Spots of Time

February 18, 2003

A Curve Ball You Can Catch

I woke up this morning in a corporate apartment in Sydney's Darling Harbor. My apartment. In Sydney. I got ready, made coffee, ate breakfast and walked across the bridge to my office. Day two of corporate life in Australia had just begun.

Last weekend I packed all of my belongings and left my life in Melbourne, my home for the last three months. A few days before, I'd been offered and accepted a one month contract to work in the Sydney offices of an American technology company. It all happened so fast. One day I was waitressing in Melbourne and the next I was flying to Sydney for an interview with the CEO. Before I knew it I was reading my contract which listed my position as the "Company Technical Writing project manager and Company Public Relations advisor (for Asia Pacific regional activities)." What was I getting myself into it?

It is ironic how life throws you a curve ball just when you are comfortable thinking you have things all planned out. Just a few weeks ago I put together my "Master Plan" for my upcoming round-the-world travel schedule. Though there were still a few holes, I was confident that the next few months were pretty secure. I would work in Melbourne until the end of February, go to Tasmania at the start of March and then travel up the coast to Cairns. There was no place in my "Master Plan" for a stint doing corporate work in Australia's largest city.

But, the job came at the perfect time and offered amazing benefits I could not pass up - the chance to live in Sydney, a fully furnished and paid apartment, the opportunity to work in corporate Australia, and more money that I would ever make waitressing in Melbourne. Even so, I debated the idea for a while - because it wasn't part of "the plan." Then I remembered my first big trip to South America.

I was twenty three and had never travelled on my own. I had spent weeks planning and perfecting my trip, including where I would go and what I would see. My priorities for the trip included seeing Angel Falls in Venezuela, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Macchu Picchu in Peru. After four months I returned home without accomplishing one item on my priorities list. Was I disappointed? No. Did I have a rotten time? No. Should my trip be considered a failure? No. The simple truth was, for various reasons, my plans just changed. And, in the end, my trip was defined not by what I did not do, but all the wonderful things I did - many of which would not have been possible if I had stuck to my original plan.

Before I left for the interview, Lindsay told me that this opportunity was a curve ball, but "a curve ball I could catch." She said it was exciting to think of how many curve balls I would be thrown in my upcoming travel adventures and that it would be totally up to me what I decided to do with them. I had never thought of it that way. In the end, I decided to go with this one. As for the future curve balls, I'll cross that base when I come to it.