Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Move Within

"Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings. Move within,
but don't move the way fear makes you move"

Guess I'm just in a mood for some inspiration. Last week I got a chance to spend time with good friends and family, celebrating siku ya shukurani, which was wonderful, a full reminder of how much richer life is when its shared with people you love and who love you. But Thanksgiving also elicits a need, a desire,at least in me- to reflect, and I start to think about the particular place I'm at.

I'm in a transitional state, still not rooted, and preparing myself for April, when Jacob and I will embark again-leaving for 5 months to walk those 2700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Sometimes it's hard to keep a positive attitude, and it's easy to fall into that negative feed-back loop of self-doubt and criticism. 

I say, 

I'm not in a stable career.

I don't have a final destination.

I have an uncertain future looming ahead, and I still haven't figured out what sort of career would fit me. 

Thus, I spend time trying things on, going on career "dates" as I call them, seeing if there is an environment where I could really sink into. And I haven't found it. It's like a bad dating scene. Where I'm searching, and dating all these careers I don't think in the end I want, but am trying them out to see for sure what I don't want. 

And I've come to the conclusion that I just don't want a commitment right now. 

Not from a career. 

No, I don't want to be in that sort of long-term relationship with a job. 

So I do what I did when I was dating in college, and I go out with this career for oh, maybe three months, and then I move on.

Guess I'm sort of fickle right now. 

But I think of what a dear friend of mine said when we were commiserating about this very place to be, and she relayed some sound advice that I resonated with, to keep in mind in these uncertain spots, that we should change our perspective and look at these times as growth spurts, with growth pains and all. Then I think back to when I was stretching up, growing 4 inches in 2 years and how much my knees hurt.

Guess my professional self is just a little tender right now. 

And then I remember how many blessings I have, and I'm simply grateful. For my health, for an incredible life partner, for family and friends, for  butternut squash and apples, for public libraries, and cashews, for delicious coffee, and for having the ability to follow this dream of walking from Mexico to Canada. And then all the growing pains don't seem to feel as acute, and they actually disappear. 

And then I walk, and I move within. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

I don't love the treadmill

photo taken from http://www.fitsugar.com/I-HEART-TREADMILL-52963

I recently reread my journal from when I was living in Tanzania. The following entry scares me a little. 

"Americans get caught up in that hustle and bustle of everyday life. They need, want and can only live, on the treadmill.  Many have a set weekly 9 to 5 routine, performing nominal tasks with ease. They settle into a life of efficiency, work, and progress. They are routinized, rationalized beings who are specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart. People start to become creatures of habit, who are more concerned with the state of the front yard rather than the matters of the spirit. A person finds at the end of the day, they can be happy because at least they “got something done”. 

Some search for a way out of this box, where they can satisfy the common desire to get away from it all. But they always come back. 

Well, I don't want to ever go back. 

I don’t REALLY think I want my life to be an ongoing rhapsody, but to keep in touch with the sublime, is that too much to ask?"

Damn it. I came back. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Around Us, from Jónsi’s album, "Go"

A little bit of inspiration from Iclandic folks: 

"We all want to grow with the seeds we will sow

We all want to go with the trees we will grow

We all want to know when we're all meant to 

go To a place you and I - Will call home"

I like Sigur Rós, mostly because they got away with making up their own language. 

Maybe one day my mind, and perhaps this  

blog, will abandon English altogether and 

adapt Hopelandic-communicating in only 

sighs and emotions. 

I can hope, right?

So, here's just their front-man taking off on his own. 

First heard music from this album on the slideshow that was put together by family and friends for our wedding (Thanks go to N for pushing some good music through), and it's definitely a change from my attraction to dark, and quite depressing music. 

When I listen to this song, and album, I can't help but smile.

official cover of Jónsi's album go

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Work, perhaps a different definition,  in Kerenge, Tanzania

"I like what is in Work - the chance to find yourself.
Your own reality -for yourself, not for others -
what no other man can ever know.
They can only see the mere show,
and never can tell what it really means."
-joseph conrad

When I was 17, just on the cusp of going off to college, I had a very clear identity set out for myself. 

I fell into two explicitly defined categories, that were easy to communicate and convey to people when they inquired about the direction I was headed in. 

"I'm going to college to play basketball, and I'm going to study biology to become a doctor." 

I had decided that, although I wanted to play professionally, either in the US or abroad, going to medical school was a longer term investment, the impetus to a path that would be fulfilling, meaningful, purposeful and rewarding.
 Playing basketball was my passion, becoming a doctor was my dream. And I was hell bent on doing both. Funny how dreams and passions change. I still love basketball, and miss, severely, the training part of it. I miss the everyday grind. As a young kid, my schedule was so jam-packed, I never really had time to think about what it all meant. My sights were clear, and I loved what I was doing. In college, the path changed. I gave up a full scholarship, focused on school, worked in a research lab, joined the model UN, met some new people and had a more balanced existence, slowly, I started to have more time, dictated by myself. 

And I filled up those spaces, the void, with things I was interested in, like writing for the newspaper, or working at a cultural center. The dreams of playing professionally dwindled, and I was okay with it. But there was, and still is, a void, that I still try to fill. 

My dream of becoming a doctor has also dwindled, so right now, I'm sort of at this place where I've never been before. With a future that scares the shit out of me. Because I don't know what "profession" I fit into. 

As a species-humans, we try so hard, to organize ourselves and others. So much so, just as we try to organize our worlds, that one word, can carry so many connotations. I am a doctor-means so much. Not only does it tell others what we spend our time doing, it give them insight into personality, motivations, aspirations, values, choices, or a least that's what it tells them in their minds. 

But if, for instance, like right now in my life, I were to answer the question, 

"what do you do"

with avoiding the question all together by launching into a long-winded blast asking the person why it matters so much to quantify and qualify my existence and my value by what I "do",  then, of course, that person and I will be faced with the uncomfortable silence that inevitably ensues, and an attempt to avoid any further conversation by saying something like,

 "well, how about them Giants." 

I guess I'm still stumped by that identity, or ego, I suppose, in conversation. And if I were to become all hippy dippy, I would try to justify to myself, and others by taking the Zen approach, and say, happiness is only found when you have peace within yourself, regardless of outward expectations. And of course, I'd feel good about saying it, because let's face it, I am a little hippy dippy, but I can't say I'm all that Zen. 
I cling to the words, but haven't quite been able to put them into practice, if I could I'd be a much better person. 

I guess I'm still trying to find a purposeful statement of identity. 

That fits. 

That I'm comfortable with. 

Sure it's ego.

Sure its not Zen.

But it is me. 

Then I think about all the people who don't have to define "Work", and who have lives that don't allow for the luxury of such thoughts and conversations, who do work simply to live. And then I think about what a jerk I am. Middle-class suburbia, the problems of us 20-something's who came from families where we had the freedom to explore these questions. And who are now in this same place-not being forced to follow a certain path, but have too many choices, or were told we have all these choices. 

That's another topic, though....

Maybe I should look back to Conrad's definition of work, and take those words and put them in practice. 

Because if Work is, 

"the chance to find yourself-your own reality, for yourself-not for others" 

then this identity in conversation isn't really about fitting a single word; it's more about finding yourself, or reinventing yourself, or connecting with those around you. 

And maybe people bringing up the questions provides an opportunity to put everything into context, and reflect on the present, without worrying too much about the future. 

And maybe the question will lead to follow up questions. 

And the answers don't matter so much.

 I'll try to remember this the next time someone asks me "what do you do."