note: slightly anachronistic. text was written a month ago, and I hadn’t gotten around to editing and completing until now
Will the human heart ever find satisfaction in its current situation? Just a month ago, in the whirlwind of final projects, exams, and meaningless assignments, all I wanted was some respite from endless deadlines. Now, I’m back at home. I miss some extent of the structure of that life and satisfying sense of victory upon completion of a (meaningless) assignment.
As I’m sitting in my stuffy, under-air-conditioned room that reminds me of high school nights and a younger, more naive version of myself, I just wanted to write a bit before I lose this fleeting sense of nostalgia and introspection.
This past year of college was exhausting but soul-lifting. I feel weird and self-aggrandizing saying this, but I’ve come so far from where I was last year. It’s hard to internalize just how much I’ve grown as a human being. Most importantly, I’m more sure of who I am these days than I ever was in the past. I’m still trying to establish my own metric for meaningfully judging what it means to be a ‘good human.’ How do you measure kindness, love, self-growth, worth as a human being?
In June of 2017, I was living and working in Philly. I was sleeping sporadically, living each day passively. That summer, I learned how to slow down and make time for myself. I visited art museums and sat in the corner stealthily sketching stony-faced busts (literally carved from stone) in my 8 by 11 sketchbook, walked with no aim around the city at night, grew an affinity for gazing at sunsets from obscure rooftops, and made plans for myself by myself.
How to practice self compassion? And compassion for every being? How to live? To live without gripping fears of whether I’d amount to anything meaningful on this earth, whether I’d add value to someone’s life? To live without self-doubt impressing every step I took? To live without neurotic lapses of thought into the future, a place so foreign and abstract that there was no feeling outside of fear? Becoming ok again was a matter of just living. Just going through each day and getting out of bed. Some days were shit, and some days were ok. But as I went through the motions, I was able to collect big and little beams of light. Maybe on a magical Thursday, I was overwhelmed with how beautifully and radiantly the evening light bounced off the city’s skyline. The next day would be a thunderstorm in the brain, but then Saturday would bring a kind smile from an acquaintance. An intro to Buddhism class I took this past semester helped me learn to be ok with this arbitrary ebb and flow. Although every aspect of life is ungrounded and wildly random, I keep my footing by keeping my caprices in check and shifting my viewpoint, from a victim of the world to a simple actor in this play.
An amnesiac of time. With minutes, hours, days, and months, the little good things would stack up. As I added all these experiences in my backpack of life, they were like little papers of light–they stacked up on top of the raw, visceral loneliness, pain, whatever lay at the core. And in moments of darkness, I referenced my records of light and remembered the inconsequential, yet beautiful things that made me glad to be alive.
So often, when I reach small milestones, I’ll look back and wince at my regret. Why couldn’t I let myself live? Why was I so unhappy for such a disproportionate portion of this time? Why did I become mired in the small upsets of daily life, in the bits that ended up not mattering? How could I become so caught up in my own web of discontent? Why did I never feel full? And how do I become whole from here?
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to be explicit with gratitude. Nobody owes you anything. Really. Any kindness that’s ever shown towards you is something that another human has taken time and thought out of their day for to help you and boost you up in some way. To me, that’s the closest thing to magic that we have in our small, humble, human lives.
“we all go through the same things, no one cares. life is full of shit, so go do whatever you believe is best.”
All in all, this past year was good. I wanted to share this vlog I made (can you believe I actually followed through on this?! :D) which isn’t entirely representative of my life as a student…but such is the awesomeness of youth. Every day is wildly different!