Stranger Things Have Happened (Pun Intended)

“Other side,” he said. I’ve been in England since Thursday evening, and every time I’ve walked up to my friend Luke’s car, it’s been mistakenly on the driver side. Naturally, it’s understandable given I’ve come from America where our driver side is their passenger side, but it’s still comical to me. It also serves as a reminder that there is no such thing as “normal.” Despite the fact everyone here speaks English and it’s the most like where I come from out of the places I’ve recently been, I can’t help but feel like people just know I’m not from around here, even before I speak with my hard “a’s” and emphasized “-er’s.” Plus, crossing the street is always enjoyable when you look the wrong way first.

After spending at least 10 minutes with Border Patrol promising them I plan to go back to America despite not having booked a flight home, I proceeded on an hour long train/bus journey to meet my friend. It was painless and easy because the public transportation here is really incredible. I met some friendly strangers along the way, one Kiwi girl who actually shared some of her scone with me on the bus because she knew I was really hungry. There’s still good in the world…

I’ve been wanting to see London for quite some time, and timing couldn’t have been better. When I mentioned coming in passing to a really close friend of mine from here, whom I met two years ago in a hostel in Australia, he said I should definitely come and welcomed me into his home. He and his family couldn’t have been more gracious hosts. We explored the country side where he lives, went for delicious meals, and shared serious stories over drinks at the local pub. And, we took part in one of the most British pastimes – a pub quiz (of which I contributed next to nothing).

I was really taken aback by the scenery and my thoughts of how dramatically different the landscape is from what I experienced during my childhood. We literally walked through woods to get into town. Rolling hills, cows, cloudy skies, and brick houses fill the quaint neighborhood. One of my favorite parts about neighborhoods here are the flower pots hanging everywhere because they add so much color to the streets, and of course, the British accents.

Apparently, some people find it quite strange that he was hosting me, considering we only met once in person for a few days across the world two years ago, but when you meet people like that, it forges a friendship for life, and I’m really grateful for this chain of events.

Even better is that it all worked out when it did, as I was here during his 29th birthday weekend, which we celebrated in a treehouse-like pub surrounded by his close, and obviously great friends. I say obvious because I’m a firm believer that you’re the sum of the parts with whom you surround yourself.

And now, for the real kicker. During my travels in Croatia, when I was “stuck” on the island of Hvar waiting for my “new old” iPhone 5 to make its way through customs, I met a woman named Emma in the hostel bar/restaurant. We struck up a conversation when she complimented my laptop case – my laptop which was only out because of my phone being broken (see previous post about being phoneless on an island). Immediately, we began talking with another guy I had previously met (from Georgia) and got into a deep conversation about race, family, culture and more. It was clear that she and I have a lot in common and a lot to learn from one another.

We then spent the next few days together, walking around Hvar, eating and cooking, sharing stories, and going out at night with groups of new friends we made during our hostel stay. (Sidenote: If you’re ever in Hvar and need a hostel to stay at, follow the path to The White Rabbit, where it’ll feel like you’re with family).

And now, I’m here in Twickenham, London in Emma’s apartment,  waiting for her to come back home from her touring some of Europe on a Bus About trip. Then, we’ll see more sights here as she’s welcomed me into her home as if it were the “normal” thing to do.

It’s funny how the world works when you stop planning and believing you have control over what’s to come. Granted, you need to make moves and take steps to accelerate, but you also have to be open to speaking to strangers who, when the timing is right, become your closest friends.

Late Night Rambles 

What the fuck am I so afraid of? Every person has a story, a history, a future and the power to act. Every day brings with it millions of opportunities for life to go one way or the other. It’s all about choices we make and the convuluted act of just going for it. 

We (maybe I should say I, but a collective make it easier to swallow) want to do something. Then, we spend so many days, months and years talking about it instead of acting. What is with human nature that makes us this way? We all know that life is finite, yet we procrastinate carelessly until it’s too late. Only then do some of us wake up and wish we could’ve done it all differently. 
Not me. Not anymore. 

I am going for it. I only have small inklings of what it is, but I will know when I’ve done it. I can feel that is the truth. I’m trusting intuition, finally. 

I am going to explore and do things I’ve never done and see what I come back with, or without. Mind games and tricks can put illusionary limits on capabilities. I am learning to quiet those unneeded thoughts. There’s a whole lot of brain power that I won’t allow to be left unused and potential lingering that needs to be ignited. 
T-3 days until takeoff. 

Timepiece

He wore time like an accessory
His steps told a story
Of heartache, betrayal, triumph
And love lost
There was a little bit of
His missing pieces in everyone
Passerbys searching for eternity
Searching for unconditional love
To shade them from the demons
But when he turned the corner
He walked on by as if
He forgot purposely to try and remember

No Justice, No Peace

The saying goes, “History repeats itself.” Andy Warhol said, “Life is a series of images that change as they repeat themselves.”

While American soldiers were fighting wars in Europe and Vietnam, we had segregation on our soil. While we are focused on senseless terrorist attacks both domestic and foreign against innocent individuals, our friends are being shot- point blank for living and being black.

Headlines cover the news of lives lost at the hands of cowards preaching ideology for a group looking to seize control of freedom, while those who are supposed to guard our freedom continue to murder without remorse.

While I am not a black male, I am no stranger to racism, and I am not one to turn a blind eye in ignorance. We’ve continued to condone a society with structural and inherent flaws, built on lies of equality. It’s a society that preaches liberty and justice for all, but always with conditions. Freedom is supposed to be unconditional-  it’s like love.

When social media hashtags become a call, no, a cry for reform, while people use the same tools for selfies, we need to remind ourselves to be selfless. Turn the camera around, look outside of your colored lens and see that America is still painting pictures in black and white. And it’s become more white versus black and brown and yellow and blue with each passing day.

We still have a ways to go, and we need a justice system that is what it says it is, because right now, there’s no justice|no peace.

#altonsterling

Smile More

It’s been an amazing week! I’ve accomplished steps towards success and attained some personal goals, but even more so, I’ve had multiple encounters lately that don’t usually happen on the daily, or so I thought. This week, I can count at least one thing each day that was genuinely uplifting. It could be my attitude and relaxed mood, but I think my internal feelings are affecting the vibes I’m giving off, and so, all the good ones are coming straight my way in return. Plus, consistently doing yoga is definitely enhancing my life.

Also, I’ve made a conscious effort to smile more to people and give strangers more notice. If I make eye contact with someone, I’m not so quick to turn away anymore. Instead, I smile and 99.9% of the time, they are smiling back. Small actions of intent create large ripples of positive change. Do something each day (of any size) that makes you (and, in turn, someone else) happier!