Sunday, May 23, 2010

a mutual addiction

I realize now that my actions have become slightly manic, like those of an addict. After this I will be withdrawn and unable to think of anything aside from my next fix. It's not healthy, and it's not lasting. It's for right now. If the future doesn't involve it, I don't want it to come. Right now my future is stretching in front of me like a gravel road to be walked barefoot. The pain won't be acute, but it will be constant. I wish I didn't think about it so much, but I can't help it. It's beyond obsession. I wish I could develop normal penchants and inclinations, but I can't. It's as if I am lacking a chemical that I had before but my body can no longer produce. I can't be accountable for things I do now. If I could, I would drink a sleeping draught. Powerful and immediate, like a shade being drawn over a window. This would slow the off kilter reeling of my mind. All it does is spin and spin and drive me crazy with the immensity of everything.
I put two mirrors directly across from each other to illuminate my room. Looking at them reminds me of you, reflecting wildly forever. They constantly spit light and noise back and forth and when you look at one you can see the other replicated for infinity behind the glass.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

write it on your heart

I'm done with school- completely done with exams and leaving for South America in two days. Last night I went to the city to see some of my friends before I left. It was a crazy night and I ran from an apartment on Dearborn to Navy Pier to Wrigleyville and saw friends from work, high school, and U of I. I stayed with two friends of mine from Nazareth, and in the morning we sat by the lake and talked for a while. When we were driving back on Lake Shore Drive, I kept telling my friend how happy I was. It was so beautiful out, and I kept looking at Lake Michigan and all the people walking along it. I have always loved Chicago, but for some reason its beauty seemed especially transcendent. I remembered the fog of Navy Pier and the twinkling lights of the buildings the night before, and the charmingly chaotic nightlife of the North Side. I couldn't articulate the feeling I had that made me feel like my heart was swelling with my gratitude for everything.

Imagine we're astronauts who have crashed on the moon. We're stranded. We look up into the sky and see the beautiful blue Earth, but can't get back to it because our ship is damaged. All we can do is look at that brilliant blue orb in the cold black sky and long to be home again.

But suppose we managed to fix our craft after all, and landed once again, on Earth. How would we feel as we first set foot upon the Earth? What would we observe and savor? How intensely would we experience the smells and flavors, the gentle rain, or the warm sand underfoot?

This, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is how we should walk on the earth with each step.

Steve Hagan

My friend and I started talking about immigration, and the difficulty in reconciling the idea that open borders aren't feasible with the fact that immigrants are undoubtedly looking for opportunities that they don't have in the country where they are coming from. To me, it is presents a moral dilemma to deny someone an opportunity that you were given by pure chance. There was nothing that I did to earn the life I was given. I am so lucky to have been born in the United States. I am so fortunate to be in one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world. I feel that an awareness and gratitude of the circumstances that I was born into is conducive to acting in a way that promotes the lessening of the disparities in the world.

I explained my interest in international development to my friend, and my belief that there will be no end to civil strife, corrupt governments, and denial of basic human rights in periphery nations until they are able to ascend out of poverty. I saw Muhammad Yunus speak at U of I, and one thing that he said has stuck with me for months:

The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world.. all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them.

While I was speaking to my friend, I confessed my feeling of inadequacy in being able to effect change. I feel like there is so much to be done, and I should be doing it. But who am I? A 20-year-old, idealist college student. I do not have the platform or the devices to influence change on the scale I would like to.

I realized then how negative I was being- I have as much potential as anyone else. You can't change the world just by wishing it to be so. By changing the way that I act, the things I do, the life that I live I will effect change. Going to Santa Cruz de la Sierra to teach English will have an impact, and even if in a small way, I will be living a life reflective of my ideals. I am happy for that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

i'm surprised no one's told you before

I'm in the middle of exams, and it's really easy to get sucked into the super competitive atmosphere. It's exhausting and demoralizing. I kind of reached a point today where I couldn't study anymore, and felt overwhelmingly drained.

I can study all I want, but I won't get the grade that I want to get. I'm not smart enough. It's too difficult.

I realized then how close to being done my year was. Two projects and an exam away. That made me think about all the things that happened this year, and what they've meant to me. How many things I've done in 9 months, and how much everything has changed. I started to feel a little bit better then. I remembered times that seemed very difficult, and how they had worked out. Because they did work out. I made it work then, and I will now.

I think it's just as important to appreciate what you've done as it is to think about how far you have to go. It is easy for me to say that, and to be honest it is something I rarely do. I often feel overwhelmed by the expectations that I have for myself, and what I see as my limitations. I constantly feel like I should be doing more. I should be studying harder, I should be more conscience of my carbon footprint, I should be keeping in better contact with old friends. It seems that the more you try to realize your potential, the higher your expectations for yourself become. That's not a bad thing, ambition and drive are important. But it's also important to recognize how far you've already come.

As useful as it is to make resolutions on what you need to improve, how will you be happy if you don't stop and appreciate where you've been? There will always be more that you can do, or things you can improve upon. This doesn't make what you've done insignificant. Think about all the things that you've learned, all the people you've met. Make a list of accomplishments of the year. Be happy with that, because the world is different because you've done those things. Just by living your life, you have had an impact on everyone around you. Remember that when you start to feel insignificant. You are the furthest thing from that.

The road goes on for a long time, but you've made it this far. You must be doing something right. In fact, you're probably doing a lot of things right. You're probably doing more things right than you're aware of. You probably impress people all the time with what you've accomplished, but because of your own ambition you don't see it yourself. It is good to strive for more, but give yourself credit for what you've done. Recognize the beauty and the potential in the world around you, and recognize those things in yourself. No one said progress had to be linear. Let yourself see what other people see in you all the time.

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived- this is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson




Saturday, May 8, 2010

turning your orbit around

Your pupil is like a black hole, and when I look at you it's as if I I can't see anything aside from it. Everything around me gets caught up in the inertia and the matter all goes hurtling toward you. The light getting pulled in makes streaks that look like fire scorching against the sky. I go tumbling down but don't hit anything, it's just that my sense of direction gets thrown to hell and I lose where I was going in the first place. You don't see it, but I can barely maintain the path I'm on, the force is too consuming. If I resist it little parts will fracture off into the tide. I know that I should want my autonomy back, but I don't. The universe is too infinite without you keeping me here, and I don't want to get lost in the expanse. If I go too far I will get colder and colder and freeze like Hoth. If I wasn't straining against the gravity I would be spun out in the opposite direction and I would never be back again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

one flew east, one flew west

"Madness." But what does that even mean? Just that you think in a different way than everyone else, you see things other people don't see. But that's not a bad thing. And who cares if from time to time you write about things that other people think are strange or morbid or crazy- what do you think people thought about Lolita or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Catcher in the Rye when they first came out? But unordinary things exist in life. And people who are poetically and artistically literate appreciate someone who can see the beauty or the importance in things that other people shy away from.
Alexandra Koys