Photo: Lewis Tse Pui Lung/Shutterstock

Trust Life: The Journey Begins Where the Road Ends

by Leigh Shulman Dec 29, 2010
This has been one hell of a year!

It feels like New Year’s Eve 2010 was far more than only one year ago. Enough has happened to fill five.

Last year, I was in Israel this time. We couchsurfed in Zurich. I went to Burning Man, started learning fire spinning with a staff and finally got my Argentine identity card.

The really big news in my life, though, is my new baby. No, I’m not pregnant. I’m about to close on a house here that will be the base of a new international arts and education community center. This is the culmination of all the various odd jobs and experiences I’ve had in my life. It is an enormous amount of work, but we talk here at Matador of living the dream – and for me, this is it!

The Challenge of 2010

My biggest challenge this year has been to learn patience and how not to be too attached to any one idea or outcome.

About a month and a half ago, I heard from The Big University who had agreed to fund our arts program that they wanted to put things “on hold.” I asked if they had a time line for this hold. Nope. None at all.

It was particularly frustrating to hear this after modifying our original plan to suit their guidelines and spending countless hours navigating the rather complex legal documents required for a US university to form an exchange program with an Argentine university.

What Could I Do?

We changed direction. We went back to our original plan. And you know what, I’m much happier this way. Now, we work on our own terms with artists, educators and organizations to create something with no strings attached. No, we may not have the funding we want, but we have a much stronger, more cohesive and exciting idea. We will find what we need.

Thus I’m slowly learning how every direction you take in life has its benefits. When one road closes, forcing you onto another path, you will also find benefits in that direction. Better yet, what you find will be bigger, more beautiful and more fulfilling than trying to muscle your way down a road that has closed to you.

Could it all fall through again? Yes. It might. I hope not, but if it does, that is just Life’s way of saying, “Hey, try something else.”

It All Works Out In The End

Not many people know this.

I’m slowly learning how every direction you take in life has its benefits.

My first night at Burning Man, I sat in the Temple steeped in self-evaluation, fully cognizant of the fact I had way too much going on. Our program with the university had taken over everything, and every day felt like a series of checklists as I ran from one to the other, never reaching the end, never feeling rested, happy or complete.

Yet I was editor of Matador Life, the blog on this network designed to help people escape exactly what I was experiencing. I felt like a hypocrite. That’s when I decided I couldn’t do it anymore.

When I came back from Burning Man, I told Nick Rowlands, my fantastic co-editor, I was leaving. You know what he said to me? He said it would be a shame and a real loss for Matador. Then he asked me what we could do as a team to convince me to stay.

I was touched. I have never, ever worked anywhere that people have cared enough about my presence to make changes in their own busy schedules to keep me around. How could I possibly leave this? So I decided to try again, see if I could manage the balance of everything.

Soon after, The Big University called to tell me of the demise of our program. They ultimately gave me just what I needed.

So now, here I am, doubly dedicated to this amazing group of people: the team here at Life, everyone at Matador Network and all of you, the Matador community. I am so lucky to be here with you and grateful for all you have given me, given us over the last year.

What Happened At Matador Life in 2010?

2010 was a fantastic year for us. Our team has grown. Some of your favorite articles made their ways to top spots on Digg. We’ve been interviewed by the BBC and seen our audience expand to include all types of people of all ages from all over the world.

We developed two new series.

The Love In the Time Of Matador series, or mLove, as we affectionately call it, explores the changing styles of love and relationship for people who see things just a bit differently, for whom staying in one place or loving only one person is no longer a given.

As with love, career is also foremost on people’s minds. The traditional jobs that used to bring money and prestige – doctor, lawyer, banker — no longer hold the same weight or stability. So we developed How’d You Get That Gig, interviews with people who have carved out a niche for themselves going beyond the expected and ordinary. We ask questions not just so you can marvel at what these people do but also hear how they found their jobs and careers, paving the way for you to do something similar, should you so choose.

What’s New In 2011?

Any true traveler knows that where you came from shapes your journey. This is where I turn to all of you to tell us about your origins and influences.

We want to hear your home town narratives, growing up narratives and personal experiences of growth both on the road or wherever you settle. Do you have favorite recipes you’ve learned along the way? Have you learned important lessons about how to handle stress, depression, loneliness or anything else that has touched your lives?

We want to hear your home town narratives, growing up narratives and personal experiences of growth both on the road or wherever you settle.

These are just some of the subjects we will cover in writing and photos in this coming year.

These days are overwhelming. Everything changes so rapidly – technology, economy, health care, leadership, even the structure of the planet shakes us and changes the human landscape. Change, though, offers a wealth of opportunity and choice never before seen.

We want to provide you with ideas and inspiration to navigate this brave new world of ours and learn how to face our frustrations, obstacles and challenges as we move into a future in which anything is possible.

Now let’s get to it!

Community Connection

Is there anything else you’d like to see added to Life? Share in the comments!

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