As a sixteen-year-old, the thought of replacing air conditioning with cow manure was unfathomable.
From a young age, my family took my sister and me on one vacation a year to expose us to different U.S. cities. That year, we were going to visit a cattle ranch.
In Montana. To work.
As a suburban-raised wide-eyed teenager eager to explore the bright lights of fast-paced big cities that need only be referenced by acronyms – SF, DC, NYC – literally nothing could be worse.
It remains my favorite vacation to this day.
We giggled while wrangling cattle. I patiently taught myself how to lasso. We marveled while exploring ancient cave paintings and bonded while riding horses across the horizon. We shared s'mores around the fire while I spent night after night captivated by the flickering palette of an expansive sky littered with more stars than I'd ever seen before.
That vacation taught me that there is more to life than the daily grind to which I often fall victim, but sometimes I have to slow down and step outside my comfort zone to recognize it. In doing so, I often discover the things that wind up mattering most to me.
I can't tell you what I'll do with my life, but thanks to Montana I can tell you how I'll do it:
Laughing, loving, and all the while remembering to slow down and appreciate the stars.