It was a typical Monday morning when I got up and headed into the coworking space in Bogotá. I had planned to get there before 9 am per usual, to start off my day and start off my week with some of my fellow nomads in our weekly accountability group. It is a routine that I have grown used to this year. It has taught me how much I thrive on routine and that finding it in a lifestyle of constant change is actually possible. As I walked down the streets that had become familiar to me over the past three weeks in that month’s city, I observed how it seemed quieter than usual. Not as empty as it was the previous week on a holiday, but quieter than was typical for a weekday.
I realized that it was Holy Week and, for a predominately Catholic country, perhaps that explained why the streets and the workspace were much emptier than usual. As I took the elevator up to my usual spot to set up for a day of productivity, my mind began to wander, realizing our last week in Bogotá would be a quiet one. It hit me that it was my last week in that workspace. It was the last Monday I would start off my week here.
As I thought about these last moments, reality slapped me across the face that that week, we as Veritas would transition to our final destination. It had been something I have thought about a lot lately as we head quickly towards the end of our year as a nomadic community, yet somehow that morning it hit me differently. I saw it flash before my very eyes in a way that you realize a moment as being the last of its kind. I suddenly was washed with emotions and I failed to hold back the few small tears that rolled down my cheeks. Overwhelmed with the emotion of it all, I texted my family group chat as well as a friend of mine in a temporary moment of panic that was caused by the flash of realizing I was doing something for the last time. It all made me think of an article I had read just a few days prior, announcing the retirement of a former professor of mine from my undergraduate studies at Elon University. In this article, Gibson explains what he calls “star flashes,” describing them as “fleeting sparks…when he realizes he’s doing something for the last time” (Kopetskie, 2018). On that quiet Monday morning in Bogotá, it occurred to me that I knew exactly what he was talking about, except I suppose he likely made it through those flashes without the tears like the ones I had been unable to control.
It is an interesting concept if you think about it. There are so many things that you do in your life that are ultimately going to be the last time you do something, yet you are unaware at that time that it will be the last. Or perhaps it is a moment that you think might be the last time you do something but you never really know for sure. But there is something different about a quick spark of realizing with certainty that it is the last time you will do this exact thing.
Perhaps my emotions were irrational. I mean in reality, it was not the last moment I would walk into that workspace. I would do so for at least four more days that week. It was not my last day in Bogotá and it was not even my last day of Remote Year. But it was the last morning that I would walk in on a Monday, here in this place and being my eleventh month, it meant I only have one month left of both firsts and lasts for this particular experience.
As I sat there, attempting to catch that star flash and capture it in a jar as if it were a firefly on a summer’s eve, I tried to remind myself that even though you might be doing something for the last time, it also means that there are so many new opportunities and experiences on the horizon. Just as all my lasts from this time a year ago lead to many amazing firsts with an incredible group of people as we traveled together on this adventure.
I look back on this year with amazement and wonder. I have learned so much about the world but mostly, I have learned so much about myself. I have grown to view things in a different way. I have observed what I am capable of when I push myself out of my comfort zone and the feeling of gratification when I do. I have seen in so many ways why I should not let my fears hold me back. I have met many amazing people and have collected wonderful memories that I will cherish forever as I again step forward to the start of the next chapter of my life. But before I close the chapter on this one, I am going to take note of all those “star flashes.” I am going to hold onto those moments and relish the beauty of knowing it is the last time you are doing something. I am going to collect them all like magical fireflies and I am going to acknowledge my tears as tears of joy for having done a thing that terrified me. And I must also give a big thank you to Professor Gibson, for giving me a term and a definition for those moments, when I too see “star flashes” and recognize how precious they truly are to be seen.