Moved by Moving

Leaving home gets harder and harder every time I do it. And I’m always asked, “Why do you like living abroad?” and “How do you do it?”

After years of thinking about it, I finally found some potential answers, thoughts repeated in my mind if nothing else.

I have developed a deep, deep passion for the world. I’ve had it for years, and I’m guessing I always will. It keeps me going and partly blinds me from the pain that I inevitably feel when I leave. This world just has so much to offer. There are so many people and lessons and activities and views to meet and learn and do and see. The fact that all of this is available and waiting is pretty insane to me and I can’t miss out. Long ago I told myself I would see as much of the world as I could and this goal is never-ending and doesn’t get easier the older I grow, but until that promise no longer serves me, I must go and go and go.

I look around and think to myself that the reason life is so wonderful is because we get to choose. Sure, there are some givens, but at the end of the day I hope we can all recognize that we have the power to change what surrounds, consumes, inspires, angers, and pushes us, simply by making different choices. Sometimes I look at the places I spend most of my time, at the things I own and use, and at the people I share my days with. When I see each of these truly, I am able to trace back to the moment I let them in, and more importantly, the moment I let them stay. Through this consistent practice I’ve come to the understanding that I am allowing what and who surrounds me. When I leave home, I recognize fully that it is my choice, and that there is no one else to thank or blame for what I see when I open my eyes.

I love home. I love coming home and I love being home. I love the place I get to call home, and the people from home that I get to keep in my life regardless of whether I’m physically there or not. I treasure this place so deeply because I only get to have it sometimes. At this point, many places feel like home, and I can’t afford to take that for granted either. But home has always been people for me. It just so happens that a large percentage of the people I love are in the same place, and for that fact alone, I love home.

I crave stories. How else would we learn and grow from each other if we didn’t share them with each other? Most anything we say or exchange in conversation, on social media, through music and film, while people-watching, and when we lie awake at night thinking about our day, is a story. They are being shared in different ways, selectively, and again we can choose and craft them how we want to. Anything that happens to us is one story, and the way we choose to see it once it’s done or tell it when it’s over, are other stories. Every place I go gives me another story to tell, and many to listen to. At any time I can draw from this archive, and I can learn.

I like being uncomfortable. I like placing and finding myself outside of the zone I would describe as “comfortable”. I like the rush of new environments and unfamiliar ground. I like how it feels to know that time is all it takes to adjust to most change and most difficulties. And I know from experience, that when we are uncomfortable, we are growing. It’s easy to stay, but I prefer a little bit of pushing my boundaries if it means expanding my growth as a human through the days I have been given. I don’t like leaving because it’s uncomfortable, I like leaving because of where it gets me. So, here I am again, getting through the uncomfortable changes to find what is waiting for me. And something always is.

Every time I leave home, I cry at the airport while waiting at the gate for boarding. It’s never because I want to stay, but because leaving doesn’t feel as good as arriving. The last few months I spent at home have been everything I’ve dreamt of and more. I am so grateful for all the time I got to share with so many people, all of whom I consider myself lucky to know and connect with. I’m thankful for all the food that I got to eat, and that I am always missing when away. I know that home isn’t everyone’s favorite place, so I know my luck for all that it is, to have been brought to a place that fills me with good love and good memories, each and every time.

 

 

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Slaughterhouse Five Quotes

When I read books, I always write my favorite quotes as I read. These are from the most recent book I read, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m so grateful that so many of those moments are nice.

That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.

There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

“Why me?”

“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Well, here we are, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Where have all the years gone?

All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. See how permanent all the moments are, and look at any moment that interests you. It is just an illusion that we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

So it goes.

But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go.

And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.

Multiple Passion Personality Order

I read this FANTASTIC article last week.  It’s about how we, as humans, often find ourselves “stuck” in phases of life.  These phases include but are not limited to: boredom, creative overload, workaholism, just plain slow, overwhelming, etc. etc.  You know what I mean once you read “Navigating Stuckness.”

While reading the article, I found myself fascinated by Harris’ life, particularly how each chapter was so strongly defined by what consumed his time in that specific stage of his life.  From art to coding to storytelling to writing…there is so much talent in this one person to admire.  And I think we should all be that way.

In Chapter 3 of his life, Harris resolved to be a multi-talented and experienced person:

Instead of trying to be the smartest person in the room, now I wanted to be the most interesting. 

“Navigating Stuckness” in its entirety, is an inspiring story encouraging us to find what it is we want to do, and simply do it with no requirements of justification, salary, or even valid reason.  Sometimes it feels like a paradox, but most times I think it’s just life.  And life is a countdown.

In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way.

A couple of weeks ago, I was pondering the moves I would be making in my life within the next few years.  I wanted a life plan to somewhat base the years on.  This is the result:

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After the inevitability of “22: graduate”, I found that there is no realistic way to build a life plan.  The only idea that kept coming to mind was that of passion.  How do you want to occupy your time?  That is the real question.  And the only question we should never forget to ask ourselves.  Mostly because the answer is solid and true.  We know what we want, and what we don’t want.  And when we know what these things are…we must go after them.

Jonathan Harris makes the same argument, and he tells us how we might stay a step ahead of the traps that lead us to “stuckness”.  Reading his story in chapters, and being able to separate those chapters makes it blatantly obvious (to me at least) that we should practice our passions without limits.

I want to be interesting AND smart.  And I want to be good at writing and telling stores, while also being good at snowboarding.  I want to be able to knit and code and play the piano and practice travel photography.  I hope to be good at drawing and cooking and a whole slew of possible talents.  It’s a collective work in progress; I don’t need to spend 9-5pm every day doing the same one thing.  I can spend it doing several things.  And the best part of all is that I think this would make us happier.

If you’re always doing what you love, you will always be happy.  And if you’re always happy, then you will never be stuck.

Once Upon A Time…

I’m in this New Year and soon-to-be-college-graduate mindset, and I have come to the following conclusion about life:

You know people by the stories they tell.

…if they have any at all.

I want to always be the person in the conversation who has a story to tell.  Whether it’s about love, life, or even death, I hope I can provide a little anecdote with a happy ending.

People who share stories are the ones who have lived.  They are the ones who we turn to when we need to form an idea of what’s to come.  After all, your future is someone else’s past.  Or so I’ve heard.

When I’m 100 (and I will be someday), I want to tell stories about the time I learned how to surf in Portugal, or the time I camped out under the stars in the Sahara Desert in Morocco after a four hour camel ride.  I want to share with people the memories from my high school and college years, and I want to say beautiful things about all of the incredible souls I have been so lucky to encounter in my lifetime.  Most of all, I just want to leave something behind for others to remember, so that they, too, can have a story to tell.

Sandy Relief Volunteering

This past Saturday I spent the day volunteering in Freeport on Long Island.  A few friends and Hofstra students and I helped a family move all of their belongings out because the entire first floor of their house had water damage from the hurricane Sandy a few weeks ago.  As heartbreaking as this was to witness and be part of, I learned so much about gratitude and how important it is to never let yourself become consumed by what you own.

Here are a few photos of the damage and all of the belongings that needed to be moved out of the house:

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The family we were helping was so sweet and throughout the whole day I spent with them, it never felt like they were letting the negativity of this tragedy get to them.  They kept thanking us for our help and calling our their angels.  They ordered us pizza and shared their stories and passions with us.  They offered us everything they had left and were more than willing to give it away.  All they kept saying was, “If you break something, it’s okay, we’re not the type of people to be upset over things.

More important than things, was love.  For each other, and for their pets!

Martin and Debbie have been married for over twenty years and Debbie couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved her husband.  He has had five brain surgeries, two strokes, and one heart attack, and it is absolutely unbelievable how much hope and happiness they have after all of those horrible health problems.  They are as happy as ever.

The best lesson I learned that day was from Debbie.  She said, “You meet so many good people in your life that you never even realize their impact.”

That was one of the best and truest things I’ve ever heard anyone say.  Sometimes we encounter people just for a moment, but our lives touch forever.  When you share a moment with someone, that moment can have an impact on your for the rest of your life.  Whether they give you something that is material, or whether they teach you a lesson, it becomes a part of you.  And that is part of the reason I think this world is so wonderful.

We pass strangers every day, and at every moment we have the opportunity to make a difference, just for a moment, or forever.  Most of the time, we don’t even know of the difference we made.  A simple act of kindness could have had that impact of forever on someone, and chances are we’ll never know what we did, but it’s important that we do it.

At the end of the day, we got rid of most of the things in the lower level of the house.  Furniture, food, appliances, memories.  All left on the sidewalk to join the piles of “garbage” that was never really meant to be garbage.

El alma

Sometimes I look back on the twenty-one years behind me and wonder about life within life.  Some days I feel like I’ve been alive for so long.  I feel old and  I can’t think of what I’ve made of myself in two whole decades of being alive.  Nothing.

Other days, I see the days under my belt as so remarkable they deserve to be stories retold until everyone knows.  There are feelings and moments that will never leave me, lessons I want to share, legends that come with no price to do them justice.

In the end, I find that no matter how I view the time I’ve spent in retrospect, they have all happened to get me here right now.  How old is your soul?

Day 9: Pisa / Florence / Rome

Day 9 was a day full of trains, terminals, and traveling.

We started in Florence and decided to take another day trip, this time to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower.  Another bucket list item of mine is to see all of the seven wonders of the world–this would be my first.  There are a few different lists; I wouldn’t mind crossing them all off!

So we took a train in the morning to Pisa, and we were in and out of that little town in no time.  We walked from the train station to the Tower–had some breakfast, shopped a little, and checked out a farmer’s market on the way–and spent just under two hours at the actual site.  Here are some of the photos I have to show for those two hours:

(This very tourist-y picture of me probably took up a majority of the time we spent in Pisa…)

I think I remember the price of climbing to the top of the tower to be about 15 Euros and I really disagreed with that so I had to pass.  Isn’t that a little lot pricey?!  I could go for a 20 minute gondola ride in Venice and have a Euro to spare with that!

Anyways.  Onto more important things that don’t make me so frustrated…

We arrived back in Florence early afternoon and got to go to the Santa Maria Novella.  Of all churches, I think I was least impressed with this one.  The design was beautiful but the inside was average.  Although I may be the only one who felt that way.

I stopped by the Gelato Festival while my mom went inside the church at the Duomo.  I was wearing shorts so I wouldn’t have been allowed in–there is a strict dress code.  Knees and shoulders must be covered.  The Gelato Festival definitely kept me happy so I can’t really complain.  I spent a whopping €8 on my last gelato in Italy.  The largest cone they had stuffed with chocolate and nocciola with wafers on top.  Need I say more?

Our last meal in Florence was at a restaurant called Fool’s Pizza.  I particularly enjoyed their lasagna dish, and my mom had this delicious spaghetti carbonara plate.

We took a train back to Rome in the evening, and I spent the rest of the night packing and getting prepared for the following day–the beginning of the second half of my trip!

So I guess this blog marks the (almost) halfway point of my travels.  In just 9 days I took 2 planes, traveled to 7 cities, rode 2 boats, climbed well over 400 steps, and made more than a handful of memories.  And the best part is that I got to begin again with a new adventure the following day!

It was a pivotal moment in my 3-week journey, and I could honestly say that I looked back on the last nine days of my life and had nothing but good stories to tell and no regrets.