Name: Madison Asher

Hometown & current location: Long Beach, New York

Relationship to VISIONS: 2006 Peru participant

Where are you now?

I feel at home in two cities: New York and Washington, D.C. In this very moment, my life is in a constant state of discovery. I left my 5-year streak of comfort and routine in DC back in February and launched into Central America to explore. I “vacation” styled in Costa Rica, then worked at a beach hostel in Panama and backpacked through Colombia. When I returned to the US after four months, I landed back in my hometown in New York, where I currently find myself with a blank canvas before me, eager to paint with new colors.

What is it like to walk in your shoes every day?
It’s inspiring! I leave space in my day to stumble across impromptu inspiration from unexpected corners. Of course one day differs from any other, but I’d be bold enough to say that walking in my shoes brings a sense of adventure even to the routine of daily life.

What does the word community mean to you?
Community is a very pertinent word in my life these days. As I’m exploring my next life step, I circle around this word often, highlighting it as a guiding light towards whatever may come next. Community is comprised of equal sentiments of belonging and familiarity. There are seemingly infinite communities one person can be a part of: sports teams, families, work departments, music fans, etc. I think there’s a beauty to the fact that community brings us comfort but because of its infinite nature, allows us the possibility to explore the unfamiliar in the hopes of it becoming familiar with time.

What was most memorable about your VISIONS experience?
I remember this being the first time I felt what it was like to be a part of a whole new group of strangers turned family. The close-quartered, bare-bones lifestyle mixed with daily shared projects brought me close to each person as individuals and the group as a collective unit. We each played a role—almost like positions on a baseball team—that made the shared experience welcoming and meaningful to everyone. I find that I still seek that community sentiment with all the involvements I pursue now.

What did the VISIONS experience teach you about life outside yourself?
VISIONS taught me the possibility of great pleasure from the subtle things. I witnessed and experienced the delight possible from the simplest engagement.

What do you feel is one of your greatest strengths that you have to offer the world?
My positivity—not rooted in naive optimism, but in an awareness of the power of our own minds. I’ve been given this feedback from friends of all walks of life. One group used to play the “find something Madison can’t turn positive” game. They almost always lost. One friend even ventured to say that he could rely on me in his most tragic life moment to find some string of positivity in what happened. That could be the highest compliment I’ve received thus far.

What would you like to be remembered for?
The ability to turn the mundane into the magical, the capacity to shine positive light on seemingly dark corners, and the dance moves to get people inspired to get their boogie on harder 🙂

What would you like to say to other members of the VISIONS community?
Hi! I’d love to invite you into my life. Whether it’s the first time we’d be meeting or we crossed paths during our time together with VISIONS, I like to think I have seemingly infinite space for new humans in my life and choose to never close the door to any. Let’s chat life one day.

VISIONS in The New York Times