Friday, May 20, 2011

A Future of the Past

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

So I’m sitting here in my new 2-bedroom apartment, 754 miles away from my family and friends on the east coast.  Tomorrow was supposed to be my official moving day but when does life ever turn out like we expect it to?  I sit here the happiest girl in the world to finally be with the one who means the world to me, yet at the same time, missing all the wonderful people I had to leave behind to get here.  Life is so bittersweet.  I sit here reminded of the love that travels with me wherever I go as I sit surrounded by totes and boxes full of memories and board games and birthday cards from the past 21 years of my life.  I feel like I’m living the country song “Starts with Goodbye” by Carrie Underwood.

I graduated magna cum laude with a double bachelor’s degree just six days ago and here I am in “The Real World” a place of mystery, wonder, cocktail parties and canned spaghettios.  A place where every 15-year-old aspires to be, and every 20-year-old dreads being thrown into.  An expression comes to mind: that if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it’s probably because they’re putting fertilizer on it.  I have to agree.
So I hear the world is supposed to end tomorrow, May 21st, 2011.  I don’t know if I buy that but I will say this: if it does, I’ll be ready.  I have devoted the past 17 years of my life to my education; I have traveled on three continents and in 8 countries.  I have completed a marathon and tried sushi.  I have been both weak and strong, and vulnerable.  I have needed a shoulder to cry on and been a shoulder for others, too.  I have sung in talent shows, at football games and in the shower.  I have appreciated the scenic view of autumn in Vermont and the feel of a baby’s hand wrapped around my finger.  I have loved someone so completely, with every fiber of my being, only to have my heart fragmented into millions of microscopic pieces. I have gathered those pieces and loved again.

In life we are only given one shot.  We make bucket lists and set goals and at the end of the day, we find always that 24 hours are not enough.  There is always something we could have done differently: more, faster, better.  My life is far from over, and my list far from complete.  With a diploma in hand and a move halfway across the country, my dreams and aspirations have only just begun.  So though I’m sad to have said goodbye to many great people to pursue my future, I do so knowingly that I would not be the same person I am today without all of you.  You have each changed my life in such profound ways, eluding words and beyond the value of a primitive “thanks”.  There simply are no words, but know that I am eternally grateful for all of your love and support.  As I begin a new chapter in my life, I do not forget nor take for granted all of the borrowed clothes, the late night talks, the Christmases and study halls that we shared.  You’ve made me strong and proud.  You’ve made me independent, resourceful, and most of all, ready.  Because of you, I am now ready to explore the world and try out my wings.  Just watch me soar!

I'll spread my wings
And I'll learn how to fly
Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk, take a chance
Make a change, and breakaway.
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance
Make a change, and breakaway.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Same River Twice

When I wake up early in the morning,
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream

Dreams are funny things.  Sometimes we sleep and dream remembering every detail, while other times we dream and wake barely having recollected that we even dreamt at all.  Sometimes we remember nothing.  And maybe it is better that way.

From a psychological standpoint, most people associate dreams with names like Sigmund Freud and Swiss colleague and psychiatrist Carl Jung.  Freud and Jung believed that dreams were a window into our unconscious, that unrestrained and uninhibited, dreams reflect our hidden desires-- those we hide from the world, and those we hide from ourselves.  While having similar beliefs, Freud and Jung did not agree on everything.  Unlike Freud who believed everything should be broken down into simplistic elements to be interpreted, Jung supported a notion of synthesis—that all elements of our dreams fuse together to create the larger picture.  That is to say, our thoughts are not entities to be explored separately and dissected into elemental features, but rather it is by a collection of these thoughts bound together where we find a more accurate interpretation.

When I was a kid, I had a dream catcher.  It hung for years dignified on the wood paneling of my bedroom walls by a cheap thumb tack.  When I think back to it, I can still remember making it, sitting at the kitchen table with my grandmother, and I, hopelessly consumed, swimming in my surroundings of string and beads, feathers and fantasy, elated in my own prepubescent reflections.  Being a child of only seven or eight years, I was caught up in the mystery and mythology that most kids, influenced, among other things, by one too many Disney movies often are.  Putting my dream catcher together, carefully weaving the string back and forth across the circular frame, I remember grinning ear to ear as I placed the very last feature onto my dream catcher—an arrowhead that dangled straight down from the center.  Tying it to my masterpiece, I felt like Pocahontas.  I was fearless and bright and brave.  Against all odds I defended my tribe and my morals.  I was a Native American princess.

You know, some Native Americans believe there are two main cases for disease.  One cause being external—toxins, pollutants, etc.—which may be cured by herbs and medicines... and another cause being internal, existing in the mind of the person him(or her)self.  They believe that everyone has certain inborn desires, often unknown even to themselves, upon which happiness depends.  To cure this, they summon soothsayers to delve into what a person most desires, in hopes to resolve these hidden aspirations.  They also believe that such unfulfilled desires may be presented to us in the form of dreams, elucidating that which is concealed in our awakened consciousness.  In this case, it is up to the person to fulfill these revealed desires and by this fulfillment-- and only by this-- can the sickness be cured.

Now, I don’t know about all of that, but I have woken up from dreams before thinking, “Wow!  Why hadn’t I thought of that before?”  Dreams, as I have found, can be extremely helpful in guiding us on or away from paths we, for various reasons, should or should not pursue.  Of course, I have also woken up in a state of complete and utter bewilderment, left with many more questions than answers, thinking “well THAT was strange!”  You know, sometimes I think if people had the ability to really see my thoughts- both while I’m awake, but also and especially as I dream—I’d probably be in a nuthouse by now getting fitted for my straight-jacket.

But how wonderful it is in this world of seven billion people with whom we are constantly surrounded, that among the hustle and bustle of city lights and whirlwind traffic at lightning speed with blazing, burning, chaotic energy, we are able to for a moment—if only for a moment—escape into our own personal worlds of fairytale and candor.  And even if it makes us crazy in a world gone so incredibly mad with order and structure and haste and hustle, spellbound in wild frenzy of fast-paced schedules and routine— how splendid the blessing to be able to break free from this and retreat into our own ideas and enter a world of mystical utopia, of Disney princesses and talking willows.

It is six a.m. and I am very sleepy.  My eyelids heavy and exhausted.  My dream catcher in a tote in the attic; once collecting dreams, now collecting dust and dirt and the stale smell of moth balls.  I inhale and exhale slowly and drift off into a celestial abyss of rushing water and wooden canoes to find what I dream the day might send— what's waiting for me: just around the river bend…

Please don't wake me, no
don't shake me
Leave me where I am
I'm only sleeping

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Chapter

The world's a roller-coaster
And I am not strapped in
Maybe I should hold with care
But my hands are busy in the air

It's been so long since I've blogged, I hope I still  remember how to write one!  Here goes nothing...

Tonight I was reminded while talking to an old friend about how I used to write these things all the time and that I don't anymore.  I kind of miss it.  It's a whole new year which means a whole new beginning so I thought it'd be appropriate to start a new blog, rather than hopelessly trying to muster up the username to old accounts, which, let's be honest, is a lost cause anyway.  I can't remember what I ate for lunch, let alone passwords my lugubrious, despondent, emotionally unstable15-year old self concocted...

Tonight I find myself feeling indifferent to the past.  While unchangeable, it has also shaped me into the person I am today.  Filled with pain, sorrow, joy, laughter, hurt, happiness, love and loss, I don't regret a single thing.  My past has made me who I am.  Friendships have been lost, fights have been fought, my heart has been broken, and the pieces put back together.  A lot has changed, and so have I.

It's hard to believe that one year ago today I left on a plane to study abroad in a foreign country.  I remember sitting on my bed, with snow falling outside, packing my suitcase and crying as I said goodbye to the safety nets and security of my friends and family here as I set off for Spain, a place that at the time, seemed completely foreign to me.  I think back to March as I was leaving my host family, sitting on my bed in Salamanca and my host mom knocking on the door to give me the biggest hug, telling me how much of a pleasure it was to have me and how she couldn't believe the time had passed so quickly.  It was then that I realized-- this place that at once had seemed so foreign and strange now seemed so strange to leave, because there too, I would once again, be leaving the comfort zones and safety nets of a place that became home and people who became family.  A chapter in my life ending, just in time for another to begin...

And such is life, I suppose.  A series of chapters each with their own beginnings and endings, each one comprising the bigger novel that is our life.  And each novel, so strangely and wonderfully weaved, intertwinning and overlapping.  The colors of my life bleeding onto the pages of yours.  Your words seeping onto my pages, too.  We color each others lives streaming shades of purple, cyan, and amber and gray.  We do not know how or why some people come and stay and others come and go but it is always like that.

Just like study abroad, in life we are challenged to say goodbye and part from familiarity and comfort zones, to end chapters and to begin new ones.  We do so scared and unknowing, afraid of the things that will come from it or the things that we'll find.  To say goodbye and abandon the security of the past in exchange for an uncertain future is not always easy but it is necessary.  Despite the hurt and fear and worry it may cause us, the risk is essential: to leave old things behind so that new and better ones may, splendidly and forever, transfigure the chapters of our lives.

Here's to new beginnings, the changes it will bring, and the courage to embrace the opportunity!
Happy 2011, everyone! :)


I lay my head onto the sand
The sky resembles a back-lit canopy with holes punched in it
I'm counting UFO's, I signal them with my lighter
And in this moment I am happy