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.

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Travel is Relative

We received travel vouchers for successfully completing our Peer Mentor internships with API, and we used them to purchase our flights. We booked them in October after continuously searching for flights to anywhere. We decided on Costa Rica because we had heard wonderful things from #hAPI study abroad students – we added Nicaragua in because, why not?

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So, we embarked on a two-week journey to Nicaragua and Costa Rica with an intensely researched, yet loose itinerary. You can only research so much about a place – especially in Central America – before learning that you just have to ask around to find what you need. We wanted a backpacker lifestyle. We wanted spontaneity. We wanted adventure.

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When we told family and friends about our plans, they were shocked at how long our trip would be. “Two weeks, woah! That’s pretty long.” We already knew it wouldn’t be long enough. These qualms were confirmed upon meeting other travelers and backpackers who had been traveling for three weeks, one month, three months, eight months, eighteen months. When asked how long we were traveling for, we shamefully responded with “only two weeks…” For a traveler, this is a tease. Two weeks is barely enough time to get to know one place, much less a few cities spanning two countries. We knew it, but we jumped at the opportunity anyway. Travel is worth it no matter how long.

Back home, two weeks away seems long; but while traveling, it seems short. When I studied in Spain for a year, I felt it wasn’t enough time, but people’s wide-eyed reactions proved different – “A year! That’s so long!”

Time is relative, and it’s all about perspective. Well, everything is relative, and everything is all about perspective. Travel confirms this over and over again. It wakes you up, shakes your senses alive. It puts you in your place, brings gratitude to the forefront. It challenges you, pushes you past your perceived boundaries. Outward movement aligns with inward reflection. Time passes in a much different way when you are conscious of your surroundings and of how you react to them. It is a continuous learning period. Time traveling is time growing.

Stories are some of the most inspiring moments while on the road. It’s not like it was in college, where everyone had more or less the same trajectory up until the previous night, when they may have gone out to a different bar. It’s not like it was while abroad, where other students had more or less the same reason to be living in a foreign country. It’s completely different and unassuming. You start from square one with questions, and open your ears to the most intriguing stories. You can assume nothing and expect everything.

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This is why I am in love with movement. This is why I want a life of travel and adventure. Because I could not live my life in just one place. There are too many buses to catch, too many sunsets to watch, too many cities to appreciate, too many local dishes to taste, too many stories to hear, too many languages to learn and too many people to meet. I want to move forward in life appreciating the time I have to travel, to move and to change, because time is truly all we have.

With wonder and wander,
KB + codea

Not Your Average Post-Grad

One hundred and sixty days ago, I reached a milestone of my life that only about 7% of people achieve: college graduation. Since May, every new acquaintance I make and every old friend I see has asked, “Where do you work?” or “What are you doing now?”

Here’s my problem with that. Why do people think that every college graduate’s success is measured by whether or not they have a full-time job lined up as soon as they toss that graduation cap in the air?

To start, shouldn’t we take some time to celebrate the giant success that is earning a college degree? Shouldn’t we be asking grads what they want to do with their life, not with their degree? Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that finishing college is a major accomplishment to be immensely proud of. However, I also think that there is way more to my early twenties than competing for a job that secures my spot in a cubicle, likely next to a middle-aged someone who has been there since his or her own college graduation.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I will have a full-time job one day, and I will probably be starting in a cubicle. But it’s not going to be a job that I applied for just because society told me that it was supposed to be the next step in my life. It’s going to be a job that I want for myself; a job that makes me happy, that I earned, and that I love.

So, what do I say when people ask me where I work or what I’m doing now? Well. Where do I begin? Since college graduation, I discovered a new love for nature while hiking in the Alaskan mountains. I celebrated my birthday delivering letters to Senators’ offices on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., went on a road trip to upstate New York with my mom, prepared homemade lobster rolls in Maine, and attended my first Filipino opera. I also began training for a half marathon, assisted an event planner with a medical gala at Gotham Hall in New York City, and started teaching myself Korean.

“I’m just livin’,” I say. I’m doing things I love. I’m learning from others, and I’m teaching myself. I’m traveling. I’m reading books that I could never find the time to while in school. I’m finding ways to make and save money outside of the 9-5 confine. I’m spending time with people I care about. And I’m taking a step back from the pressure that seems to be pushing too many young professionals in directions that they aren’t even sure is right for them. Most importantly, I hope that I’m serving as a reminder that success doesn’t always have to come in the form of a resumè.

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.

How to waste your time

DOnt worry be happy - Do You have a problem in life - Yes - Can you do something about it - NO - yes - Then Why worryThink too much about your problems, and not enough about the solutions.

Never say how you feel.  Hold it in until you explode and feel better, then start building it up again.

Be too proud or ignorant to apologize or come to compromise in a situation you want fixed.

Always have a frown on your face.  Waste it even more by not allowing yourself be happy.

Be and think negatively.  Waste your time by not feeling good.

Do something you hate.  Just wake up every day and do things you don’t enjoy.

Worry about all of the things in the world that are out of your control.

Blame yourself for something that had nothing to do with you.

If you are guilty of any, or worse, ALL, of the above, I’m gonna guess that you don’t want to be happy.

That’s a shame.  And I don’t know about you , but all I ever want to do is be happy.  And I think that time spent being anything else but what you want to be is wasted time.  Looking around lately I’ve found that a lot of people are wasting time, including myself sometimes.

Last weekend the BF and I got in a fight that wasn’t really a fight–one of those I-thought-you-were-mad-at-me/No-I-thought-you-were-mad-at-me fights. Stupid, we know. And we’re working on it by realizing together that negative time and energy is a big, big mistake.  Why go a few hours being upset or mad when you could release all of that bad energy by way of words or some type of expression–therefore ridding yourself of it–for just a few relieving minutes?

Well the answer is: you shouldn’t.  Why?  Because it will, without a doubt, be a complete waste of your time. I promise.  Take it from us.  We had a perfectly beautiful Saturday spent walking around Philadelphia, wading in public fountains, tossing the football around, and drinking mojitos.

 

Then whatever happened happened and it led to 3 or 4 hours of confusion, silence, and a spritz of awkward atmosphere.  AKA waste of time.  We could’ve fixed it in 10 minutes but instead we went hours thinking something was wrong.  And guess what?  Nothing was wrong!  So haha, the joke’s on us.  And what I learned from all of this is that I would love to never waste a precious minute like that ever again.  As far as I’m concerned, Philly is the city of not just brotherly love, but of all love.  And we can keep it that way.

This past Wednesday, I had dinner with my sister-in-law.  I talked a lot about the yoga/meditation and green things I do in attempt to make a social and environmental difference, and she couldn’t get enough of it.  When I talked about a stress management class I took last year and all the habits I gained from it, it’s like she discovered a whole new world of beautiful possibilities that never crossed her mind before.  “You inspired me,” she told me.  And nothing feels better than hearing those words.

After our dinner, I just kept thinking about unhappy people.  My sister-in-law isn’t unhappy, but a lot of people are.  They’re stressed and sad and hate the way their lives turned out.  To me, that’s totally unacceptable.  Unacceptable AND a waste of time.  If that’s not telling you that it’s time to make a change, then you are doing something very wrong.

Wanna know the best thing about all of the worrying, the stressing, the anger, the sadness, and the madness?  No one is forcing you to be a part of it.  You are doing it to yourself.  And life is so that you can control it.  If you hate what you’re doing…get ready for some good advice here…STOP DOING IT.  That’s probably what will get you one step closer to spending your time wisely.

Nike, baby.  Just do it. ✓

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

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This year I learned a lot about people and friendship, travel, time, and myself. The lessons I learned were simple, and it feels like we should just know them as a common sense but it seems like even when we think we know, we don’t.

The people in my life have always been at the center of my world, and for good reason; I’ve always considered myself the luckiest person for being extremely blessed to know so many amazing people. I value my relationships with people and I’ve always thought myself to be considerate and empathetic and reasonable. I like to think that the people I choose to associate with are the same way, but this year I’ve seen darker sides of friendship that I wish didn’t exist.

The lesson here is that people can be fake and pretentious. They can let you down, and they can ruin relationships. I watched friendships fall apart and people grow apart this year, and it just reminded me that as we grow older, we tend to be more selfish and less selfless. It’s a dog eat dog world, and it’s not until we make these mistakes for ourselves that we learn the lesson.

So one of my resolutions this year is to be a better friend. The world needs more of those.

With all the traveling I was lucky enough to do this year, I learned plenty about the hardship and reward that comes with it. The importance of experiencing travel, seeing the world, spending time away from home, and–as cheesy as it sounds–“finding oneself” will always be aspects of life that I want to acknowledge. For me, travel is the purest and hardest (but best) way to experience life. You learn to expect the unexpected, deal with problems and people, and see the real beauty in what you’re looking at.

My travel resolution of the year and for the rest of my life is to never stop.

2012 also helped me realize just how sneaky time is. It’s quiet, quick, and so extremely priceless. The other day someone asked me how old I was and it took me about six seconds to answer. It feels like the last two years have gone by so fast that I still feel like I’m 19. And I suppose that’s a good thing!

Lastly and most importantly, the last year has taught me plenty about myself. I hate comparing, but I guess it’s the best way to see ourselves as part of this world. So I like to compare myself in terms of what kind of person I am. And my resolution is just to be a better one.

The aftermath is the afterlaugh

One of my life philosophies is that if you can laugh about it afterwards, it was never that bad.

I spent this weekend in Roanoke, Virginia, and I was supposed to catch a train this morning at 10 am (9:59 am to be exact). The train station was at Lynchburg, about an hour away from Roanoke, and we got there around 10:05, and as you can imagine it was extremely frustrating to have missed the train by just six minutes. I was frustrated and angry, afraid, and all in all I just didn’t want to deal with the consequences.

In the end, I had to buy a new train ticket for tomorrow morning. The drive back to Roanoke was not fun, and it felt like forever. But soon after 10:05, I realized–as I do in many cases like this–that there really is no point to holding a grudge or continuing to feel frustrated over what can no longer be changed. The train left. I missed it. The end.

When there is simply nothing left to be done but move on, just move on. Don’t carry the baggage or burden with you. It only hurts more that way.

Little did I know, missing the train was probably a blessing in disguise. I got an extra day in Virginia–breakfast at Ihop, a trip to the puppy store, saw the movie The Hobbit, and had a lovely powwow/potluck dinner. Just a few hours later, I was back to having a great day.

So next time something bad happens, or if you have an embarrassing moment, or if you think that you’re having a bad day, just let it go immediately. The sooner you realize that life is still great, and that good things can still happen, and that it’s not the end of the world, the sooner you will be happier.