Catching the Tradewinds: A Journey Towards Purpose

When I was in high school I moved from the safe, comfortable town I was raised in, to a place completely across the country. There were hardly two towns as different as Glen Ridge, New Jersey and Dana Point, California.

All my life I had been raised by my Western Parents that New Jersey was unfriendly and cold. I was not at all prepared for the arctic tundra of the tropical beach community that awaited me. Beautiful in outward appearances, thats true! I will never forget my little fifteen year old spirit walking by the bench in front of school during registration.

"Hi!" I said brightly to the girl on the bench. ("Might she be someone to sit next to during lunch hour?" I hoped.) She looked right through me and mumbled a "hi" in return. I would write very optimistic and newsy letters to my Northeastern friends.

"Wow, I can see the beach from Dana Hills!" and "I rode a boogey board for the first time today." and "Did you know our school has a surf team and the teachers wear shorts?"

I would write long letters as I perched on a hillside, overlooking the ocean. I spent many afternoons there after school. The sun kissed my cheeks and the wind hugged my skin, keeping me cool. When it was really clear, I could see Catalina Island. Nonetheless, I grew to love my surroundings. I found a group of friends. I got a great tan, and even occassionally spoke with the trademark Southern California "fer sure". One thing I knew for certain. I did not want my life to be filled with people who looked past or through other people. I knew I wanted to be among people who did not just envelope themselves in beauty.

I wanted to be among people who knew what true beauty means. How it feels. How it smells. It is almost twenty years ago since I graduated from Dana Hills High School. Most of my classmates have no idea where I am. I have never attended any of my reunions. I have only kept in contact with one person. In my mind's eye, I can see myself, at 15, looking out over the serene Dana Point Harbor, with the words of Mark Twain dancing in my waking dreams. "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." In the twenty years since I left Dana Point permanently, I have been many places. I have studied at the United Nations. I have interviewed countless PhD's and scholars. I have appeared on TV and radio. I have had two babies die. I have had two babies live. I have adopted a daughter. I have had a marriage fail. I have touched lives in ways only I could. I have discovered that within the darkest depths of despair, joy can be found.

And now, I am embarking on a new career. I am sailing away from my safe harbor. The sun is kissing my cheeks. The wind is hugging me. The tradewinds are pushing me, filling my sails. I am exploring. I am dreaming. I am discovering. And I am coming alongside others, encouraging them as they throw off their bowlines. As they sail away from their safe, comfy harbors. Is the sun kissing your cheeks? Is the wind hugging your skin? Explore! Dream! Discover!

-- By Julie Jordan Scott
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