“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.”—Wunderkammer: Did You Know (via thelyricaldiaries)
Without words, we mutually allowed experience to swallow us whole. It was the only way forward. But her absence would haunt me in the same way my mother’s absence haunted my father, and the missing part of Magda’s arm haunted her.
Now that I’m married and living in California with my wife, I think living with the absence of someone we love is like living in front of a mountain from which a person—a speck in the distance, on some distant ridge—is perpetually waving.
I’ve spent my entire career obsessively trying to “learn how to draw” when I should’ve just been drawing. Always thinking “I just need to get a little better… and then I’ll start working on (insert any of a hundred personal projects)”
The fact is that i’ve been good enough since my teens- and would’ve improved so much more rapidly had my study been in the service of any of those projects- and not in the dozens of sketchbooks pilled in my closet.
Lesson: Don’t use “learning” as an excuse to avoid “doing”.
The Little Mermaid was written as a love letter by Hans Christian Anderson to Edvard Collin. Anderson, upon hearing of Collin’s engagement to a young woman, proclaimed his love to him. He told him ”I long for you as though you were a beautiful Calabrian girl.” Edvard Collin turned Anderson down, disgusted. Anderson then wrote The Little Mermaid to symbolize his inability to have Collin just as a mermaid cannot be with a human. He sent it to Collin in 1936 and it goes down in history as one of the most profound love letters ever written.
Most scholars and psychoanalysts concluded that Anderson was bisexual; however, he never acted upon his homosexual drives.
“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”
Aaron Freeman, NPR Journalist/Commentator (from the article
“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”—Charles Bukowski (via girlwithoutwings)
People should not be taken for granted — not the ones who raised you, not the ones who ground you, not the ones who love you. Not the stranger who chased you for a half-block to tell you you’ve dropped something, not the one who holds the door for you, not the one who asks you if you’re feeling okay or the one who asks you to dance. Their actions are not inconsequential; they are what it means to be human, a state so common that it’s rather easy to forget how extraordinary it can be. Don’t. Remember it always, remember how bland and unsatisfactory and meaningless life would be without humanity.
The time someone stood in front of you and nakedly, candidly told you how they felt about you; the time someone let you cry for minutes, hours, because you couldn’t do it alone anymore; the time someone asked how you were and wanted to listen to the answer. Don’t take this for granted, because moments like these don’t come in bulk. Acts of love can’t be bought on sale or saved for rainy days — they come when they come and the best you can do is recognize them for what they are: flashes that make life worth living.
Don’t take for granted the small things: the last time the sun kisses your face before three days of rain or having a pair of eyes to look into, hands to hold. A warm bed to collapse into at the end of a long day and an illuminated sky on a clear night. Embrace the people you can sit in silence with, and the ones who make you laugh for hours with little effort. The small things add up to big things, the big things add up to everything. Don’t take this for granted.