7 Days Later on an Island in Croatia – Lessons Learned

20180302_10159179706245571_589339253_o.jpg   20258122_10102177747443829_6485118325349732670_n.jpg

And, when you’re in the midst of it all, it’s hard to fully collect your thoughts, feelings, and desires. You’re moving at a fast pace, with roughly 40 pounds of baggage strapped to your back, arms, and innately, your insides. You’re meeting people from all over the world, with hundreds of life stories that they are open to sharing because you’re in a foreign country with people who you may or may not ever see again. And, then, there’s the select few that you know you connect with so strongly that you will make the effort to meet at a another time, in another place.

Sometimes, you’re sitting lazily under a palm tree doing nothing and drifting off to the sound of local kids and a family having a picnic on the waterfront as the wind blows and the sun beats down on your legs. Other times, you’re watching the tourists completely flood the city, gulping down one too many drinks, leaving a trail of their trash as they head into the next pub. You ask the locals how they feel about this, and you know while it’s good for their economy, they’re sick of it, even if it only happens six months out of the 12.

You accept your ignorance of having not known the history of a region so rife with struggle and conflict, and truly understand the impact on personal lives when you become close friends with a girl who was displaced by war and separated from her family for two years. You hear the pain and growth from experiences you’ve been so privileged to have avoided merely by the fortune of being raised elsewhere.

It becomes clear that travel is sometimes glorified and beautified, and not always simple. But, you also realize that all you need to survive is food and water. You can change beds nightly and focus on the beauty of having the opportunity to meet more people because you’re in a constant state of flux. You see that there is a sense of stability in always being open to changing surroundings because you rely on so much less and can be ready for anything, at any time. Things really stop mattering so much. You can be alone and content. You can be surrounded and content.

At times, you’re disconnected technologically, so then, you’re totally connected in real time. As if real time even exists and has meaning. I’ve been consumed by people watching. By endlessly seeing that when people are in big groups and have nothing to say, they bring their phones into the conversation, avoiding eye contact and using their thumb to tap accolades to the edited photos on their screens. Or, they are taking snapchats of what’s live in front of them to broadcast to those back home, showing that they are here and you are there, not experiencing the same thing that they are experiencing behind a screen. I’ve been there. I’m happy I haven’t had the means to be for quite some time. It’s made days longer and connections stronger.

Mental pictures are my oldest and newest currency. They are the ones to cherish because they are becoming a part of my future.

I’ve pulled a splinter out of the toe of a stranger, a bee sting out of the hand of an older man, helped friends to their bed after wild nights that became mornings out, checked in on an acquaintance with low blood pressure, and jumped at any opportunity to help strangers when I have the means. I’ve had multiple nights in a row with no sleep and days of exploration, with days of simply passing the time and avoiding the heat.

I’ve talked about the meaning of life, God, love, desire, goals, fears and challenges with multiple people, mostly men, but also with some women, too. I’ve spent hours inside the busiest club on an island to talk philosophies with a friend. I’ve heard wild stories from wild nights of people who are finding themselves and learning what they seek romantically.

I’ve held onto the fact that many people derive the meaning of life from the relationships they make and the amount of people they can help.

Days roll by and time moves slower because you’re taking it all in. You’re connecting on very deep levels, having serious conversations over drinks and cheap eats while you realize the amount of talent and creativity people possess is broad, extensive and unique. You learn that people discover what they are good at over time, and sometimes later than expected in life, as well as having it come to them by chance. It gives you hope. It makes you realize that life doesn’t happen at ages, it happens in stages. And at various points in time because of the choices you make to take the chances and do the things that have always scared you most.

You see that, while yes, people do the same things to survive all over the world, cultures and norms are vastly different. Ways of talking, value systems, expectations, and actions take different forms. You understand that trusting your intuition is one of the smartest and most necessary tools you can bring to the table. You pick up on ways to know who means well and those that are just floating on by. You can spot the people still finding their way, and you can relate to having been there and then seeing those ahead of you, knowing you’ll get there, too.

You appreciate the inherent goodness in people and learn more about yourself through what people tell you they think of you. And, many times, it’s repetitive, which makes it the “truth”?

It’s not what you do, where you live and what you have. It’s who you are and what you do with the limited time you have here, there, and everywhere.

 

 

One Way Ticket

I’ve got a one-way ticket, my passport, and an open mind with the willingness to tear down the boundaries of my comfort zone. It’s like spring cleaning for my life, yet again.

There’s something about summer coming that makes me want to escape and start fresh. It’s like being in school for so many years gave my mind, body, and soul the muscle memory to get away for a few months, take a break, and then jump back into routine. But, what if there was never meant to be a routine? Society has this way of making you think you have to do what everyone else is doing and puts this notion of success at the end of a supposed, and possibly illusionary path.

And then, writing it down makes everything so real. Like the truth of your inner self is staring you back and asking you what you’re going to do next. I don’t know.

I sat in the sauna today and watched my sweat roll off of my chin and hit my hands, cascading into a puddle on the floor. I was there, but I wasn’t there. I was just watching things happen to my body and the people around me, but letting everything go in and out, like watching a screenplay unfold and accepting whatever was to come. A man slipped down from leaning against the wall and fell to the floor. Slightly embarrassed, he quickly stood back up like nothing happened. On my part, there was zero judgment. Just an understanding that the floor is wet, and yeah, shit happens, but you get back up and readjust yourself the next time you lean back on the wall. Learn from your experience.

Like the drops of water and the man, I think that’s the way life is meant to be lived. Letting things roll and fall however they may, and being accepting of the outcome, while also knowing when to wipe it all off and try again, taking with you what you know and being open to knowing that there is still a lot you don’t.

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

HUMPDAY motivation

And so what if we pushed our dreams into reality
And let them fly freely and let them just be
Ambitions and hopes abound
As we sit idly by, thinking that time will wait around
It’s a sad fact, but true
there’s no one that will push you… but you
And when you think you’ve had just enough
You take a step back and realize you haven’t even begun
So stop letting the hands of the clock
Tie yours down
Take a step with you feet
Rise up-
Don’t remain on the ground

Untitled

how there’s no need for words

when vibrations travel through empty space

filling voids that words are too small

to complete

eyes dancing to the beat of thoughts

there’s intense consideration

contemplation and care

before any sound echoes

into open air

 

feeling what we say

as meanings cascade from pinnacled mountain tops

falling into crevices between your bones

I miss you even when I’m with you

I’ll hold on to these words until Time says

it’s ready to let go

 

 

 

 

Designing Your Life

Imagine that you’re given an empty room of any size in any kind of house. Your first thoughts will likely be- how to fill it with the things you need and how to decorate it so that it is aesthetically pleasing to both yourself and visitors.

Much like being given an empty room to fill, we are born into the world with untouched souls. They are pure and open for new experiences, teachings, downfalls, growth and meaning. In looking at life as a finite room, it gives the perspective that it is both open to interpretation and design, but also confined by the structures we’re born into, in this metaphor, the walls. Walls like race, arguably sex, and family are walls that as foundations stand without our creative touch and input. As much as we can design our lives the way we want to, we are categorized inside constructs and groups, the way that furniture must be measured to fit within a space. This is not to be seen as negative or limiting, but rather as a filter for how we come to see the world and decorate our lives.

Fortunately, we are the architects of our soul – we decide how we fill our time, who we interact with, and what kind of furniture we will allow to permanently remain within our space. This free will ushers in seemingly interminable choices and sometimes tough decisions that will shape who we become, to both ourselves and to the world.

The beauty in the design of life is that it’s malleable. While one choice leads down a path to a new intersection, your mind is always changing as experiences and moments move, shaping who you are. Therefore, when you arrive at the next crossroads, you have more experience to make the next decision- a ripple effect not a domino effect because ripples expand, while dominos fall.

Just like furnishing a room, tastes will change over time. While you decide to keep some key pieces (values), you will likely enhance or recreate the details surrounding those values with new choices (lifestyle).

Each phase of living in your room offers new function and informs new meaning. Nothing is permanent, and that is the essence of finding beauty in your design for it is all fleeting.

 

 

#nofilter

Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep easily. So, I ended up doing what I typically do, which is the opposite of helpful. I watched a few TED talks, read the news online, and of course, scrolled through Instagram. It got me thinking about the lives that we all put on display for our social media followers. We have this blanket of technology to shield us from having to share everything and divulge the secret parts of life that we’d rather not have anyone know about us. Everyone is guilty of this- hiding the less than popular feelings and attributes of our mental and physical being. I haven’t yet met someone who openly posts everything about their lives, including their less than beautiful pictures and monotonous daily adventures unless they are #sick and want some #sympathy. Even when someone does post a picture without editing it, there is an expected inherent reward they demand by using the hashtag, “nofilter”. It’s as if taking photos without placing an overlay on it is a novel talent rather than the way photos were actually invented to be. Mostly, when people take selfies with that hashtag, it’s supposed to serve as evidence that they are really beautiful, it’s not just Instagram making them look that way.

The filters of this app and many other social media tools is a microcosm of the entire basis of social media- it’s all a facade. In my hours of insomnia, I re-imagined an app that would be like Instagram, but without the filters, in every sense of the word. If you wanted to use it, it’d be to document life like a journal, so people would know both the good and the bad. It’d be life as you saw and experienced it, not life with a X-Pro filter on top. But, would people really be interested in doing that if it didn’t warrant as much popularity? If they had to post themselves going to get their flat tire fixed when it blew out on the freeway the same way that they posted meeting a celebrity at a club? Probably not, because then everyone would realize that we all go through the same ups and downs, at varying degrees.

Realistically, people don’t like sharing or posting the regular or below average parts of life because it messes up the image that everything is perfect; the image we create on our social profiles that our lives are better than the people’s lives who are following us. Sometimes, it’s not even to be put on display for others, but rather for ourselves. We create our lives in social media the way we want to remember them, by ignoring anything that isn’t favorable. If this real-life Instagram did exist, what would your feed look like? Who would you really be- unfiltered selfies and all? I think that kind of digital journal could be used to reflect on the changes we’d like to make for ourselves to improve the lives we live, so that the display is always pure and unfiltered.

Until then, I’ll stick to writing about my lows and posting filtered pictures of my highs.