So I begin 2009 asking myself, "How could I have been so blind?"
And with a quiet resolution to be a better person.
So I begin 2009 asking myself, "How could I have been so blind?"
And with a quiet resolution to be a better person.
The best way to recount the stories from this year is to start from the beginning. From here, I'll trace where life has taken me in the past 9 months.
I welcomed 2007 without any resolutions, which made me uncomfortable. My resolutions for 2005 and 2006 helped to give me some direction, but this year, I had a hard time thinking of any. When I think about it, I didn't really have any specific goals in mind other than determining what happiness meant to me and pursuing it.
And with that vague feeling, I began 2007 armed with a freshly minted degree and my youthful optimism. Time to change the world! Time to make great things happen! Time to live the dream of the liberal arts major! But I didn't even know where to start. While I do dream of doing something entrepreneurial and working with youth, I figured I'd give a regular day job a try and gain some "practical experience" in the corporate world.
50 resumes out. 4 interviews. 0 offers. I expected the job hunt to be frustrating-- I knew this from hearing the experiences of others who had graduated before me, but it nonetheless got to me and I began to feel some bitterness at a world that wouldn't hire me. There were a couple of jobs I really wanted and I have to admit I was pretty disappointed when I didn't get them. And then there were others in which the interviews were just short of a dog-and-pony show. But at the end of the day, it makes for a good story, right?
Eventually, it got to a point where I just needed to do something. Money was running low and so was my sanity. The bright hopes I began 2007 with had dimmed a bit already. I thought that I wouldn't have reached this point for a few more years. Sadly, most nights I thought to myself, "is this what 'real life' is like?"
There have been so many times in the past 8 months that I have started writing an entry, only to save it as a draft, thinking to myself that I will refine it at a later time for publishing. But then the moment passes and when I come back to it, I'm in a different frame of mind and the words just don't seem quite right. And so I put it off for another day. Another week. Another month.
And while it has been refreshing to simply live my life without worrying too much about how I'm going to write about it on the blog, there is a part of me that has missed sharing my life with... well, you, whoever you may be.
The past 8 months have been filled with hope, disappointment, love, beauty and adventure. The stories behind them will come soon, I promise.
Last week, I received a letter in the mail with familiar handwriting on the envelope. It was my own. I vaguely remembered writing a letter to myself last year while sailing back to Argentina from Antarctica. Writing a letter to yourself is an activity that is often found in many programs ranging from summer camps to personal development seminars. It helps to put things in perspective and to reflect on where you have come from and where you have gone.
As I unfolded the sheet of paper inside, a $20 bill fell out. I have been writing letters to myself for about 10 years and each time, I enclose some money. You often forget about the letter and when you have $20 randomly arrive in your mailbox amidst all the bills, it's something to make you smile.
You are currently going across the Drake Passage and trying hard not to be sick. But this is all part of the epic adventure, right? The trials and tribulations that must be endured and suffered before the great reward may be found. I went to Antarctica and lost many material things. About the only thing I did find was myself. I found myself not so cynical and and reinspired about what is possible in this world. As I stood gazing over the Antarctic wilderness, I felt part of something. More connected to the Earth than I have been before. This was a reminder that anything is possible. That dreams count for something and that if you only hold onto them, they may one day be fulfilled.
The universe conspires with us to unite us with our innermost desires.
What's next? Biking across Canada. By the time I receive this letter, I want to have biked across Canada and fulfilled another dream. I've met some truly amazing people on this expedition. People both young and hold who are passionate about what they do and refuse to accept the status quo. Crazy people who believe they can change the world, because they will.
Remember the feelings you experienced. How, at times, you were moved to tears by the sheer beauty of everything. The beauty of Antarctica, of people, and of life itself.
What is the value of dreamers? Those whose heads are not in this world, but one that exists only in their minds. A vision of something better. They see possibilities. The world is one to shape and change, not simply a place to live, make money, and die. It's time to reassess my life dreams and never to give up on them.
Continue to teach. Get that PhD one day. Start something big. Something influential. Write a book. Live. Love. Laugh.
Live long. Love deeply. Laugh loudly.
My posts here are still sporadic because I really can't find the words that I'm looking for. I haven't been sleeping much lately. At first, it started off just staying up late into the night browsing the internet and absorbing news articles and blogs. But then I found myself pushing my physical limits more frequently and staying up because after a few hours of total silence, something happens.
Everything is still for a really long time, and then suddenly, my mind starts racing. I lay on my bed and just let it wander, touching upon everything from total absurdities to utter seriousness. It's as close as I can get to a waking dream, just thinking about all the possibilities in every aspect of my life. Oftentimes, there are reflections on business ideas or new inventions, but in the last few days, my thoughts have just been simple meditations on my life. I've been asking myself how I fit into this world. How do I look beyond making money and really create or contribute something of value to this world?
The words don't seem to come as easily as they did in the past. I hold back a lot more and every time I write, it's a struggle to let loose and let my words fly with reckless abandon. To date, I still have not reflected very much on the experience of biking across Canada and my attempt to take on Nanowrimo this month has been abysmal and unless I sequester myself and punch out 8,000 words a day for 6 days, it doesn't look like I'll be making the 50,000 word mark. I'll just do 100,000 words next year.
I wish I could say that my lack of posting lately is the result of being busy with schoolwork, but to be honest, I have simply found myself occupied with life. I spend most of my days reading, cleaning, and cooking; in the evenings, I browse the internet and watch my newfound Season Six DVDs of CSI. At times, I feel a twinge of guilt for not being more productive or doing something to further develop myself as an individual, but that feeling usually goes away after I have a few slices of dried mango. Shut up and enjoy the evening. Mmm mango.
At the end of the night, after I kiss Jenny good night and exchange I love yous, I lay in the darkness and think. In December, I will be officially graduating and I am presented with the prospect of looking for full-time employment. But I know that I will not be content with that. That's the type of person I am. There are a few exceptions to that, but for the most part, my joie de vivre will be crushed in a regular full-time job. So what's the solution? Go entrepreneurial.
Each summer, I tell my students that never before has so much opportunity lay before them and that they should seek to live out their dreams. Now it's time to live out my own. There are some big things on the horizon that I can't blog about for the time being. But when they happen, I'll share it here.
I haven't seen the sun in a day and a half because it has been raining constantly and I have had the floor lamp in my room constantly on "high" in an attempt to reproduce some semblance of tropical weather. Last week, I had the opportunity to be a wedding photographer at my Uncle Peter's wedding in the Dominican Republic. At first, I was bit intimdated by the task set before me because you really only have a couple hours to take the pictures that are supposed to last a lifetime. However, I just jumped in, kept the shutter going and came out with some shots that the newlyweds were quite pleased with.
The wedding ceremony was breezy, fun, and casual. Nearly everyone was barefoot in the sand and we were surrounded by the ocean and palm trees. There was a small crowd of tourists gathered nearby taking pictures and videos of the wedding and topless women casually strolled by in the background. But the children didn't notice, they were busy digging holes in the sand.
Post about food will have to wait for another time. Recipe for comedy, stay up all night dreaming about your future and how amazing it will be and then when it's time to send in your resume for the job, have the internet crash on you. On the way to the basement trying to fix the internet, pass by a puddle of water in your kitchen. Look up at ceiling and realize that faucet you installed a couple days ago has slowly been leaking water. Look at the clock. You now have an hour and a half to fix the internet, fix the faucet, get a haircut, shower, pack, and meet the shuttle outside your house. Try not to freak out. Have your girlfriend call you a few moments after you realize how much water is in the bathroom. Tell her you really can't talk right now and oh my god, there is so much water, what am I going to do. And I still have to get a haircut. Hang up. Try to fix the faucet. Fix the faucet. Spill water everywhere. Call her back, apologize for being snippy and tell her you love her. Go to the kitchen wipe up all the water. Run out the door. Get your hair cut. You have no idea whether or not he missed a spot, you really don't care, just cut something, anything, oh my god look at the clock. Jump in the shower and decide that despite how much stuff you have to do and the fact that you still have to pack, write a blog entry. After you write the blog entry and submit it, sigh, close your laptop, toss it into your bag, hop unto the shuttle to the airport. Get there just in time. Check in. Get on. Ask the stewardess for glass of wine, because you're going to the Dominican Republic for a week for a wedding and you have been looking forward to this for a really, really long time.
When I moved into my first house in my second year of university, I remember that my limited cooking skills dictated that I ate mostly canned and microwavable food. My typical shopping cart would contain a loaf of bread, processed cheese slices, a box of chicken nuggets, pizza pockets, hot dogs, and hamburgers. There would also be a couple of bottles of pop for good measure. When I couldn't even be bothered to fry a hamburger, I would simply cook some rice and unceremoniously dump a can of sardines on top of it.
My roommate Marcos could often be found making coffee in a French press while I munched on my sloth-induced concoctions. In that house, it was the perfect convergence of class and ass.
4 years later, while I still do enjoy the foods of my 20-year-old self on occasion, I can't imagine reverting back to eating hamburgers every day for weeks on end. Today, my typical shopping cart usually contains an assortment of pasta, fruits, vegetables and items from all four food groups. Chips are a rarity and pop has been replaced with soda water and fruit juices. Never in my life did I anticipate the moment when I found myself standing at the fish counter at the New City Supermarket in Kitchener asking for fresh tilapia.
An aside: to all of you who dislike fish, try tilapia. It's crisp, clean, and doesn't taste like most other fish. I've heard halibut described in similar terms, but it is ridiculously expensive at $15-20 a pound, whereas tilapia is only about $3 a pound. If you're interested in trying it sometime and live around Waterloo, let me know and I'll invite you over for dinner so you can try some.
So, what has brought about these changes in my shopping cart? Well, this past summer I had to avoid filling myself with junk, because I could not reasonably expect my body to cycle 150+ km a day after eating an entire bag of chips for dinner the night before. I became much more conscious of my health and at one point, I was actually counting calories to ensure that I was getting the nutrients I needed. But besides that, many of the changes have also been motivated by my relationship with Jenny, but more on that in the next post.
What's in your shopping cart?