out with friends or shopping for new handbags, I spent all my extra time in the kitchen experimenting with flour, sugar, butter, eggs and heat. And I spent all my extra money on that, too. Croissants, breads, macarons, tarts were my best friends. Late nights for me left me hungover from a lack of sleep rather than overindulgence in cosmos and cabernets. Rolling pins and perfect macarons were what I lived for.
And then one particular day while listening to my boss carry on about how I have to bend over backwards for the fucktards I work with, I had two consecutive daydreams. As my thoughts wandered back to my original curiosity about whether or not life can change for the better in the same amount of time as it had changed mine for the worse I began to also daydream about how I could be perfecting croissants lamination technique. And that's when it hit me. The future of my life was clear: I should bake, I am a baker, it's in my blood, it's all I want to do. It's what I think of in the morning, it's what I think about no matter how exhausted I am. The only instant event that could change my life forever, and change my trajectory from dealing with US customs was an event that had been there all my life. Every day it followed me around, just waiting for permission to take over, just waiting for me to acknowledge its presence. What was this cataclysmic event, you ask? A decision.
A life I always wanted simply required only that I decide to do what I love. I'd have to accept uncertainty and all kinds of unanswered questions and the potential possibilities of failure, but also all kinds of possibilities of self discovery and potentially very positive results.
And with that, I bought a ticket, boarded a plane, and landed in Denmark. Over the next several months, I'll cook and eat my way through as many countries in Europe as possible. I will learn as much as I can from anyone who'll teach me the secrets of their trade. I'm trusting that my passion for what I do will break down language barriers, open up opportunities and provide me with the knowledge and skills I need to be successful for when I return to my 'normal' life. But most of all, these next few months will change the trajectory of my life forever. So much so that when someone in 2 or 5 or 10 years asks me, "how did you make it to this point in your life?" I'll say, "In 2014, my life changed in an instant. I made the decision to do what I loved, which--no surprise--led to a life I love."