Passion, Purpose, Direction: A Rambly Manifesto

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I have always been envious of people who know what they want and then go for it. In college, I watched as friends pursued majors that fit their passions; they put their noses to the grindstone and churned out essays and songs and projects that interested them to the extent that they actually looked forward to doing them. They practiced and studied and pushed themselves, hoping that their work would lead them towards a fulfilling career doing something that they loved. From a distance, at least, they seemed confident in what they were doing and comfortable in the knowledge that their tenure at college was for a greater purpose. I know better than to assume that they had no anxieties or trepidations about their futures, but at the very least, they had some kind of direction. 

I was not one of those people. For most of my life, I have been adrift on a current of vague side passions and abstract ideas, never fully settling in to focus on any one thing in particular, never feeling strongly enough to hone in and buckle down, to pursue something that I might be interested in devoting my life to. Don't get me wrong: I am a passionate person. I am as intense as they come. I feel all of the feels, and then some. But more often than not, my feelings are about feelings. I've spent so much time being inwardly focused that it's been all but impossible to pay attention to the external. As a result, I've spent most of my twenties feeling utterly lost and confused. What the hell am I even here for? has become a regular part of my inner dialogue. I want to serve a purpose. I want to contribute. I want to make the world a better place. 


The past few years have been a hot mess of a struggle. They've been beautiful and full of growth, but they have been hard. When we moved to Los Angeles, I was on the verge of turning twenty-five, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. In college I got a degree in sociology and minored in Spanish simply because they were some of the only classes I actually found tolerable. The year after college was all summer camp and Hawaii and Costa Rica and boys and booze, followed by a desk job dealing with the nightmarish logistics and paperwork for shipping grains to Asia (I know...what?). In the meantime, I did photography as a hobby, started this blog without having any real purpose behind it, and just floated around, unsure of what I was doing or where I was going in life.

Sound familiar? I know I can't be alone in this. But it has felt like I am, because Dear World Wide Web: you are one braggy sonofabitch. Did you know that everyone besides you is making a difference and accomplishing things with their lives? No? Well, the internet does, and it's all it talks about. For a floater like myself, it's a whole new world of comparison and angst, and thus far it has only served to make me even floatier, unsure of where I fit in to this net of people getting shit done. Is there anything left to do that hasn't already been tackled? That photo series is such a good idea, I wish I had thought of it. Whomp whomp, woe is me. 

BUT. Yes, there is a big, glorious but to all of this. But, but, but: I think I've finally reached a turning point. If there's one thing I've always been able to count on, it's my acute case of Late Bloomer Syndrome. After several years in the real world, navigating being an adult and learning what really matters to me, I've finally been able to nail down some key issues and activities that have retained my interest and have kept me coming back for more information. 


So here's what I know:

First: I love being outside. I love the wilderness. I love the smell of the forest, the sound of the rain on the roof of a tent and the waves crashing on cliffs, the rush of the wind whistling over the mountains. I love sleeping under the stars. I love learning about park systems and the people and organizations involved in preserving and conserving open spaces. I want to be a part of that community. I want to help spread the word so that everyone can appreciate why it is so vital that we all care about the health of the earth.

Second: I love eating. I love food, and I love learning about where it comes from and discovering that there are more beneficial ways to use the land, and that it's important to support and understand the people who are striving to feed themselves and others in the most responsible and healthy way possible.

Third: I love photography. It's been a long-time hobby, and as I've tried to make it into a career, I've learned what I do and don't like to photograph; what interests me and what bores me. The most alive I have felt in the past few years has been when I am in the middle of nowhere, capturing the almost untouched beauty of a landscape or piece of nature and the people who are enjoying them as much as myself. 

Here's what I don't know: everything else. Feeling this passionate about something is a relief, but it's also opened a door to all of the things I don't know that I don't know. I haven't had any training or formal education. I know very little about the environmental movement or food sources or important people and their stories.  Some people discover their love for these things early on and get a jump start on becoming influential experts and activists and writers. I am only just now getting to my starting point. And because I am no expert, I am going to be doing all of this from the ground up; my own personal sea change initiative. Instead of being ashamed of my lack of knowledge, as I tend to do, I want to embrace it and challenge myself to grow. I'd like this blog to be a space where I can share my process of joining amateur passion with learning experiences and knowledge in a way that is beautiful and informative and interesting enough to keep motivating myself (and hopefully others) to take action and to find a sense of enjoyment in the natural world, whether it be through eating better or just getting out and climbing a mountain. 

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It feels really good to get this written out, and hopefully implementation won't be too far behind. I envision big changes for this blog, because if I don't do something soon I'm going to go crazy, and trust me, you don't want to meet crazy Rachel (just ask Toby). I envision writing more about food and policies and environmental causes and parks and explorations and everything in between, because those are the things that get my heart racing and spur me to action, even if just on a personal level (which, if you really think about it, is the most important level at all; the seeds of where any big change starts). Hopefully you'll stick with me through the transition and the inevitable messiness that is to come as I try to figure my shit out. If you have any ideas about topics or places or people that might pique my interest, I am 110% open to suggestions. Ready, set, go.

Happy Tuesday, friends.