Embrace the unexpected
Port St Mary student Kathryn Sharpe has just returned from America where she was researching the Salem witches for her history degree at York University. Here she recounts her adventure and celebrates the unexpected elements of her journey
WITH only quarter of an hour until a lecture starts, the majority of all students will reluctantly and finally accept that another five minutes in bed will probably make them late.
The rush to campus inevitably then becomes a flurry of attempting to scrub off stamps from the club, that for no logical reason we insisted be plastered on our face, and cursing as our frantic pedalling causes a near miss with the oncoming traffic.
As it is with nearly every other journey, the destination becomes our sole focus.
What if, however, we looked at it the other way, and made the process of getting from A to B more important?
This kind of philosophical reasoning is clearly not a way to excuse ourselves from being late; explaining to the professor that ‘I’m sorry I’m delayed, but I felt like a saunter through the park this morning to reflect on my feelings’ is not going to get us anywhere.
But having just returned from almost three weeks in Boston and Toronto, my overwhelming impression from the trip is that if we force ourselves to slow down, take out our headphones and be receptive to what’s around us, then the outcome can be astonishing.
It seems that embracing the unexpected, even if it’s unrelated to our destination, is one of the best attitudes we can aim to have.
Meeting a family with Isle of Man connections in Boston was the best example of this.
One of my dad’s patients had mentioned that her daughter, Ann, lived in Boston. So it was therefore that after only brief email contact shortly after I had arrived, I found myself accepting an invitation for a weekend away in Maine with her, her brother Peter and his wife’s family. I had no idea where I was going, and part way through the train journey to her house I did begin to question why it was that I had agreed to travel for almost three hours to an unknown family, state and house.
When I met Ann and Peter, however, I immediately knew why: as we cannot envision the unexpected, it is often far better than what we could have imagined.
This is not always the case, of course. The ‘cabins’ that I stayed in at the camp in New Jersey, where I worked for the summer between school and university, were decidedly much worse than expected when I heard bears prowling around their perimeter. But not only did I have a fascinating car journey with Ann and her son up to Maine, listening to their family history and debating the reasoning behind the Salem trials, I was then also greeted with amazing hospitality once in Maine.
Talking in depth with various members of the family about adventures, successes and difficulties they had encountered during their lives, I realised that being willing to take ourselves outside of our comfort zone often leads to unforgettable experiences.
Listening to their stories, it seemed that although having undergone setbacks and difficulties in knowing exactly what to do at various stages in their lives, choices they made along the way had ultimately resulted in outcomes far better than they could perhaps have imagined.
Being at a difficult stage of trying to work out my own future, it was incredibly valuable to see first-hand that the cliché ‘everything works out’ really is true after all.
My initial goal was to return from Boston armed with insightful facts and rare primary sources about the Salem witches for my studies. In the end I came back with so much more.
Having met a host of interesting people, including a seven-hour conversation on the flight home with a recent history graduate, my research trip importantly showed me that whilst it is important to have some destination in mind – we rarely walk blindly out of the door with no direction – we must also make ourselves amenable to enjoying how we get there.
We may get lost, be side-tracked or take a completely different route altogether, but in the end, the journey is what makes our destination memorable.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west