Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined! Thoreau
If I had had my way, I’d probably be spending most of my time behind a desk in a government office in Washington, or maybe in a not for profit. I might be married to my high school boyfriend, although I stopped wanting that about 5 years ago. If I’d got what I wanted after graduating college though, I would not be here in West Philly I’m pretty sure lol.
Like the hobbit, I’m on a voyage I never came close to anticipating or waiting for. In French, the movie is titled Le Hobbit: Un Voyage Inattendu, which directly translated comes something close to “un-waited for.”
While I always loved French class, I never really planned on studying abroad. When I started thinking about it, I wanted to go to Morocco to strategically expose myself to Arabic and an emerging market. As it turns out, I’ve lived in France about a year in total (so far), with most of it spent in the country near the Atlantic Ocean, and three months in Paris. I’ve had tons of Moroccan friends who speak Arabic at home and dated a really cute guy who I later found out was an Algerian Berber.
I loved Anastasia, and enjoyed Russian history class. Somehow, I’ve found my way to St Petersburg and Moscow. Thank you, small well-funded liberal arts college!
I never even thought of going to Madagascar, but I did a project there and still stay in touch with some people I met on Facebook.
And whoever thought I’d actually make it to Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Poland, Madrid, Bruges, and Rome as a backpacker (ten countries visited this year). I remember my French teacher talking about how she’d loved hostels and train travel when she was young. I said my parents would never let me. Well, looks like I have anyway (and they have gone along with it and enjoyed the pictures!).
I didn’t ever have too much of a yen for Asia, except India. Never saw too much of a need to go there since I’ve had the blessing of classmates from all over the world, and Oaktree Road in Edison (Little India, where Indians all over the East Coast flock) isn’t too far from where I live. Yet somehow, God willing, I’ll be going to India, China, and Japan this summer. And hopefully squeezing in a trek in Southeast Asia.
Totally new worlds have opened up before me, and I am unspeakably blessed and humbled by the opportunities and to be born an American citizen. The more of the world I see, the prouder I become to be born into such a dynamic, young, inclusive, free country.
Some loves have been loved and lost along the way. My heart has been broken. Friends have come and gone. The search for gainful, meaningful employment leading to a good career is on. I’ve never had a college degree required full time salary indefinite contract job, but hopefully it’s on it’s way.
I struggle, I lie awake at night trying to get a glimpse of the future before me. Sometimes I feel really lonely. A lot of my inner struggles can seem kind of adolescent at times. I just want to be loved and understand.
Sometimes I’m so open, it feels like my heart will break, and no one will ever fill it. My deepest fear is to have an amazing career, but an unfulfilled personal life. I admire Hilary Clinton, but my mom is my role model. I see babies, I see pregnant ladies, and I am in fear and yet I do dream about having my own bundle of joy.
I’m still dreaming of the great love story, and how I’ll find my Ithaca, my domestic bliss someday. The Prince Charming that will show up, and be fit to carry me away. Not just a fantasy, probably my dearest wish to be honest.
As we speak, the greatest love of all is happening to me, slowly but surely, a la the empowering Whitney Houston song . I believe the children are our future, and I hope that something I do in this world will make it better. I hope that everything I do will help a little bit. Even, no especially, writing this blog that does seem to be my chicken soup for the soul.
I may not be able to plan my life, or even envision my next step. I believe I will find my place in the world, but there’s definitely no linear path to it I can see right now. Everyday doesn’t feel like a small step towards a place I want to be and believe I can achieve, it feels like a giant leap into the unknown
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As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. Thoreau
I try to think about location, job function, organization type, industry, long term goals, and balance everything- being close to my family, being able to start a long term relationship not to be challenged by impending departure, having friends at the corner bar, the thrill of the unknown, the comfort of the familiar, making a home, being an adventurer, making enough money, making more than enough money. My song is the same as everyone my age, even if the harmonies will be a bit different. Not to mention, the desire to blend in and be similar vs being true to myself and wanting to be a little different.
Even amidst all the gratitude I feel, and the fact that I do wake up knowing I’m on the right path, I do feel exhausted, scared, lonely, and depressed sometimes. I do worry, I am anxious, I am human. I have no idea what to do next, and that scares me. I have so many contradictions, so many things unresolved within me: “I am vast, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman
Yet somehow, I find my dreams coming true, if not in the way I expect. If pressed, I’d say my dearest goal is to be a (not starving, comfortably middle class) public intellectual. I want to influence people with my ideas and words, and I’ve wanted to write things people could take to heart like Shooting an Elephant by Orwell or A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. And maybe, my little old, sometimes hokey, sometimes mispelled, often rambly blog is that original contribution I dreamed of making.
Remember Dead Poets’ Society, and being a human, filled with passion.
The teacher reminds his students, “the powerful play goes on. an dyou may contribute a verse,” from Whitman.
“What will your verse be?” he asks.
I don’t know what my verse will be. I hope I can learn to be a bit more comfortable in the uncertainty.
“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
One must find the source within one’s own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking — a detour, an error.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
I hope that my dreams secret even from myself will continue to come true, that the wishes of my heart will be granted, and that life treat me with love as I learn to love it. That I will live and choose consciously, and yet be chosen by something greater.
Are destiny and free will at odds? Perhaps it’s only an illusion.
Some good quotes from Siddhartha, which I highly recommend:
“During deep meditation it is possible to dispel time, to see simultaneously all the past, present and future, and then everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman”
“You show the world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain, linked together by cause and effect.”
Perhaps the most important thing, as Hesse tells us through Siddhartha a bit later, is love. Maybe love is proof that i an egotistic and solipsistic world, there is an other. And perhaps despite the ultimat e oneness of all things, the starry facelessness of the universe, we have selves to love with.
So I don’t know the answer, to my life’s question or yours. I can’t say my dreams will come true- I can say nothing expected seems to happen.
Maybe if we just find the courage to love this life, and trust God, we don’t need to have the ending and the meaning revealed. Maybe even I can just live, purposefully through trust, not by executing the life of my own design. Perhpas it’s in vain to yearn for a castle to build in the air. I suspect I’m laying the foundations of something wonderful, like a builder working on a cathedral which may not be completed in his lifetime. And yet, in my lifetime, I’m living something beautiful.