Personal · Travel Tales · Two Cents

Dear fellow travelers, it’s probably your fault that I’ve just quit my job

Right now, I feel as though I’m in one of the scariest places I’ve ever been in. I’ve been working since graduating from college, and I’ve been so used to counting my 20s based on school years. I’ve been so used to getting my salary twice a month. And now I’ve just resigned from the school where I’ve been teaching for seven years now.

I could chalk it up to many other things, of course, such as the proverbial seven-year itch and the need to move on professionally. Yet I’ve also been wondering if I was brave enough to leave because I’ve been brave enough to travel alone. And of course, I’ve been thinking that I was brave enough to travel alone only because I’ve been inspired by a lot of solo travelers’ blogs.

Times like these, I recall that time I went traveling solo in Dumaguete and surrounding areas. I know, I know — five days alone in another part of my own country is laughable to other solo travelers. But I think I’m less afraid of the unknown now that I’ve traveled. I now know better than to stay in one place because there’s so much of the world out there; I just need to take a deep breath and go, even though I’m alone. And I’ve accepted that I need to let go of some baggage before I could move on.

I am not quitting my job so that I could spend six months in Southeast Asia or around the world. Frankly, I don’t think I have the constitution to do that. And I don’t want traveling to be something I’m going to do for years at a time. What I think I’d like to do full-time, all my life, is just to be a gurô, a teacher. Being a lakwatsera, a bum traveler, is a lesser priority. But traveling has obviously changed how I view my life and career.

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When I said goodbye to my students, I returned to the legend of Icarus — one of the stories from classical mythology that we took up last June. It’s one of my favorite stories: wearing wings made by his father Daedalus, the boy Icarus, drunk with freedom and youthful recklessness, flew too close to the sun, melting the wax holding the feathers on his wings together, and fell to the sea.

I recalled, then, the first line of the poem by Jack Gilbert entitled “Falling and Flying”: “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” I told my students that it’s okay to fly close to the sun and fall to the sea, that it’s okay to take risks — for the best of us can swim back to the shore, anyway. I also told them that taking a risk is exactly what I’m trying to do right now.

So after my last class, some of my students came to me and hugged me, and one said, “Good luck, miss! Go and fly — but don’t forget to wear sunblock!”

See, this is why I like teaching — wisdom comes in funny, unlikely moments.

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3 thoughts on “Dear fellow travelers, it’s probably your fault that I’ve just quit my job

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