Matador Life Comes Home

by Leigh Shulman Oct 12, 2009

Lila and I on the beach in Panama / Photo: Leigh Shulman

What can you expect now that Matador Life has a new editor?

The best advice I ever received came from a wonderful woman I met while studying forest conservation in Brazil’s Mata Atlantica, a subtropical rainforest just outside of Rio de Janeiro.

This woman, Amanda, is the sort whose presence makes you feel immediately at ease. You just know with her that everything will turn out right. I spoke to her one lovely evening sitting on the beach. I had no idea what I’d awaited me in the US once summer ended. No job, no apartment, no plans, and I was worried.

“Leigh,” she told me, “Trust life.”

It sounded great in the moment, sitting there drinking strong coffee and listening to the waves. Of course, life will bring me whatever I need. Her words, however, turned slippery and elusive as I sat on the airplane back to Brooklyn.

Trust life? How?

If something seems overwhelming or even impossible, say yes anyway.

The other day, my five-year-old daughter Lila asked me, “Mama, what happens if you touch the sun?” How would you answer her question?

Find a way to make the impossible a reality, because nothing is too big, too far, or too much, unless you decide it is.

You can see what you already-know in a way you’ve never-before-seen by simply taking the world, turning it slightly and looking from a different angle. The other day, my five-year-old daughter Lila asked me, “Mama, what happens if you touch the sun?” How would you answer her question?

I believe in collaboration. Many voices make for a richer more beautiful song, and I hope all of you will not only return to read Matador Life, but add your tone in comments and perhaps through your own submissions.

What It Means to Thrive Between Trips

Travel, it seems, comes in stages. The first, you just want to be out there on the move. I felt this way when my family – husband Noah, Lila and I – sold everything we owned and left Brooklyn to travel the world. I didn’t look back.

But constant movement can be exhausting. You move onto stage two, where you still want the strange and different travel brings, but at a slower pace. That’s when we rented a small wooden house on a tiny island off the Caribbean coast of Panama and lived there for six months. We always knew, though, we would move on.

Finally, we wanted roots, a place to be comfortable. We wanted to go home.

Now, home means many a varied thing, but I posit a few commonalities. Home means you make a commitment. Those commitments can arrive in the form of payments, work, someone you love, so you stop moving for a while. You no longer expand your world by the distance you cover, and instead cultivate your mind and yourself while standing in one spot.

Matador Life, as I see it, is about existence in that third place.

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