In the weeks leading up to Spring Break, as I thought about what my experience had been like as an MBA1 so far, there was a common theme in many of my stories: I felt out of control. In diving head-first into my new New York life, and into the Stern experience, I couldn’t think of one area in which I firmly believed I had it completely together. I hadn’t had control of most of the classes I took, I felt out of control in the process of tech recruiting, I was having trouble balancing my social life between my new friends, my old friends, and even my family, and I couldn’t control the amount of pizza and beer I was taking in.
This theme continued during my Spring Break trek to Patagonia. The signs were there even before we left New York. Every sentence we articulated seemed to begin with: “Sam, do you know…?”, in the hopes that our trek leader would be able to predict what we should expect. The first few days spent in Santiago and Valparaiso were a whirlwind of an experience. Looking back, it almost seems like our days spent outside Patagonia were merely meant to ease us into the main event.
Over the next couple days, as we accepted that everything in Chile seemed to defy all logic, we began to settle into the lack of knowing and into the lack of understanding of why anything was the way that it was. When we finally arrived in Torres Del Paine in Patagonia, we were quickly forced to surrender control to the whims of Mother Nature, to the decisions of the trekking guides, and to the seemingly limitless bottles of Chilean wine that we imbibed each night. Within the first day of trekking, we had experienced rain, wind, snow, and sun all within the span of our eight-hour hike. As a result of the weather, it was never certain which activities we’d be able to do and what vistas we’d be able to see. Partly a result of the wine, our trekking group became fast friends and soon found ourselves over-sharing.
The rest of our days on the W trail were spent in a wandering state of bliss. Not a moment went by without laughter, without wonder, or without an appreciation for the people, the fresh air, and the landscapes around us. During the day, we hiked to the Mirador Las Torres and through the stunning French Valley, we kayaked across the Grey Lake, and we axed our way across the Grey Glacier. In the evenings, we huddled around a table, drinking, giggling, and getting increasingly comfortable with how long it had been since our last shower.
It goes without saying that Patagonia is an unbelievably stunning place. What I found during my time there, though, was not only the splendor of its terrain, but also the beauty of its unpredictability. Despite the sleepless nights, the ceaseless uncertainty, the endless Carménère, and the physical exhaustion, I woke up each day ready to eat my scrambled eggs, to grab my pre-made lunch, and to see what nature had in store.
With no internet or cellphone service, no concept of time, and no idea what I was going to do or see next, I found myself lost but completely at ease in the unknown.
This experience might sound to some like just another vacation, but to me, it was a chance to find bliss and comfort in not having control.