I stumbled upon the Holstee Manifesto in December of 2010. There was something that resonated deep within my core as I read each line. It seemed to echo the thoughts in my head and identified with me on such a profound level at the exact point that I needed it. Having graduated from college in the Spring of that year, I had been trying to reconcile between my ever-present thirst for adventure and the reality of the post-college world since taking off my cap and gown. I wanted to do something different before jumping into a serious career path off the bat, and began to search for opportunities to chase a new experience in whatever form that could take. I was offered an opportunity to volunteer for a year for a youth-empowerment program through an Americorps position in Oregon. Something about the position and interview felt right, so I took it. Three weeks later, I called my best friend to see if she would be down for the roadtrip, packed up my car, and the two of us drove the 4,325 miles across the country to Oregon. I had never been there before, didn’t know anybody, and frankly had no idea what I was in for. “Some opportunities only come once, seize them.” Yes, but then sometimes you seize them and then you freak out once you get there. What did I do? What if this wasn’t the right decision? I missed all of my friends and family back home and was completely unsure if my leap-before-you-look personality was finally about to bite me in the butt. Two months later, in the midst of settling in to my Americorps position while trying to make connections with people and learn a new place, I was diagnosed with Melanoma. That night I was on the red-eye flight home, driven to the hospital the next day, and began the process of surgery, x-rays, blood work, concern in the faces of loved ones, and the inevitable waiting. My cancer was caught in the first stage—I was extremely lucky and am so thankful to report that it went as well as it could have gone. However, you can’t go through an experience like that without diving into a few emotions and learning a couple of things in the process. The first thought was the fragility of our position. Life doesn’t wait to ask you when something is convenient, it doesn’t ask for your permission, and you can’t control it. Life is short. I don’t think we can fully grasp how easily it can slip out of our fingers and so we pretend like we can control everything. However, the only thing that we can control is how we will live it, what we will value, and how we will respond. The second was that, at the end of the day, life is about people. That’s it. It’s the people you chose to love and the people you give your time to. It’s how you make people feel when they meet you at a party, serve you at a coffee shop, or sit next to you on the train. When you are faced with a threat in your life, what do you think about? You don’t think about the new pair of jeans you bought and you don’t care about your dream house or next promotion. You think about your mom, your best friend, your grandfather… The regret people have the most often is that they didn’t spend enough time, didn’t say that one thing, didn’t love enough…when your life takes a turn and you find yourself in a tough place, it’s the people you care about that you need and want there. Everything else is only details. I got back to Oregon as soon as I was cleared to leave. I then continued to have one of the best years of my entire life: full of camping, long hikes, craft ales, good company, bike rides and local foods. I was able to make an impact in the lives of youth while also having the adventure of a lifetime—and I could not have been more thankful by how it turned out. Without taking that leap, and experiencing the inevitable initial fear of the whole thing, I would never have had that entire experience. And without the scar on my left arm from where my cancer was removed, I would never have known how much it meant to me. I saw the Manifesto a month after I returned back to Oregon. It echoed everything that I had been processing in my mind after experiencing the life jolt that I did. It made me realize that I was a part of a larger community of people who valued the same things that I did and who wanted to see them realized fully in their lives. It was an encouragement and an affirmation, one that I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life.

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